Many people love the popular American delicacy - popcorn. Everyone knows that it is made from corn. But this is not any corn, but its special varieties, which are grown according to certain rules of agricultural technology. Popcorn corn is grown and then harvested and dried. Only then can it be used for its intended purpose.
According to legend, popcorn dates back to the days of the Indians. In 1630, the chief of the Kuodekuyan tribe came to the village of English colonists. It was there that he showed how to make popcorn, which in Indian tribes was considered not only food, but also a means for fortune telling. In Chicago, in 1886, popcorn began to be produced on an industrial scale. Standard use of this treat in cinemas began in 1912, when it was marketed to moviegoers. Corn kernels explode due to the starch inside and a small droplet of water. How the Indians came to this idea is still unknown. But in America there is even a special holiday called Popcorn Day. It is celebrated on January 22nd.
Popcorn popcorn varieties vary in name and appearance, but either way they have common traits that help the corn explode.
Why does corn explode
The presence of starch and water ensures that the corn explodes and turns into popcorn. Therefore, special grades are required, in which there is a hard and vitreous shell. Upon explosion, the remains of the shell remain on the final product. Popcorn varieties of corn have a lot of them.
The process itself occurs due to the large amount of moisture that is in the grain. If it is not enough, then moisture will not be able to break the shell. But too much water in the grain will lead to the fact that the normal temperature is not enough for the grain to explode. Therefore, varieties are needed in which there is only a small droplet of water. It boils under the influence of temperature and then turns into steam. It is this vapor that breaks the shell.
Which corn is suitable for popcorn
A suitable popcorn grain has the following features:
- thin but strong walls;
- varnished grain surface;
- low percentage of starch compared to other varieties of corn;
- more fat and protein.
It is these varieties that easily turn the liquid inside the grains into steam and burst under the influence of temperature in the microwave or in a frying pan.
The best corn varieties for making popcorn
There are several proven varieties of cereals for making an airy treat. They meet all the requirements and, with proper care, yield grains that can easily turn into popcorn under the influence of temperature. For those wishing to grow such corn, you can choose varieties according to the ripening period, yield and even the color of the grains. The variety is great, you can plant and grow such varieties in your own area. With proper care and storage, these varieties of unopened grains can be no more than 2%. The varieties of corn for popcorn are shown below in the photo. Some look very unusual, like the delicacy itself.
This is an early variety with low shoots. It reaches a height of 120 cm. The cobs are small, no more than 10 cm long. The grains have an interesting color, similar in shade to mahogany. It is characterized by the highest taste.
Another early variety that can be harvested as early as 80 days after planting. Particularly pleasing to novice gardeners, since it is resistant to drought, and also rarely lodges. Ideal for dry and hot regions with little rainfall. Higher than the previous variety, it reaches a height of 2 m. The length of the middle ear is 200 mm. The pearly grains have a uniform yellow tint.
A mid-early, high-yielding version of popcorn corn. Reviews about this variety are extremely positive. Height 130-170 cm, which is lower than most varieties. The length of the cob is 18-21cm. From germination to the appearance of the harvest and the technical ripeness of the variety, 90-95 days pass. Cobs in the form of a cylinder, large up to 250 g in weight. The grains are yellow, long, wide.
High grade up to 2 m. It has large ears 20-22 cm in length. Vulcan corn grains resemble rice in appearance, have an even yellow color. It has unique resistance to temperature extremes, drought and disease. Popcorn lovers note the high parameters of popcorn flavors from this particular corn variety. One ear will provide up to 120 g of excellent grains.
The variety has established itself as an early one. It takes 80 days from germination to harvest. The main difference between this variety and others is in the special shape of the grains. They are wide, long and rounded at the top. The color of the grains is burgundy red. The height of the Zeya variety is up to 1.8 m.The ear size is 20 cm.
Another variant of the early ripening variety for popcorn. The period from germination to harvest is 75-80 days. The corn is 1.6 m high, the cob is only 12 cm. The grains are pale orange in color, small. Quite a capricious variety, because it does not like drought and is picky about the soil. But it is resistant to disease.
This is a later specimen that ripens for storage about 100 days after germination. The largest ear size, for this variety, is 15 cm. The grains are small, oblong, and the plant itself is up to 2.2 m high.
