What is popcorn? This may seem like a leading question but have you ever thought about what kind of corn kernels are used in making popcorn and why it pops after being heated? Actually, popcorn is a kind of maize which is capable of bursting open because it has a kernel surrounded by a hard covering sealed by moisture. With its starchy, condensed interior, popcorn pops because pressure is created when this moisture is heated. Recently, researchers have created new hybrids of corn which are specifically cultivated to be used as popcorn.
Health Benefits of Popcorn
When eaten without any butter or salt added, popcorn provides a nutritional, low-fat snack, along with protein and traces of iron, thiamin and thiamine. Because it carries no sugar or sodium, it makes a perfect snack for those with dietary restrictions. Popcorn satisfies that need to crunch and chew on something, while not contributing to weight gain or sodium intake. Its high fiber content also adds to a feeling of fullness, which can help prevent overeating.
How to Cook Popcorn
Whether you’re looking for “how to cook pop corn” or “how to cook popcorn,” probably the best popcorn cooking tips concern keeping the heat at a certain level and choosing the right kind of oil. Oil that has a high-smoking point like peanut or canola oil works well when cooking popcorn on a stovetop. Pour enough oil to cover the bottom of the saucepan and add another teaspoon or two (this depends on how big the saucepan is). Once the oil is bubbling, throw in a couple of test kernels and wait for them to pop. Once you've established the oil is ready, pour in all of your kernels at once, cover the pan and begin swirling the pan around just above the heat so that the kernels do not become scorched.
What is Popcorn in the Microwave?
You can also pop popcorn in the microwave or buy pre-packaged popcorn in bags that you place in your microwave (right side up!) and simply push the "popcorn" button which most microwaves have as part of their cooking controls.
What is Popcorn Meant For Besides Eating?
Popped popcorn is also used in decorating, as packaging material and as a way to make people hungry (a favorite of merchants who sell food along with other merchandise). The reason why the smell of popcorn sets off hunger pangs is because popcorn consists of certain aroma chemicals such as tetrahydropyridine, 6-acetyl-2,3,4 and 5 and 2-acetyl-1-pyroline that exude a scent which is attractive for humans.
A Christmas tradition mainly held in the U.S. is making a decoration from stringing popped popcorn on a thread and draping it around the tree. In addition, popcorn is occasionally used a packing material because it is biodegradable and less expensive than the commonly used polystyrene. The problem with this is the popcorn smell also attracts insects, mice and other pests.
You can create some amazing snack dishes from popcorn which are great party favorites. Most popcorn recipes, such as caramel balls, are easy to make and do not require any cooking except for popping the corn itself.
How to Make Popcorn Balls
NOTE: This is very HOT; be careful and do not use any plastic. Have 5 quarts popped corn ready in large pan that has been buttered. Combine in buttered saucepan 2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup light corn syrup and 1 teaspoon vinegar. Stir to blend and bring to a boil, reduce heat and keep at rolling boil stirring occasionally until candy thermometer reaches 250F degrees.Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Immediately pour over popped corn and toss with metal or wood spoon to coat.popped corn. Butter hands and shape and press into balls.
Caramel Popcorn Balls
Mix all ingredients together except the popped popcorn. After greasing your hands with butter or oil, mix the popcorn with the ingredients and shape into small balls. What is popcorn without some caramel glaze and marshmallows!