The 5 Best Popcorn Kernels You Need In Your Life And How To Make Popcorn Pop

Did you know that an average American adult consumes roughly around 70 quarts of popcorn a year? Do you realize what that means? That is hundreds of billions of quarts of popcorn we are talking about!

Mind you, this is just in America, how much more do you think the whole world consumes each year?

I guess that’s enough grounds to say that popcorn is indeed a staple snack, but do you know where popcorn is from?

How is it made? What makes it pop? Can all corns pop?

All these and more as we come along and learn the 5 best popcorn kernels you need in your life and how to make popcorn pop.

**Below, you'll find more detailed reriews, but you can click links above to see current prices and read customer's reviews on Amazon

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Corn: History, Types, and Uses

Corn, technically, is a grain but it can also be categorize as a fruit or vegetable depending on how it is produced, used, or cooked.

The said crop is believed to have originated in Latin countries, specifically Mexico, and was brought to other nearby areas by native people. Indians were the ones who transported and first cultivated it in America.

Back in 1903, there are more than 300 varieties of corn, but through intensive research and food variety extinction, only 12 species were able to survive after 80 years. Experts continuously run experiments on corn’s genome to enhance its taste, size, cultivation process, production, etc.

As of now, we can subdivide corn into 6 categories – sweet corn, popcorn, flour corn, dent corn, flint corn, and pod corn.

Sweet corn – Sweet corn is the typical yellow crop that we all used to see and eat during parties and special occasions. It can be grilled, broiled, or baked, but it is best when buttered. It is sweet because it is being harvested even before its sugar content turns into starch. You can also use its kernel for dessert recipes like Maja Blanca.

Popcorn – Another famous one, especially during movies and Super Bowl, is popcorn. Unlike sweet corn, it has a harder outer shell (called hull) and more starch content. It is called as such because it puffs into beautiful cloud-like pieces when heated.

Flour corn – This is probably one of the oldest species of corn. It has soft and filled with so much starch that’s why it is best used for baking. By the way, it is different from cornmeal because cornmeal is from sweet corn.

Dent corn – As the name suggest, it has little dents on its kernels. This is why it is not typically used and produced for human consumption. it is primarily used as animal feeds, but some are converted into corn syrup, drinks, and renewable energy source.

Flint corn – This particular type of corn is also used as animal feed and is not for human consumption.

Pod corn – Pod corns are also known as Indian corns. It comes in different forms, shapes, and sizes. This is why it is produced and used as ornament. It is also not for human consumption.

For more information about corn or other produce, just go to:

Let’s Get To Know More About Popcorn…

Now that we know more about the different types of corn and their uses, let us focus more on popcorn – its background, varieties, kernel types, and some popping methods.

Have you ever wondered where popcorn comes from? I don’t know about you, but before, I thought that popcorn, per se, is just manufactured by food companies by drying out sweet corn and turning it into these pellets that pops when subjected to heat. It is embarrassing but at least now I know that is comes from a real plant.

But, how does it pop? Can all other types of corns do too? What makes it pop?

Background

Did you know that archeologists were able to retract this 80 thousand-year-old pellet that looks a lot like the popcorn ones that we have now?

Not only that, they were also able to find popcorn preserves in Mexico, Peru, and Utah that are believed to be thousands of years old! What’s more interesting is that the said popcorn were well-kept that they can still pop.

These discoveries strengthen experts’ theory that ancient people already know and eat popcorn.

Science

Popcorn is a monocotyledon plant under the mays species and popcorn kernels are actually seeds. Each has a little embryo enveloped in a soft cushion of starch and is protected by a hard shell called hull. That cushion of starch will be its source of energy as it start to grow into a plant.

What makes popcorn pop?

Remember the starch cushion that cradles the embryo? It is filled with a small amount of water (technically, it is moist).

