Growing Your Own Popping Corn

Growing Your Own Popping Corn


Today on Extreme Science, Walt and Gerry figured out why popping corn will pop, but sweetcorn doesn’t. Popping corn pops because it has a hard hull or shell, and a small amount of water inside.When you cook popping corn, the water inside the kernel heats up and turns to steam.The steam is trapped inside the hard hull of the kernel and has nowhere to go.So the pressure of the steam builds and builds, until it busts out and pops the kernel which is how we get popcorn!
This doesn’t work for sweetcorn – because the hull of the corn kernel is too soft to trap steam.So you have to use popping corn to make popcorn!
Popping corn is just a different type of corn and you can grow it in your garden… here’s how…

First, you’ll need the seeds to plant – which are actually just corn kernels!
You can buy popping corn seeds online from websites like Trademe, or try:

You can also check out Farmer’s Markets if there’s one near you, or you could try growing organic popcorn kernels from a Health Food Shop.
There are lots of cool varieties of popcorn – there’s the regular kind that you buy with yellowy orange husks but you can also get ‘strawberry popcorn’ which has red husks, black popcorn and other varieties too.

How to Grow Popcorn:

Plant your popcorn in the summertime.Soak the seeds in water for a few hours before you plant them.Plant the seeds 3 – 4cm deep and 15 – 20cm apart.You should choose an area with rich soil and lots of sunlight, and give your popcorn seeds plenty of water.Once the stalks are knee-high, heap up soil around the roots at the bottom to give the plants extra support.

Corn usually takes 85 – 120 days to be ready.Once your ears of popping corn are ready to be picked, you’ll need to let them dry out before they’re ready to be popped.Leave them in a nice dry spot until the husks around the corn cob are dry like paper and the corn kernels inside are really hard.

The moisture level inside the popping corn kernels needs to be just right for perfect popcorn – so when your corn starts to look dry, take a few kernels off every 3 or 4 days and try popping them – once you’ve reached the stage where they pop well and taste good, you can scrape the kernels from the cobs and your popping corn is ready to make into homemade popcorn!

Remember to set aside some seeds so you can grow another lot of popcorn again next year!

One thing to keep in mind is that you can’t grow popping corn in the same garden as sweetcorn – because they might cross-pollinate, which will make your sweetcorn less delicious and your popcorn not pop properly.

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