Who doesn't love popcorn? In movie theaters or at the circus, a big bowl of popcorn is a snack lover's paradise. Buttery and salty or sweet and sticky, gourmet popcorn is a snack food that is good and good for you. Here are a few fun facts about popcorn that you may not know.
Popcorn is actually a seed
According to Early Popcorn History, ancient ears of corn were discovered in a cave in New Mexico in 1948 that were believed to be approximately 4,000 years old. Burial chambers in Northern Chile contained bulk corn kernels estimated to be around 1,000 years old. Even as old as the kernels were, they were still able to pop when heat was applied to them. Early explorer Hernan Cortes invaded Mexico in 1519 and his first encounter with the Aztec Indians introduced him to what was known as “maize” or corn. They used it for cooking as well as decorations. It was dried and ground into flour for cooking or animal feed, or heated until it popped and made into garlands worn on the head.
What makes it pop?
Each little kernel or seed, contains moisture that turns into steam when the kernel is heated to an internal temperature of 300-460 degrees. Bulk popcorn kernels cooked using heated air or hot oil will burst or pop within a few minutes. Microwave popcorn cooks in 2 to 2 1/2 minutes using the same principle.
Recipe for Making Popcorn at Home:
3 Tbsp. cooking oil
1/3 cup bulk popcorn kernels
Heavy skillet with a tight lid
Heat the oil in the skillet until hot. Test the temperature by dropping one drop of cold water into the skillet. If it pops and sizzles, the oil is ready. The oil has to be heated at least to around 350 degrees for the corn to pop. If the oil isn't hot enough the corn kernels won't pop or they will take longer to cook resulting in a tougher end product. Add popcorn and put the lid on the skillet. Shake periodically while popping to keep from burning. When popping slows to 2 or 3 seconds between pops it is done.
People on low carb diets tend to avoid popcorn because of the carbohydrate count, but because it is a whole grain food it is low in calories and high in fiber. It is slower to digest which makes you feel fuller longer. Two tbsp. of bulk popcorn kernels makes a quart of popped corn for about 15 cents per serving making it a budget-friendly snack as well.