Popcorn

From Academic Kids

For other uses, see Popcorn (disambiguation).
Missing image
Popcorn.jpg
Popped kernels

Popcorn or popping corn is a type of maize which puffs up when it is heated in oil or by dry heat. Special varieties of corn are grown to give improved popping yield. Some wild types will pop, but the cultivated strain is Zea mays L. subsp. mays (Everta Group), which is a special kind of flint corn. First developed by precolumbian Native Americans, popcorn is now a popular snack food all over the world.

In the United States, popcorn is particularly common in movie theaters. It is often served with butter and salt. It is also sometimes flavored with sugar (especially in Europe) or spices. In Sweden it is sometimes served with sugar and vinegar.

Popcorn balls (popped kernels stuck together with a sugary "glue") are a traditional Halloween treat. Cracker Jack is a popular, commercially produced candy that consists of peanuts mixed in with caramel-covered popcorn.

Five popular brands of popcorn in the United States are Orville Redenbacher, Act II, Jiffy Pop (all three of which are brands of the ConAgra Foods conglomerate), Pop Secret and Black Jewell, a premium specialty brand.

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NutritionFacts_popcorn_airpopped.png
Nutrition information for air-popped popcorn

How popcorn pops

As with all grains, each kernel of popcorn contains a certain amount of moisture in its starchy endosperm. Unlike most other grains, the outer hull or pericarp of the popcorn kernel is thick and impervious to moisture.

As the kernel is heated past the boiling point, this water begins to turn to steam. In kernels of other grains (and in damaged kernels of popcorn), this steam escapes as fast as it forms, but in the tightly sealed popcorn kernel, the steam is held tight by the pericarp and the pressure starts to build until the pericarp suddenly ruptures, causing a small explosion. The force of the explosion turns the kernel inside out. More importantly, because the moisture is evenly distributed throughout the starchy endosperm, the sudden expansion turns the endosperm into an airy foam, giving popcorn its special texture.

The key to achieving this effect is the sudden transition from a high pressure to a low pressure. Other puffed grains can be made by artificially inducing this transition through a process involving high pressure, steam and a sudden opening of the pressure vessel.

Unpopped kernels are referred to in the industry as "old maids". While most such kernels are screened out by evaluating their moisture content, which must be in a narrow range, research published in 2005 and lead by Dr. Bruce Hamaker of Purdue University showed that the other reason for old maids are leaky hulls.

Trivia

  • Popcorn has been served in movie theaters since 1912.
  • Buttered popcorn sells twice as well as plain popcorn.
  • The first popcorn, made by Native Americans, was flavored with dried herbs & spices.
  • Unpopped kernels remaining among popped kernels are known as "Old Maids."
  • The average popping temperature for popcorn is around 175°C (347°F)de:Popcorn

eo:Krevmaizo fr:Pop-corn fi:Popcorn it:Pop corn ja:ポップコーン (食品) sv:Popcorn zh:玉米花

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