WHY POPCORN SOMETIMES DOESN’T POP!

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First of all, I realize there are all of 14 people in the world that grow their own popcorn. Me, Orville Redenbacher and and all of his descendants.  In fact a post on growing your own popcorn is the sort of thing I might have laughed at just a couple of years ago.  Grow your own popcorn.  As IF.

And then I grew my own corn which I thought was edible corn but was only decorative corn BUT could be used as popcorn.  And here we are.  A post on how to pop your own home grown popcorn. Don’t worry, this also applies to all of you who have ever bought one of those whole cobs of corn for popping because most of the time they don’t pop either.

As it turns out, as is often the case with things that seem too easy, popping your own homegrown popcorn isn’t just a matter of growing corn and popping the dried kernels.

 

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I know this because once my ears of corn were dry, some time after Halloween, I tried popping them.  I just rubbed the kernels off of the cobs into a bowl and gave it a shot.

colored-popcorn

The kernels looked dry and seemed like popcorn.  First I tried them in oil on the stove in a pot. The kernels didn’t pop, they just burned and looked like little blackened molars.  Like someone from A&E’s Intervention shook their head over my pot and their teeth fell out into it.

Then I tried my trusty microwave method.  One kernel popped.  Popped is a bit of an exaggeration. One kernel split open and kind of stuck out a teeny, tiny, popcorn tongue.  That was it.

That’s when the research began.

As it turns out popping corn needs to be at a very specific moisture content to pop properly.  It *can* pop when it’s at 10% moisture content, but it pops its best at 14% moisture content.  All you have to do is figure out what the moisture content of your popcorn is.

Enter the most detailed, scientific, mathematic article about making popping corn ever written, courtesy of Mother Earth News. The article gave me detailed instructions on how to figure out the moisture content of my Glass Gem Corn by grinding it up, weighing it and then baking it in the oven for a couple of hours to bake out any moisture in it.  Then of course, you weigh it again and the difference between the pre-baked corn and the post-baked corn will tell you how much moisture you lost (and therefore how much moisture was in the corn to begin with).

 

grind-popcorn

So I did that and discovered my corn was about 4% moisture.  Something not even close to being poppable.  The solution is to then add enough water to the corn to bring it up to 14% moisture. The article included a handy math equation to make figuring out exactly how much water to add easy.

So I added the amount of water I needed to my popcorn and waited a day for it to absorb.

Then I tried popping it again and 2 kernels popped!  So basically a total success if you’re only planning on popping corn for 14 Ladybugs and an imaginary rabbit.

Obviously there wasn’t enough moisture still. So, now getting fed up, I dumped a total random amount of water into the jar of popcorn and opened a bag of delicious potato chips.  I put the popcorn in the cupboard and left it for a few days.

 

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I’d say those kernels are plenty moist enough now.

 

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I’m almost positive if I had a little more background in marketing I could totally sell Whole Foods on poppable corn sprouts.

Upon seeing these my immediate thought was, so …. if I don’t digest a hunk of popcorn and it sits in my watery stomach for a few days will it root, embed itself into my nutrient rich belly lining and grow a stalk of corn which will eventually shoot out of my mouth as I sleep one night?

Or no?  Will that maybe not happen.

Probably no.  I’ll tell you another thing that isn’t going to happen.  I’m not going to be popping my own popcorn again.  I’ll do like sane people do.  I’ll find the popcorn kernels at the store and then I’ll take one giant step to the right and buy a bag of chips.