Sometimes when I go through older recipes, I find that they call for specific ingredients that are not always easy to come by.
My grandmother used to make a cold corn and pea salad with pimentos and a mayonnaise-based dressing.
Her recipe calls for frozen peas and shoepeg corn.I didn’t know shoepeg corn was different than other corn. So I researched shoepeg corn and found that it is an old variety of sweet white corn.
While you can sometimes find canned shoepeg corn, unless you have an amazing farmer’s market that sells heirloom varieties, fresh shoepeg corn may be very hard to come by. The good news is that you have other options.
For most recipes, you can substitute fresh, frozen, or canned sweet white or yellow corn for shoepeg corn in equal quantities. Fresh corn works best in recipes that will be cooked so that it softens up a bit. Canned and frozen corn is good in salads, dips, and cooked recipes. If you want a corn dish with less sweetness, try substituting canned hominy for the shoepeg corn. Those who have a corn allergy or simply want a more savory than sweet dish could try substituting chickpeas or black-eyed peas for the shoepeg corn.
Making these substitutions reduces the amount of sugar and increases the amount of protein in the dish.
Keep reading to find out which substitution works best for each kind of recipe, the health benefits of some substitutions, and some surprising uses and substitutions for shoepeg corn.
Substitutions For Shoepeg Corn
Shoepeg corn is an older variety that is distinctive for its small, sweet kernels that grow unevenly on the cob.
Recipes that feature shoepeg corn make it the star of the dish, emphasizing its fresh taste and texture.
If you find yourself without shoepeg corn or are unable to find it, we have some options for you.
Also, if you have a recipe that you like, but sweet corn is too sweet for your taste, we have options that have similar, but less sweet flavors.
Shoepeg Corn Substitutes
Corn salads are served cold and combine ingredients like cherry tomatoes, chopped onions, cucumbers, fresh herbs, crumbled feta, and a vinegar-based dressing.
1. Canned, Drained, And Rinsed Black-eyed Peas
Black-eyed peas are clearly not corn and definitely not as sweet. However, these legumes do have an earthy taste that blends well with other vegetables in a cold salad or relish.
My family traditionally makes a cold salad called “Texas Caviar,” from black-eyed peas, black beans, and pickling spices. These little tan and black legumes really pack a nutritional punch.
Black-eyed peas are extremely high in Vitamins A & K, manganese, folate, and are also rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium, and copper. Because of their size, black-eyed peas can be substituted at a 1:1 ratio to corn.
2. Canned Hominy Drained And Rinsed
Hominy is corn kernels that have been treated with lime (the mineral, not the fruit) which removes the hull and germ from the corn kernel.
Hominy is a little chewier than corn and has a more sour flavor. Substituting hominy for shoepeg corn would make your dish savory and minerally instead of sweet.
Hominy’s mild flavor tends to pick up the stronger flavors of other ingredients in the dish. Hominy has fairly low levels of vitamins but has good mineral content.
It contains 6% DV of iron, manganese, and phosphorus, 7% DV of magnesium and Selenium, and 12% DV of Zinc.You can use hominy at a 1:1 ratio in most recipes.
3. Canned Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans) Drained And Rinsed
Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans are a healthy and tasty alternative to shoepeg corn in a cold salad.
Like other legumes, chickpeas have an earthy-nutty flavor. Naturally, this would make your recipe less sweet than it would be with corn.
This legume is rich in fiber and high in protein. Just 1 cup of chickpeas provides about 30% of an adult’s daily value of protein.
Eating chickpeas may reduce blood pressure by providing a dish low in sodium and high in potassium. They are also high in calcium, iron, selenium, and B vitamins.
Chickpeas are a little larger than individual kernels of corn, so it will seem like there are fewer chickpeas in a cup than kernels of corn.
You may want to alter the ratio of chickpeas to corn. For example, try 1 1/2 to 2 cups of chickpeas per 1 cup of corn.
4. Fresh White Or Yellow Corn
Fresh vegetables taste the best, so in the summer when fresh corn is available in the market, you can choose any available variety of sweet corn to use in a homemade corn casserole.
Even if the recipe you are using calls for shoepeg corn, sweet white, sweet yellow, or a combination will be good in your casserole.
Corn is rich in vitamins B, C, E, and K as well as magnesium and potassium.
Yellow corn also has lutein and zeaxanthin which are good for eye health. Use fresh corn in a 1:1 ratio with shoepeg corn in your recipes.
5. Canned Whole Kernel Sweet Corn
Many people swear by Green Giant’s canned shoepeg corn for their casserole recipes.
Del Monte also sells White Shoepeg corn under the Summer Crisp Brand. However, if you can’t find it, or don’t have it at home, you can use any whole kernel canned corn.
Sweeter varieties with smaller kernels will most closely mimic shoepeg corn’s flavor and kernel size.
