Ten Things You’ve Always Wanted to Know about Popcorn but Often had Your Mouth too Full to Ask.
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I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like popcorn, so I’m sure some of the points below will raise your interest. Grab a bag of your favorite popcorn, microwave it and enjoy this post while you eat it.
1. October is considered National Popcorn Poppin’ Month in the US. This has been a tradition for more than 30 years, but only became official in 1999. I doubt we have anything similar in Latin America, which does not stop us from having popcorn all year long and celebrate it each time.
2. Popcorn was already used by pre-Columbian Native Americans thousands of years ago. It was Christopher Columbus who introduced popcorn to the West as he noticed that the natives of the West Indies produced popcorn corsages and headdresses to sell to Columbus' sailors around 1492. So besides a food, popcorn can also be used for decorative purposes.
3. I have always wondered if popcorn was a different kind of corn. I found out that there are 6 types of maize/corn—pod, sweet, flour, dent, flint, and popcorn! Of all these, only popcorn pops! I also learned popcorn is a member of the grass family, scientifically known as Zea mays everta. Despite your love for popcorn, please refrain from naming your firstborn that.
4. You can have air-popped, microwave or stove top popcorn. Air-popped corn is made with the natural kernel. You pour some into a paper bag and put it in the microwave. Microwave popcorn, on the other hand is bought in packages and has chemicals in it, therefore it’s not the healthier type. And finally, stove top popcorn is the kind you make by pouring oil into a pan with a loose lid and heating the kernels up on the stove. This is the most traditional kind, dating from the days we did not have microwaves, before the 1980s. I must confess my favorite kind is the packaged microwave type.
5. Most people are constantly wondering how healthy popcorn is and the amount of calories it carries. Air-popped popcorn is rich in fiber and antioxidants, containing in general low calories and fat. Also, it’s practically free of sugar and sodium. However, most people pop them in oil or butter, adding loads of either sugar or salt afterwards, which makes it a poor and rather caloric dietary choice.
6. It’s also interesting to know what popcorn consists of: it’s made up of three components: the germ, endosperm, and pericarp (or hull).
7. Each kernel of popcorn contains a small drop of water stored inside a circle of soft starch. Popcorn needs between 13.5% - 14% moisture to pop. The soft starch is surrounded by the kernel's hard outer surface. When we heat up the kernel, the water inside begins to expand. It vaporizes and changes the starch into a very hot gelatinous goop. The pressure inside builds up, causing the hull to finally pop open.
8. There are basically two shapes of popcorn when they pop: snowflake and mushroom. Snowflake is the kind we see more often, as it’s bigger and has a more flamboyant look to it. The second kind is mushroom, which is more rounded, smaller and does not crumble. The latter is more commonly used for package popcorn or candy confectionary.
9. You can have sweet or salty popcorn. Among the many seasonings people used to make their popcorn special, you will find sugar, salt, garlic, chili pepper, parmesan cheese, olive oil, cocoa powder, truffle oil and many others. It all depends on your creativity. There are also dozens of sites you can look up to make your popcorn even more fattening, unhealthy and delicious: follow their recipes at your own risk!
10. Your turn: would you mind helping me complete this article by adding a 10th point on interesting info about popcorn in the comments section of this post?
Writing this article has made me crave for a bag of popcorn. I’m afraid I will have to stop now and go get some. Mine is usually the microwave type. I add a fair amount of salt, pepper and olive oil on top after it has popped. Not recommended if you have high-blood pressure.