If you have grown any popping corn this year such as our Blue Mini Popcorn or Glass Gem Corn varieties, then your corn crops are likely to be finishing towards the end of summer or early autumn. You're probably now wondering what to do next and how to turn these gorgeous coloured cobs into deliciously fluffy homemade popcorn.
As with most maize or flint corn varieties its always best to wait until the corn husks are dry and have completely turned brown prior to harvesting the cobs. You will notice on Maize corn varieties the husks dry sooner than on sweet corn varieties. Continue to provide water to your crop right up until the time the husks turn brown to ensure you still get large full kernels on your cobs. Once the husks are brown it is time to harvest your corn cobs!
Remove the husks and silks from the corn cobs and place the cobs in a well-ventilated place with plenty of light and air movement around them. Elevating them on a cake rack (or similar) in the sunlight from a kitchen or laundry window is ideal. Turn the cobs daily to ensure they dry evenly and there is no moisture trapped underneath the cobs which could create mould. After 2-3 weeks your cobs should be dry enough to be ready to pop.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Don’t be tempted to accelerate the drying process by placing cobs in an oven at a low temperature or using a food dehydrator. Popcorn is a specifically grown and cultivated type of flint corn with an incredibly hard kernel hull, the kernels retain a small amount of water underneath the seed coating which when heated tries to expand and eventually produces enough steam within the kernel that the pressure causes the kernel coating to rupture, starches to expand and the kernel coating turns inside out. Corn kernels for popcorn need to retain some of their moisture content to be able to pop. If the kernels are too dehydrated, they simply will not pop.
You can pop the corn in many ways; in a microwave – which you can do on or off the cob, on a stovetop, or by using an air popper or popcorn maker. Below are instructions on the microwave and stovetop methods for making popcorn.
Microwave method (on the cob):
Place the entire corn cob into a brown paper bag, fold the bag over a couple of times at the top and twist the corners to ensure it stays closed during the popping process.
Lay the bag flat in your microwave and set timer for 90 seconds and press start (this is based on a 1100 watt microwave- you may need to adjust your times to match your microwave wattage). You don’t want to exceed 90-100 seconds in this method, or you will risk burning the dried cob.
At around a minute you should start to hear the corn popping. Once the microwave has finished, take the bag out of the microwave carefully as it will be hot. Be careful of steam when opening the bag. You will notice around half of the popcorn kernels have popped themselves right off the cob and the remainder of the kernels will be popped and still attached to the cob.
If you choose to remove the popcorn kernels from the cob before popping, you can still use the microwave method as it is quick and easy. Simply place the kernels (roughly 1/3rd of a cup) into a medium sized brown paper bag folded over at the top and place into the microwave for a maximum of 2 minutes. Once the popping slows down (listen for a two second gap between pops) you can stop the microwave as it will have finished cooking and your delicious hot popcorn will be ready for eating!
Remove the kernels from the dried cobs until you have around half a cup of kernels.
Find a medium sized heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add 50ml (or 2.5 tablespoons) of vegetable oil to your pan (you can use any vegetable oil, coconut oil or olive oil for this).
Add 2-3 kernels to the oil and turn your stove onto a medium heat. Once you see the kernels sizzling around the edges it’s time to add the remaining 1/2 cup of kernels to the hot oil.
Place remaining kernels into the saucepan, stir to ensure they are all evenly coated in oil and evenly spread across the bottom of the pan. Put the lid on your saucepan so that the corn doesn’t pop everywhere.
After a few minutes you should start seeing the kernels pop. Keep heating and gently shaking the saucepan until most kernels have popped. Once the popping slows down take the saucepan off heat and immediately remove the lid so that the steam doesn’t make the popcorn soggy.
Tip the popcorn out into a bowl and eat fresh (or season with salt and butter as desired).
Popcorn makes a great healthy wholegrain snack food and it’s a fun thing to make with kids, especially when made from home grown cobs. There’s nothing more satisfying than eating something you have grown yourself!