Blue corn

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Hopi Blue Corn.jpg
Ears of corn, including the dark blue corn variety
Tlacoyo, Mexican appetizer made of blue corn
Blue corn quesadillas

Blue corn (also known as Hopi maize) is a variety of flint maize grown in Mexico and the Southwestern United States.[1][2] It is one of the main types of corn used for the traditional Southern and Central Mexican food known as tlacoyo.

It was originally developed by the Hopi,[2] and remains an essential part of Hopi dishes like piki bread. Blue corn meal is a corn meal that is ground from whole blue corn and has a sweet flavor. It is also a staple of New Mexican cuisine used commonly to make tortillas.[3]


Five Hopi blue corn cultivars identified in the 1950s showed significant differences for several traits, such as plant height, kernel weight, width of kernel, and thickness of kernel.[2] The different varieties have a color range from nearly black to blue-grey, with names derived from the "standard" blue ("sakwaqa'o"), hard blue ("huruskwapu"), and grey-blue ("maasiqa'o").[4]

Tortilla protein content[edit]

In 100 grams of blue corn tortilla (Sakwavikaviki), the protein content is 7.8%,[5] compared to 5.7% in yellow corn tortillas.[6]


Varieties of blue corn cultivated in the Southwestern United States vary in their respective contents of anthocyanins, the polyphenol pigment giving the corn its color.[7] Anthocyanins having the highest contents are cyanidin 3-glucoside (most abundant), pelargonidin and peonidin 3-glucoside.[7]

Food uses[edit]

Aside from its use in traditional Southwestern dishes of tortillas and cereal, Hopi maize is used commercially in products such as blue corn chips and blue corn pancake mix.[2][8]

Symbolic uses[edit]

The Hopi used corn in religious rituals, placing blue corn in a framework of directional associations in which yellow corn was associated with the Northwest; blue corn with the Southwest; red corn with the Southeast; white corn with the Northeast; black corn with the Above, and all-colored corn with the Below.[9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Soleri, D; Cleaveland, D. (1993). "Hopi Crop Diversity and Change" (PDF). Journal of Ethnobiology. Society of Ethnobiology. 13 (2): 203–231. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  2. ^ a b c d Johnson, Duane L.; Mitra N. Jha (1993). "Blue Corn; In: New crops". HortResearch, Purdue University for Wiley; New York. pp. 228–230. Retrieved 2010-07-23. 
  3. ^ McKee, Gwen; Barbara Moseley (1999). Best of the Best from New Mexico Cookbook: Selected Recipes from New Mexico's Favorite Cookbooks. Quail Ridge Press. ISBN 978-0-937552-93-3. 
  4. ^ Soleri, D; Cleaveland, D. (1993). "Seeds of strength for Hopis and Zunis". Seedling. 10 (4): 13–18. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  5. ^ "Basic nutrition report per 100 grams: 35239, Tortilla, blue corn, Sakwavikaviki (Hopi)". US Department of Agriculture, National Nutrient Database; Standard Reference 28. 2016. Retrieved 11 June 2017. 
  6. ^ "Basic nutrition report per 100 grams: 18449, Tortillas, ready-to-bake or -fry, corn, without added salt". US Department of Agriculture, National Nutrient Database; Standard Reference 28. 2016. Retrieved 11 June 2017. 
  7. ^ a b Nankar, A. N.; Dungan, B; Paz, N; Sudasinghe, N; Schaub, T; Holguin, F. O.; Pratt, R. C. (2016). "Quantitative and qualitative evaluation of kernel anthocyanins from southwestern United States blue corn". Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 96 (13): 4542–52. PMID 26879128. doi:10.1002/jsfa.7671. 
  8. ^ Aronson, Earl (December 1, 1990). "Blue Corn: A Food Fad Lasting for Centuries". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 19, 2012. 
  9. ^ Stephen, Alexander M. (1936), Parsons, Elsie Clews, ed., Hopi Journal of Alexander M. Stephen, New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 961, 1191 
  10. ^ Hieb, Louis A. (1979), "Hopi World View", in Ortiz, Alfonso, Handbook of North American Indians, 9, Southwest, Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, pp. 577–580, The Hopi cultural construction of space is a quadripartite one to which are added 'up' and 'down'.… From this middle place paths of cornmeal radiate outward to the six directions and various objects (including ears of corn,…) are added according to their position in the system of correspondences.