Landrace Gardening: How to Prepare Homegrown Popcorn for Popping

| 8/30/2013 11:18:00 AM

For best results from homegrown popcorn the moisture should be adjusted prior to popping. This blog details the procedures I use to achieve great popping results.

popcorn molistureWhen I originally started working with popcorn I was disappointed with how poorly it popped. After doing research I realized that I needed to adjust the moisture for best popping ability. Either too little or too much water in the kernel can lead to poor popping. The difference is demonstrated by the photo of popped corn. One batch of popcorn contained 10% moisture and the other batch contained 14% moisture. The final volume was about twice as much in the batch with the proper moisture, and there were fewer old-maids.

To test the percentage of moisture in a batch of popcorn I use the following procedure:

2/2/2014 3:24:30 PM

My testing of Glass Gem corn has shown that the popping ability averages around 10%. Some cobs don't have any poppable kernels at all and others might have up to 70% that pop. There is enough diversity within the population that it could be selected for great popping ability, but it is not currently a good popping corn. Yup. The algebra made my head spin too. My poor editor! The formula is written for use in common spreadsheets. To do the math manually, first do the operations inside the (). Then do the multiplication which is signified by *. Then do the divisions which are signified by /. Then do any additions or subtractions that haven't already been done. The first thing that the formula does is calculate the weight of dry seed. That is the key to this whole process. Starting with 3000g of moist seed times 91.3% dry weight ==> 2739 grams of popcorn if all the water was removed. But we really want the percent of dry corn in the final product to be 86.5%, so we take 2739 grams and divide by 0.865 which tells us that we want the final weight of the popcorn to be 3166 grams. Since we started out with 3000 grams of popcorn then we need to add 166 g of water.

K Ruby Blume
12/5/2013 7:57:48 PM

Hey there I don't uderstand your formula. what does the / mark stand for in the formula? wouldnt this work 3000 x 13.5% (target moisture) - 3000 x 8.7% (current moisture = 144? I dont see how you got 166. Maybe you could explain it another way. I have some great glass gem popcorn it is not moist enough to pop well. Thanks Ruby

9/2/2013 11:57:36 PM

NebraskaDave: Great question. Popcorn with too much moisture tends to produce old maids that swell up and split instead of popping. Popcorn with too little moisture tends to produce more kernels that shatter into small fragments instead of fluffy intact popcorn, and unpopped kernels don't swell much, they just caramelize in the pan. I sometimes do the bite test to evaluate how much moisture is in the popcorn. If it is just a little flexible then it is about right. If it is hard as can be, then it is too dry. If it is soft and chewy then it is too wet. If I paid closer attention to the popcorn as it dried, I could stop the process at the right moisture and then I wouldn't need to add water later on.

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