What causes some popcorn kernels not to pop?
The primary reason is moisture loss. Popcorn pops because it has an impermeable membrane (pericarp) that holds in water. The water inside the kernel superheats, causing so much pressure that the shell bursts. (See What makes corn kernels turn into the shape of popcorn?
Inside each kernel of popcorn is a tiny droplet of water surrounded by a hard shell called a hull. As the popcorn is heated, the water turns into steam, which builds pressure inside the kernel. When the hull can no longer contain the pressure — POP! — the kernel explodes and a fluffy new piece of popcorn is born.
- When the popcorn has finished popping, sometimes unpopped kernels remain. Known in the popcorn industry as "old maids," these kernels fail to pop because they do not have enough moisture to create enough steam for an explosion.
- Nearly all of the world's popcorn production is in the United States, with 25 states growing the crop. Over one fourth of the national production is in Nebraska, and Indiana produces only slightly less. Other major popcorn-producing states are Illinois, Ohio, and Missouri.
- If the heat is much hotter than 450 degrees Fahrenheit, the popcorn burns before it pops. If the temperature is below 450 degrees Fahrenheit, the popcorn won't pop because the moisture inside the kernels has not yet evaporated.
Can popcorn pop underwater? Popcorn works by heating up the tiny amount of water in the kernel, which then forces open the watertight shell, causing the little explosion of tasty goodness. It takes a minute or so in an air popper to heat the kernel to the point of popping.
- Place the popcorn kernels in one layer on the bottom of a deep pot, as shown in the picture in the post above, and close with the lid.
- Turn on stove on medium heat.
- Stay close to the stove as you'll need to listen to the kernels as they pop.
- Wait a few minutes for the popcorn to cool and move it to your desired bowl.
- Drizzle that clarified butter into a large pot then add a half-cup of unpopped popcorn. Put a lid on it, and heat over medium-high heat until your popcorn begins to pop. In less than five minutes, you'll have a batch of buttery butter-popped butteriness without a single bit of soggy.
- Heat a flat bottomed frying pan on medium heat.
- Add corn kernels to pan, cover with lid and continue heating, shaking pan gently every 20-30s.
- Once kernels start popping, shake pan gently every 5-10s.
- As soon as popping slows, turn heat off.
- Allow kernels to cool and serve.
Soak Unpopped Popcorn Kernels to Give Them a Second Chance. No matter what method you use to make popcorn, you always seem to end up with a few kernels that didn't pop. Soaking the kernels overnight in water can help them pop the second time around.
- Popcorn. Make un-popped popcorn kernels a thing of the past by storing your popcorn (microwave or plain kernels) in the freezer. This will make sure the popcorn doesn't lose any moisture, which can cause them not to pop. When it's time to pop the popcorn, use it straight from the freezer!
- Soak them in water for 15 minutes, pat them really dry and pop them. I tried this simple experiment : I popped 1/4 cup of kernels, then I popped 1/4 cup of soaked and pat-dried kernels.
- In the pantheon of popcorns, kettle corn sits somewhere in between plain popped corn and caramel corn. It's lightly golden — more or less so depending on the amount of sugar you use — and salty-sweet. It has a crisp crunch from the sugar coating, but won't stick to your teeth the way caramel corn sometimes does.
Updated: 2nd October 2019