Popcorn is the most favorite snack that almost everyone loves to enjoy at any time. For some people, it is an instant mood lifter that brightens their boring time. From younger ones to older people, everyone enjoys eating it. Whether enjoying it with movies or having it in between study sessions, one can never get bored of it.
Have you ever thought about where popcorns come from?
During those golden childhood days, we used to watch the process of popcorn popping out of the cooker mesmerizingly. That was a beautiful sight to stare at. Never thought about what’s in the cooker that is coming out like popcorn. The sound of popping was aesthetically pleasing. Now remembering those days brought a beautiful smile to our faces.
Well, popcorns or popped corns are made from kernels when they pop on heating. The best popcorn kernels for air popper are kept in a pot and the heat causes them to expand turning into popcorn. A popcorn kernel is a type of Zea mays that are available in different varieties. All the varieties only differ in structure as two of them are rice maize kernels which are sharp at the base and apex and the other type is pearl popcorn which has more rounded grains.
When looking at the structure of a popcorn kernel in detail, some superficial regions can be easily understood. The shell and endosperm of the kernel are generally harder. Inside the hard endosperm, there is a moist heap of the starchy white endosperm. Usually, the optimum moisture present in popcorn kernel is 3.5 percent. What actually happens when we heat such kernels is the moisture present inside the kernel turns into steam and pressure is generated until the popcorn pops out as a white irregular-shaped structure.
Popcorns made out of popcorn kernels are not just a regular snack but it is a great alternative to unhealthy snack items the consumption of which is not good to eat on a regular basis. Several researchers have revealed that consuming popcorns kernels as a snack reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Instead of having excessive junk food, popcorn is a nutrient-rich snack that not only satisfies the craving but also gives energy.
In all, there are three types of the best popcorn kernels including white, small yellow, and large yellow. The difference in color generally originates at the genetic level during the production of the pericarp. The pericarp is similar to endosperm which constitutes 7 percent dry weight of the popcorn kernel. The pericarp is the most essential part of popcorn kernel without which kernel won’t transform into popcorn. Pericarp serves the function of protection of kernels as the damaged pericarp destroys the whole phenomenon.
Popcorn kernels are of two types; butterfly/snowflake popcorn and mushroom popcorn. Both the types differ in structure. The most commonly used kernels are butterfly/snowflake popcorn kernels as they are crunchier, soft, and tender. Usually, they are served in cinemas and on picnic spots. Mushroom popcorns are good for adding flavors as they taste better with different types of seasonings. Larger and softer than snowflake popcorn kernels. Other than these two types there are more complex varieties of popcorn kernels with slighter differences.
When it comes to the cultivation of best popcorn kernels, the Unites States ranks on top in the production of popcorn kernels. In addition to the US, popcorn kernels are also produced in India, Kentucky, Illinois, and Nebraska. On the maturation of the plant, the corn is picked up and passed through a combine harvester which separates the kernels from the cob. Next step is to maintain an optimum moisture level by drying these kernels in a particular container. The purpose of maintaining a moisture level is to speed up the process of popping.
Originally, there was only a single way of eating popcorn. Nowadays, various flavors are evolved to enhance the taste of popcorns. Different flavors add more taste to it but the original popcorn style will always remain the same. Youngsters love to enjoy caramel popcorn, cheese-flavored popcorn, cheddar spice popcorn, creamy butter popcorns, salt caramel popcorns, dark chocolate popcorns, and much more. It seems like you can add seasoning of your choice and it turns out to be a new flavor.
Comparing the nutritional values of popcorn kernel with other snacks led to the conclusion that popcorns are way more nutritious than other snacks. The high concentration of polyphenols makes popcorn a nutrient-dense snack. Talking about polyphenols, they are micronutrients derived from plants and protect the body cells from wear and tear. 300 gm of polyphenols are there in a single serving of popcorns which is double the amount present in fruits. The reason behind this much concentration of polyphenols in popcorn is the average water content of popcorn kernels. Approximately 4 percent water is present in popcorn kernels as compared to the water content of fruits that is 90 percent. When kernels are popped into popcorns, what is left is the starch and all the water content evaporates as steam. Starch and skin is the main location where all the fiber and polyphenols are present. After consuming popcorns, digestion occurs that transfers these polyphenols into the bloodstream. From the bloodstream polyphenol positively affects the health of the popcorn eater.
Popcorns are also a rich source of fiber. Eating fiber-rich snacks provides nothing but benefits. It is great for improving metabolism.
With the various popcorn flavors, different hacks are available to prepare popcorns. On different social media platforms, people are sharing interesting hacks to make popcorns from popcorn kernels. Microwave oven, instant pot, steamer, air fryer, and what not are being used to simplify the process of kernel popping. For fun purpose, people are sharing videos of making popcorn using a hair straightener.
With all the benefits of eating popcorn defined, there are some risk factors related to popcorn consumption. Children under three years are not recommended to eat popcorn as there is a high risk of choking. The popcorn kernel might get stuck in their throat which leads to severe complications. Butter-flavored popcorns are likely to cause respiratory problems as the artificial butter flavoring agent diacetyl is associated with lung disorders.
Not just kids enjoy eating popcorns but also love to contribute in preparing them. There are varieties of readymade flavored popcorns available in the market that can be cooked instantly in just 2 minutes. No matter how many different snacks are available popcorns will always be a favorite snack people love to hop on. Popcorns will never go out of style as no other snack will ever be able to match with popcorns. It was and is still eaten at a higher rate than other snacks.
Now that people love to enjoy popcorns, it provides a great option to run a popcorn business. Different home-based businesses are flourishing which start from scratch and are now famous for selling a variety of popcorns. Creativity is what makes your work distinct. Use best quality popcorn kernels and experiment with flavors.
No one can ever say no to popcorns. Popcorns change the mood and ability to do any work. It actually releases stress as you enjoy eating popcorn. It is a must-have when you are having some self relaxing time either by watching movies or reading books.