Growing corn for popcorn
Anyone can grow popcorn corn on their site. But to get a delicious treat, you will have to try in the care and planting of plants. It is not enough just to choose a variety, you also need to grow it and provide all the subtleties of agricultural technology. First of all, it should be borne in mind that popcorn corn varieties are very thermophilic and are not suitable for growing in northern regions. Moreover, most of them tolerate drought and heat. It is not enough to properly grow a popcorn plant; it still needs to be harvested and properly dried.
When choosing a place for planting popcorn corn, it is necessary to take into account that corn has a strong rhizome. It will easily tolerate heavy soil, but does not get along well on light and sandy soils. The predecessors of corn should be potatoes, tomatoes, and early crops.
The optimal time for planting is mid-May. By this time, the threat of recurrent frosts and temperature extremes should be completely avoided.
The day before planting, it is better to apply nitrogen fertilizers in the soil at the rate of 150 g per 10 m2... Be sure to loosen the soil to a depth of 10 cm.
It is recommended to soak the grains before planting. Then they are planted in prepared holes, 1-2 grains each. The holes should be 50 cm apart. The distance between the rows is 40-60 cm.
Important! Sugar and popcorn varieties cannot be planted side by side. Otherwise, cross-pollination may occur, and then the popcorn from the grains will not work, they will lose their original qualities.
After planting, be sure to water all the holes.
Caring for future popcorn includes several mandatory rules. First of all, you need to monitor the regular watering of the plant. The corn needs to get a lot of moisture. It is necessary to water the plant 1-2 times a week. If there is no rain and it is too hot - 3-4 times a week. If it is possible to create a drip irrigation system, then mineral fertilizing can be added to the water.
Be sure to loosen the soil and remove weeds. In addition, additional feeding is important for cereals. The yield directly depends on them. The root system of popcorn varieties is a bit weak in terms of nutrition.
After the appearance of the first 5 true leaves, it is necessary to add urea or liquid organic matter. Before throwing out panicles, corn is fed with nitrophos or azophos. During the period when the cobs are formed, it is necessary to add potassium or nitrogen substances.
Pollination is also included in the care. Corn is pollinated by the wind, and only needs help in case of calm weather. It is necessary to shake the plants slightly for pollination to occur.
In addition to weeds, there are pests that are also enemies of corn. These include: wireworm, corn moth, swedish fly. As a preventive measure, you should not plant a plant in one place for several years in a row. For treatment, specialized drugs are used.
Collecting and drying corn for popcorn
Harvesting is one of the most important steps in popcorn production. If the grains are harvested at the stage of milky ripeness, as is done with sweet corn, they will not be able to explode in a frying pan. It is important that the grains ripen and even dry directly on the cob. A characteristic external feature of the finished grain is a vitreous shell.
You need to pick the cobs just before storing. It is necessary to collect them directly in the "clothes". After harvesting, all heads of cabbage lie in a cool and dry place for 30 days. After the end of this period, the raw materials are placed in paper or fabric bags. The best storage space would be a cellar or balcony.
Important! Overdrying popcorn is just as dangerous as not drying it out.
Overdried grain will not contain that droplet of moisture that is needed to open the grain. Subject to the storage conditions, popcorn on the cob can be stored for 3-4 years without loss of properties.
If corn is grown, harvested and stored in accordance with all the rules, then the level of disclosure will be 95% of the total number of kernels.
How to make popcorn at home
You can make popcorn at home in the microwave or in a skillet. When using a frying pan, you must choose the deepest container so that the grains do not jump out during cooking. The cooking algorithm is simple:
- Pour in a tablespoon of sunflower oil.
- Pour out the cereal so that it covers the bottom, no more.
- Cover with a lid and wait until the characteristic sounds stop.
- Season with salt or caramel to taste.
Can also be done in the microwave. Put the grains in a bowl with a little vegetable oil and cover. Warm-up time 3-4 minutes.
Popcorn corn differs from sugar corn in starch, water and fat content. Anyone can grow such varieties. There are some features of agricultural technology, but there are also non-capricious varieties. It is important that the grains are stored in a cool, dry place after harvest. Then the ready-made popcorn will be delicious and many times more useful than the store one. There are both early and later varieties. Therefore, it is necessary to choose a variety depending on the desired harvest time. Popcorn cereals require regular watering and fertilizing with mineral and organic fertilizers.