Canned corn has the same nutritional content as fresh corn; however, you should be careful to check for added sodium.
Most canned corn has sodium added to enhance the flavor. If you are concerned about sodium levels, look for a can with reduced-sodium or no added salt. Use fresh corn in a 1:1 ratio with shoepeg corn in your recipes.
6. Dried, Soaked, Chickpeas
Keeping dried vegetables in your pantry is convenient because they last a long time. If you like the extra protein that chickpeas deliver, you can substitute them for shoepeg corn in a casserole.
You will need to soak and cook the chickpeas to your desired tenderness. If you have a pressure cooker you can cook dried chickpeas in an hour.
The next fastest way is to do a quick soak-and-simmer on the stovetop for 3 hours.
Chickpeas will be more earthy tasting than corn, and they will lack corn’s natural sweetness.
In a stew, you can add other ingredients to increase the sweetness.Use fresh corn in a 1:1 ratio with shoepeg corn in your recipes.
7. Frozen White Or Yellow Corn
This creamy dish can be a dip at a party or a side dish for dinner. Combine cream cheese, butter, frozen corn, salt, and pepper in a crockpot and heat on low until everything is warm and melty.
You can even throw in a can of chopped green chiles for a boost of flavor. Frozen corn is a great substitution for fresh corn because it maintains a fresher flavor than canned corn. Use fresh corn in a 1:1 ratio with shoepeg corn in your recipes.
8. Canned Whole Kernel Sweet Corn
Those who swear by shoepeg corn recommend not even opening the can until you are ready to thread the kernels on the hook so that it has the strongest scent in the water.
If you aren’t able to find shoepeg corn, salmon fishers recommend trying other varieties of canned sweet whole kernel corn.
Don’t open the can until you are ready to bait the hook. Use fresh corn in a 1:1 ratio with shoepeg corn in your recipes.
9. Ambrosia Hybrid
This sweet corn is easy to find and produces 8” white and yellow checkered ears. The stalks grow about 6 ½ feet tall and should be planted 12 inches apart.
It is also a faster producer than heirloom shoepeg, ready to harvest at 75 days on average. Use fresh corn in a 1:1 ratio with shoepeg corn in your recipes.
10. Silver Choice Hybrid
Silver Choice is a super sweet white corn that produces 8” ears. Much like the Ambrosia corn, it grows to 6-7 feet tall and should be planted 12 inches apart. It also develops after 75 days.
This variety is convenient to grow because the ears stay sweet and tender on the stalk up to 2 weeks after maturity, even when they are grown near other varieties of sweet corn. Use fresh corn in a 1:1 ratio with shoepeg corn in your recipes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Shoepeg Corn?
Shoepeg corn is a variety of corn that was developed in the mid-to-late 1800s in North America.
It is called shoepeg because the small kernels look similar to the pegs that cobblers used to hold the soles of shoes to the uppers while they were making them.
Today we refer to shoepeg as an heirloom variety. This variety is very similar to the original one identified in 1890.
You can still order shoepeg corn for planting from seed companies, and Green Giant and Del Monte sell canned shoepeg corn.
What Is Another Name For Shoepeg Corn?
Country Gentleman is the most common variety of shoepeg corn. It produces ears with uneven rows of small white kernels. Another variety is Zea Mays or Texas Shoepeg.
Is Shoepeg Corn Genetically Modified?
Not in the way you are thinking when you ask this question. We can think about corn in two big categories: field corn and sweet corn.
Industries use field corn in applications like making livestock feed, ethanol, high-fructose corn syrup, and processed foods.
This kind of corn has been modified to make it hardier. It is also more pest-resistant, and more productive.
Sweet corn, on the other hand, is what we eat. The many varieties of sweet corn have been created over the years by blending different varieties for favorable qualities.
Heritage varieties of corn keep the changes over time minimal to avoid cross-pollination and breeding.
Therefore, Shoepeg corn is only modified by combining and pollinating varieties of corn in the field — just as agriculture has been done for thousands of years.
Can I Grow Shoepeg Corn?
Probably. Corn is a hardy crop that grows in most places in the world. If you want to grow shoepeg corn, you should plant it after the last frost directly in the garden.
Once it sprouts, you should thin the stalks to 12” apart. Because corn is pollinated by wind, you should plant at least 4 rows.
Be sure to keep it watered so that it doesn’t become wilted. The ears should be ready to pick in about 90 days.
You should can or freeze the corn right away so that it doesn’t lose its sweetness by the sugars turning to starch.
Shoepeg corn is a heritage type of sweet corn that turns up in some older recipes. You can sometimes find Green Giant canned shoepeg corn, or you might find it fresh at a farmer’s market.
If you need to make a substitution, the closest option is sweet white corn, but any variety of corn will work well.
Other choices like hominy, chickpeas, and black-eyed peas will make your dish much less sweet, but will add a nice savory flavor and punch of protein to your recipe.
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My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.