Why Does Popcorn Pop?

Popcorn has been a popular treat for centuries. There are still people who enjoy eating a variety of types of popcorn. At the same time, have you ever wondered why your popcorn pops to begin with? After all, the popcorn kernels do not look anything like popcorn after they come out of the microwave or pot. What makes them pop? If you would like to learn more about what makes popcorn pop, take a look at a few important points below. Remember to use high-quality kernels if you would like your popcorn to taste delicious. 

Looking at the Structure of the Kernel

In general, a popcorn kernel is made out of two separate layers. Both layers have to work together if you would like to enjoy a delicious treat when you take your popcorn off of the stove or out of the microwave. It is the exact composition of corn kernels that creates the conditions that are necessary for your popcorn to pop.

The outside layer of popcorn kernels is light, yellow, and transparent. This is where the popping action takes place. When the hull of the kernel is intact, it is impervious to moisture. Therefore, none of the moisture that is inside of the kernel is going to be released until the hull itself is actually breached. The hull is going to act as the pressure vessel as the popping process unfolds.

The endosperm of the kernel is located inside the hull. The endosperm is made up of hard starch. There is a small amount of moisture that is in the endosperm as well. Before your popcorn kernel pops, it is as hard as a rock. You may have experienced this for yourself when you bite into the kernel accidentally. There are some cases where you might actually break a tooth. 

Popping the Perfect Popcorn

It is the structure of this hull that contributes to the popping process itself. When you expose the kernel to an extreme amount of heat, the moisture that is inside the kernel gradually turns to steam. Eventually, this steam is pushed past its boiling point thanks to the pressurized environment in which it lives. Because the heat is under a tremendous amount of pressure, it turns the starch to a gelatin material. That means the kernel is now malleable.

As you continue to heat the kernel, the pressure eventually rises to the point that the hull can no longer contain it. That is when the whole ruptures. When the kernel pops open, this contributes to the popcorn you see when you pull it out of the microwave or off of the stove. The gelatinized starch will pop open, creating the perfect piece of popcorn. Then, when the steam leaves, the temperature quickly drops. Therefore, the popcorn can return to a solid form once again. The result is a beautiful piece of fluffy popcorn. 

Common Mistakes While Popping Popcorn

After you take your popcorn out of the microwave, you may look at it, wondering what happened. After all, and every batch of popcorn, there always seemed to be a few kernels that never fully pop or crack open. There are a lot of reasons why this might take place; however, there may simply be a missing link in the formula.

The most common reason why the colonel doesn’t pop open is that the hull was not structured the right way. If the hall has a crack in it, or if it is compromised in any way, then the pressure is not going to build up inside the kernel. If the pressure does not build up, the steam never has to escape. Therefore, the hull doesn’t need to crack open. As these unpopped kernels are heated in the microwave, the moisture slowly turns to steam; however, it can simply leak out of the crack instead of popping the hull open. It is possible for these kernels to stay completely intact. Sometimes, they may split open before the starch turns to gelatin. This is another possible reason why the colonel may not pop open.

It is also possible that the kernel may not actually have enough moisture in it. If that is the case, there may not be enough steam inside of the kernel. If there is not enough moisture, there’s not enough steam. If there’s not enough steam, then the kernel will never be able to pop open. It is important for popcorn manufacturers to make sure they properly dry the kernels and store them. That way, there is enough moisture for the kernels to pop open. That is why you need to rely on the best popcorn kernels around, including those from Shumway Farms.

Finally, another reason why the kernel may not pop open is that it simply hasn’t been heated properly. Your popcorn is going to pop best if you expose it to dry heat that is produced by either oil or air. This type of heat is responsible for surrounding the colonel. Then, it heats it quickly and evenly. If your popcorn is not heated fast enough, then it may not pop open. Or, if the temperature never gets high enough, this may prohibit pressure from building up as well. Therefore, you need to think carefully about how you are heating your popcorn. This is going to have a tremendous impact on the ability of your popcorn to pop properly. If your popcorn doesn’t pop open, it will simply burn instead.

These are just a few of the reasons why your popcorn may not pop completely. There is nothing wrong with a few kernels in the batch not popping; however, you do have to be careful that you do not burn your popcorn in the process. If you would like to prevent these issues from happening, then it is important to rely on a company that has experience providing you with the best popcorn possible. If you use the right kernels, you should enjoy delicious popcorn every time you crack open the bag.