When the kernels are subjected to high heat, usually around 400-600°F, the moisture inside it turns into vapor and when the protective shell can no longer withstand the pressure inside, it pops. The starch then blooms into a cotton-like substance.

You may be wondering why there are inevitable pieces of kernels that don’t pop every time you, say, microwave a popcorn bag. Ideally, a kernel should have at least 14% of water or else, it won’t pop at all.

Can other types of corn pop too?

No. Only popcorn varieties have the ability to pop.

Health Benefits (And Risks) Of Popcorn

There’s a huge confusion and misconception going on right now when it comes to popcorn, or just corn in general, especially with regards to the different diet programs springing here and there.

Is popcorn healthy or not?Let me tell you that fresh plain popcorn is beneficial to the body. How?

Whole Grains

Way back in 2005, the US Department of Agriculture released a nutritional guideline. Part of it is their recommendation to eat and prefer whole grains than finely processed ingredients. Why? What is meant by whole grain?

Whole grains means all three essential parts of the grain are intact: 

Endosperm – this part of the grain is packed with protein and some fiber.

Bran – bran contains fiber, essential minerals, antioxidants, and B vitamins.

Germ – it has high amounts of oils, protein, and vitamins B and E.

Popcorn is a whole grain.

Polyphenols

There was a study conducted by the University of Scranton about 5 years ago that proves that the antioxidant properties of popcorn is much higher than other fruits. They found a high concentration of polyphenols on the hull. This means that popcorn has high potential to lower risks of cancer.

Fiber Content

If you don’t know yet, popcorn has high fiber content. So, what? Fiber, strictly speaking, does not contain any nutrition on its own, but it is greatly beneficial to the body because it sweeps off bad cholesterol in the blood stream like a good ‘ol broom. Lower blood cholesterol means lower risks of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

Another thing, fiber helps the body regulate blood sugar and insulin level, so popcorn is good for diabetics – just skip the flavorings.

Is popcorn a junk food? Does it have any health risks?

You have to keep in mind that we are talking about the natural fresh unflavored popcorn here and it is not junk. What’s unhealthy is the processed and flavored popcorn you get in a bag or little packets.

Some studies link artificial flavoring and processed popcorn to serious health issues like diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

The solution is simple – buy fresh natural organic ones.

Types Of Popcorn Kernels

I am not sure if you have noticed this while munching on your bowl of popcorn, but there are actually two types of popcorn kernels ones they pop: Butterfly and Mushroom.

Butterfly or snowflake sort of blooms once heated. Mushroom, on the other hand, curls up into an almost ball-like structure. There’s actually not much difference between the two when it comes to taste, but I find the butterfly one a little crunchier than the other.

The former is best buttered or salted while the latter is more appropriate with chocolate coatings.

What To Look For In A Good Popcorn Kernel?

1 - Freshness

The very first thing you need to consider every time you will buy popcorn kernels, whether in store or online, is its freshness. A stale popcorn will taste bad and turn out dull. How to ensure freshness? Read along.

2 - Packaging and storage

To ensure freshness, the kernels should be sealed tightly and in a clean dry area under room temperature. When you buy from grocery stores, make sure the cap is tight and secured and the container sturdy.

Buying popcorn kernels online is okay too. Just make sure you check everything right when it arrives at your door step so you can report or return it immediately if ever there are damages.

3 - Go natural

Prefer organic brands because with it you can make sure that it is all natural and that it was not exposed in any form of chemical.

Popping Methods

There are a few different ways to pop your popcorn: stove top, microwave, and air popper machines.

Stove Top Technique

Heating your popcorn on a stove top is one of the oldest techniques I know. Just get a pan or pot, set the stove on medium high heat, pour some oil, and then add the popcorn kernels.

Microwave Technique

I don’t recommend you buying popcorns that are already in small flavored packs and you just need to heat it up in the microwave. You can buy organic popcorn kernels and pop it in the microwave. Here’s how…

Air Popper Machine

Having an air popper at home can be very convenient especially if you love making popcorn. Not all poppers are the same, but usually you just have to fill the measuring cup that it comes with, pour it into the machine, put the cover on, and turn it on. Also, make sure you have a clean bowl ready to catch the popped kernels.


