Popcorn

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Popcorn is the popular name for ‘popping corn’. The kernel of maize tends to swell up on application of heat and bursts with a popping sound. It produces a ‘pop’ like sound as its kernel is hard and totally sealed off cavity filled with starch which permits the pressure to build up until it becomes intense and explodes with a popping sound. However, some specialized strains of maize are now being cultivated as the popping corns.

 

There are a number of strategies to prepare according to popcorn recipes. Charles Cretors invented the first machine for preparing the popcorn back in the second half of the nineteenth century. A number of smaller machines designed for home use have also been in use since then. It is an extremely popular snack throughout US and is also available in the popular pre packaged variety.

 

The Boy Scouts as well as the Girl Guides of America sell it from door to door in order to raise funds for their cause. It is the most popular snack sold at the movie theaters and has remained a fixture from 1912 to date.

 

The largest  ball in the world was created at Lake Forest of Illinois with popcorns. The huge ball weighed a whopping 1550 kilograms and had an 8 km diameter.

 

History of Popcorn Recipes

The Native Americans belonging to USA are credited with the discovery of the  recipes. Evidences of popcorn being consumed during the pre historic times since 3600 BC have been uncovered in New Mexico.

 

The English colonists learnt about it  when they landed on the American soil. The popcorn industry was the only industry to have thrived during the great depression making it possible for small farmers to eke out a living during those hard times.

 

World War II saw a rationing of sugar which again proved to be a boon for the industry with the Americans adopting the popcorn as their most favored snack item.

 

Ingredients And Popcorn Recipes

The grain of maize is the only ingredient that is required to make the product. The kernel of the grain contains moisture as well as a little oil and the inside is filled with a dense starch. The oil along with the moisture within the thick hull of the maize kernel gets converted into steam once it is heated past its boiling point. The starch also gets softened and gelatinizes. The pressure keeps on building up until the hull of the kernel explodes with a loud ‘pop’. The proteins along with the starch form a kind of foam around the kernel which cools down rapidly to appear like a white puff surrounding the hard kernel.

 

Special varieties  are now grown to improve the popping property of the grain. Although some of the wild varieties of the grain can be used in  recipes, the cultivated strain of maize is known as the Indian corn or Flint corn.

 

Methods for Preparing Popcorns

Limited quantities of the corn can be prepared by following the  recipes at home. However, the first steam driven machine was first introduced in America by Charles Cretors in 1893. It allowed the grain to be popped in oil. A mixture of butter, lard and salt was used to pop the corn and the method did not emit much smoke. The result was a regularly cooked softer form of popcorn which could be kept uniformly warm for quite some time.

 

The Chinese popcorn recipes as well as their procedure varies widely from the universal procedure. The corn is kept in a closed container and rotated over a fire until the pressure reaches a certain level. It is then removed from the fire with a large cloth sack draped over it and the seal uncovered gently. All the corns explode with a loud sound and is poured into the sack.

 

Small machines ideal for home use are also available now. Most of them are air poppers while a few of them can make use of butter while making it. However, the most popular form  come in the prepackaged form which can be popped by using a microwave.

 

Serving Popcorns

There are primarily of two types of popcorn, salty and sweetened. The salted version is more commonly served all across America with the caramel popcorn and the kettle corn representing the sweetened varieties.

 

The people of UK also prefer to serve it with salt although there are provisions of serving it with sugar as well. The toffee or the caramel variety is not as popular among the British people on account of its expense.

 

Variations Of Popcorn Recipes

While the dry salted variety remains one of the most favored snacks of the country, there are a number of variations of the traditional recipes which have been exceedingly popular as well. The most commonly consumed popcorns all across the United States of America are:-

 

  • Butter Salt- Flavored with butter salt, a golden yellow powder which imbibes the flavor of both butter and salt in it.
  • Caramel Corn-  covered in molasses or caramel.
  • Kettle Corn- A combination of sweet and salty flavor.
  • Mustard Corn- Sprinkled with black pepper powder, mustard and thyme, usually served hot.

 

Nutritional Value Of Popcorns

The popcorn is a delicious and extremely nutritious snack as it is high in fiber with no sodium, fat or sugar present in it. The artificial flavorings that go into it in order to enhance the taste of the corn however, makes it extremely unhealthy as it is practically smothered in butter and salt or sugar making it high in fat content.

 

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended not serving popcorns to kids below the age of four as it is liable to cause choking.

 

 Trivia

  • Popcorns threaded together serve as Christmas decorations in America and the Balkan Peninsula.
  • It has been used as a bio degradable packaging material by some shipping companies.
  • Popcorn is also a synthpop instrumental tune composed by Gershon Kingsley in 1969.