Keeping Popcorn Kernels Fresh
Popcorn “pops” because of the moisture inside the popcorn kernel. When heated, the water inside the kernel turns to steam, and the resulting pressure pops the kernel.
Roughly 15% of a kernel is water. According to the Popcorn Board, kernels must contain at least 13.5 to 14 percent moisture in order to pop, so there is not much difference between a fresh kernel and a “stale” one. In order to ensure your kernels pop, you need to safeguard the moisture inside. Here’s how:
- Store your kernels in an airtight container, not the plastic bag they come in. Once the bag is opened, air can get in and start to dry out the kernels. Just a few days can render some of the kernels unpoppable, leading to a large number of “old maids” in your batch of popcorn.
- Your popcorn container should be kept in a cool place, as heat can also dry out the popcorn.
- Do not refrigerate or freeze your kernels, however, as refrigerators and freezers are often very dry, and even in a good container, the kernels could lose some of their important moisture content.
- If you get a large number of “duds” in a batch of popcorn, that probably means your popcorn is dried out. Try soaking the remaining kernels in water for 10-20 minutes, then pat them dry before popping. This should improve your yield.
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