5 Best Popcorn Kernels

Now that we know everything we need to about popcorn, it is time to look at the top 5 best popcorn kernels in the market. I will provide you with an honest review of each of these brand and at the end of the article, we will see which one I’ll recommend best.


1. Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popcorn Kernels

Via Amazon.com

When we speak of high quality popcorn kernels, Orville, for me, is usually one of the top of the line. I like serving this when I have friends and family come over.

PROS

CONS

  • Inexpensive
  • Easily blends with flavorings like salt, sugar, butter, and spices
  • Available and easy to find in most grocery stores and online
  • Sturdy container
  • Can be easily stored
  • Hulls stay intact after popping (for me this is good because hulls are nutritious too)
  • GMO-free
  • Kernels can be easily poured
  • No added ingredients and flavorings
  • Not all kernels pop
  • Short expiration date
  • Can be a little bit less fluffy than other products

2. Franklin's Gourmet Movie Theater Popcorn

Via Amazon.com

What I love most about Franklin’s is that a huge pack is filled with even smaller ones. This ensures freshness.

PROS

CONS

  • Pre-measured
  • Tightly packed
  • GMO-free
  • Organic and vegan
  • Gluten-free
  • Can easily be stored
  • Easily gets stale
  • A bit salty and chewy
  • A lot of kernels don’t pop
  • Already pre-flavored

3. Paragon Bulk Bag Yellow Corn

Via Amazon.com

My family is undeniably popcorn addicts, so we love Paragon because we get so much from the bag but it is not pricey.

PROS

CONS

  • Large popped kernel
  • High popcorn yield
  • Holds its shape even if seasoned with fluids (such as melted butter and chocolate)
  • Inexpensive
  • Comes in a bulky pack that is a little difficult to store
  • Easily becomes stale when not transferred into a better container with a tight seal

4. Country Harvest Popcorn Portion-Pack for 4-Ounce Poppers

Via Amazon.com

Whenever I travel with my family and/or friends, we love bringing this small pack of Country Harvest because it is ergonomical and comes in a complete package with seasoning. We do not have to worry where to get salt or something.

PROS

CONS

  • Ergonomical and economical
  • Pre-measured
  • HandySuper crunchy when cooked with olive oil
  • High popcorn yield using stove technique
  • A bit more expensive that other brands
  • A bit difficult to store the excess, if there are any

5. Wabash Valley Farms Amish Country Gourmet Popping Corn

Via Amazon.com

If you are not fond of hulls sticking in between your teeth, then you might not like this one, but I don’t mind it at all because I know I get a lot of nutrients and fiber from it.

PROS

CONS

  • Super crunchy popcorn
  • Great for microwave technique
  • Pre-seasoned
  • A little greasy (due to the coconut oil content)
  • A bit salty
  • Difficult to store
  • Not good for buttered popcorn

What I Have To Say…

Overall, honestly, all these popcorn kernel brands are superb. I love them all.

If you were to ask me which ones I prefer the most for myself, I’d have to say the Orville one because it is convenient to store and access. I do not have to worry about transferring it to other containers.

Plus, it is delicious!

Although, like I said, my family loves Paragon because you can get the most out of it and it is worth your money. It is indeed a bang for a buck!

At the end of the day, it’s still up to you: which one you trust more, what brand suits your budget, and which popcorn kernel is perfect for your own personal taste.

If you have tried any of these products, tell us what you think by leaving a comment down below. I would also love to hear your suggestions and questions.

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Sophia Gardner
 

I’m Sophia, food blogger, dog lover, homemade cooking and travel passion. I really hope you enjoy my blog, i’ll do my best to share great recipes, healthy living tips and just general ‘food’ thoughts!

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