The sound of popping kernels, smell of freshly made popcorns…with butter, with salt, sweetened, with no additions…whatever way you like them, popcorns are always more than just a snack.
Is every corn a popcorn?
No. There are several types of corn (sweet corn, dent or field corn, popcorn) and although they are a plant from a same family, they are all different. Popcorn is one of the oldest types of corn. It has smaller and different shape kernel than other corn types. Popcorn itself has more than a few different types: Regular popcorn, Rainbow blend (kernels come in different colors), Midnight blue, White hulless…
What makes them pop? The popcorn popping “magic” is quite simple and magnificent when you look at it at slow motion…there is some chemistry, and some physics… Best to use US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to explain this popping process: As the kernel heats up, the water expands, building pressure against the hard starch surface. Eventually, this outer layer gives way, causing the popcorn to explode. As it explodes, the soft starch inside the popcorn becomes inflated and bursts, turning the kernel inside out. The steam inside the kernel is released, and the popcorn is popped, hot and ready to eat.
So, how to make perfect popcorns?
It depends on where are you making the popcorns, what are you using.
If it’s in a pan on a stove – Warm up a pan (or you can use a wok). Add in around 3 table spoons of vegetable oil, make sure there is enough to comfortably covers the bottom. Put 2-3 kernels in the pan. When those kernels pop, add around 1/3 of a tea cup of popcorn kernels in the pan. Now, there is a secret step that most people skip…after you added popcorn kernels in the pan, remove the pan from the stove for 20-30 seconds, and then put it back on the stove and close the lid. This will make all kernels to have same temperature so they will start popping at the same time. Make sure to stir the pan (while the lid is on) when kernels start popping. Also, lift the lid slightly to allow steam to escape, you can keep it this way all the time or lift it occasionally. When you hear the last few pops (when you notice that popping frequency is down), remove the pan from the heat as soon as possible, and empty the popcorns into a bowl.
If it’s in a microwave – Usually there is a “Popcorn” setting on the microwave so the process is quite simple… Also, if you already bought pre-packed and prepared popcorns for microwave, you just need to put them inside the microwave and select the program. If it’s not the pre-packed popcorns, then you probably already have paper bag for this process...if you don’t, just get any paper bag put 1/3 of a tea cup of popcorn kernels in it, close the bag (just fold it several times at the top), and then do the same as if it was pre-packed popcorn bag. It usually takes 2-3 minutes for process to be finished.
If it’s a popcorn maker machine – This is the best and simplest solution. Popcorn maker machines are fairly cheap and it’s a kitchen accessory that you should definitely consider buying. For the money they cost, they are ton of fun and joy. Using popcorn maker machines brings more fun without worrying that you’ll end up with burned pan… Basically, just follow the instructions that come with the popcorn maker machine and within few minutes you’ll enjoy in this tasteful snack.
Did you know that National Popcorn Day is January 19th? No? Well, there’s another date you can note and make a nice popcorn party every year!