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Popcorn kernels: specially grown for popcorn

Common corn is not suitable for making popcorn

Salty, sweet or coated in chocolate - there are many different flavours for popcorn. But not just any corn kernels can be used to make delicious popcorn. Making it requires popcorn corn - known as popping corn - specially grown for this purpose. It has a relatively thin shell that is still harder than more common varieties. Normal corn kernels are generally too dry or too soft, and are thus unable to burst under heat. The quality of popcorn kernels is measured by various criteria. For instance, the expansion - the size ratio between the kernel before and after bursting - is a mark of quality. Popcorn kernels also should not be too dry in order to achieve optimal results.

Types of corn: butterfly and mushroom

There are two different types of popping corn: butterfly and mushroom. As the name states, popped butterfly kernels take the shape of a butterfly. Mushroom kernels, on the other hand, slightly resemble the round shape of a mushroom. If the popcorn being made is going to be enhanced further, e.g. into premium cocoa popcorn, it is best to use popped mushroom kernels. Their compact form makes them less prone to breaking. Therefore popped mushroom kernels facilitate the mechanical demand of holding the chocolate glaze.

From popcorn kernels to finished popcorn

When the corn is being heated in a popcorn machine, the water stored in the kernel turns from a liquid into a gaseous state, causing it to expand. Once the shell can no longer withstand the pressure of the steam, the heated starch bursts in a fraction of a second and forms a foam-like structure. This shape immediately solidifies from rapid cooling and can be snacked on as popcorn - at its best when it is completely fresh.

Dry kernels burst poorly

Corn grown large scale in Central Europe is primarily intended for obtaining starch, cattle feed or energy. These varieties can only make very poor popcorn, or none at all. Too little water is stored inside of their kernels to build up pressure in the popcorn kettle. If kernels are damaged, the moisture can also dissipate directly through the openings when heated. The typical explosive bursts are thus simply impossible.