What Is Popcorn?
How is Popcorn Grown
Popcorn is grown like sweet corn, or field corn, in a field.
The difference is that a different kernel is planted for each variety or corn.
The plants will look similar to field corn, and taller than sweet corn.
The difference is in the ear.
Rather than a cob of sweet corn or field corn, it is a cob of popcorn.
Popcorn can be grown in Canada, but only in the most southwestern part if Ontario.
It requires a long growing season in order to come to full maturity so that it will pop.
Popcorn is generally planted before the 24th of May, any time after this you are risking
the chance that the popcorn will not mature before the first frost.
Aside from the traditional yellow and white popcorn, it also comes in a variety of other colours.
They include blue, red and black.
Before harvesting popcorn the plant must turn brown.
The moisture of the ear of popcorn should be below 25 percent or damage to the ear may occur and
it becomes more costly to dry the popcorn down to the proper moisture for popping which is between 13 and 14 percent moisture.
In late fall (October or November) popcorn is harvested with a combine this is the same process that is used to harvest field corn.
With the combine the ear is stripped from the plant and the corn is shelled from the cob in the field and
all that remains in the combine is the grains of popcorn.
What makes Popcorn Pop
The folklore of some Native American tribes told of spirits which dwelled within each kernel of popcorn.
The spirits were quiet and content to live on their own, but grew angry if their "houses" were heated.
The hotter their homes became, the angrier they got. Shaking the kernels until the heat was too much.
Finally they would burst out of their homes and into the air as a disgruntled puff of steam.
And that was why they believed that popcorn popped when heated
Today we know that popcorn pops because each kernel contains a small amount of water,
which is stored in the soft starch in the middle of the kernel.
This soft starch is surrounded by the kernel's hard outer surface (the hull).
As the kernel heats up, the water begins to expand, and pressure builds against the hard starch.
Eventually, this hard surface 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!