Salt and Limes

Corn Smut the New Truffle

Corn smut, also known as Huitlacoche is a fungus that infects corn and replaces the normal kernels with large distorted fungal tumors similar to mushrooms. The origin of the name is debated but probably means either sleeping excrement or raven’s excrement. Sounds tasty right?


The fungal spores are spread by rain or wind and enter the ovaries of the corn. Once inside, they will multiply and fuse to form hyphae. Because the smut feeds on the sugars in the corn plant, the yield of corn is decreased.

Farmers often destroy the infected corn. However, in Mexico and to an increasing extent in the US, it has become a delicacy. Now, the “Mexican truffle” can be preserved and sold at a higher price than the uninfected corn. Some farmers are even purposely infecting their crops with it.

The taste is described as mushroom-like with a sweet and earthy flavor. It is traditionally used in quesadillas but can be used in a similar way to truffles. I’m thinking a modified beef wellington might work; cover a seared filet mignon with corn smut paste, wrap in prosciutto and puff pastry and bake! Or a bacon burger with corn smut butter?

I have not yet had the pleasure of tasting it but I’ve never been one to turn down a bet! Who’s with me?
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