Ever wondered how take a dried corn cob and turn it into homemade popcorn? Learn to grow, dry and harvest kernels for fresh popcorn with this easy tutorial.
Growing Popcorn on the Cob
Have you ever grown your own popcorn? Popcorn is different from sweet corn, which is the corn we reserve for heaps of butter and Sunday afternoons.
If you want to grow popcorn, you’ll need to isolate it from sweet corn because they will cross pollinate. If they do that, each will ruin the other. Crossed popcorn becomes too soft to pop and sweet corn becomes hard and nasty.
The best way, in my opinion, to control cross pollination in different varieties of corn is to isolate them by planting time time. You do this by planting one variety one week and a different variety two weeks later.
Here is an article on everything you’d like to know about growing popcorn.
To dry popcorn on the cob you can simply hang it by the husk in a place with good air circulation and low humidity. You have to experiment a bit with your climate to hit a sweet spot of dehydration for optimal popping.
Without fancy hygrometers to measure the moisture in your popcorn, you’ll just have to do your best to guess.
Here’s one popcorn grower who wanted to speed up the dehydration process just a bit so he could enjoy his popcorn right away. He conducted a fascinating little experiment that’s worth a few minutes to watch.
It should be pointed out that if you use an heirloom variety of popcorn, AND prevent cross-contamination, you can save some dried kernels back for planting next year.
Get the Popcorn Off the Cob
Before you can make homemade popcorn, you’ve got to get the kernels off the cob. This is a great job for kids.
- Spread out some tablecloths or sheets to catch all the kernels.
- Use your fingers to pry loose some kernels. Once a few are out, the rest come more easily.
- Pick out bits of cob that might fall into your pile.
Word to the wise, don’t let your kids try banging the cobs on each other to get the kernels loose – it doesn’t work. Ask me how I know.
More Details and Reminders for Popcorn
- Remember to wash your hands and dry them well.
- You may want to work over a large bowl, but still put down sheets to catch wayward kernels.
- Once you’ve cleared an area about an inch in diameter on the cob, the kernels come out so much easier. If you have very small children helping you, do this step for them and then hand over the cob.
- Twisting the cob between both hands is also effective at removing kernels.
- Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place.
Popcorn Cob Scraper
Our Stoney Acres has an article detailing a wooden scraper he makes to get his popcorn off the cob. This might not work for the kids just because of hand strength and coordination, but it would make it SO much easier when I’m doing it. Maybe the grown ups should have a contest!
Here’s the link for Removing Popcorn Kernels from Stoney Acres.
Freshly dried popcorn pops up beautifully if dried well. We use an air popper most often because they’re quick and easy. We usually melt butter and coconut oil together, add a touch of sea salt and mix that all together with the homemade popcorn.
If you’d prefer to use a stove-top popper, we have a great method highlighted at the end of this post.
We noticed that the yellow kernels made a golden colored popcorn and the red kernels made a popcorn with a decidedly rosy hue.
Recipes for Homemade Popcorn
Below are some wonderful ways to use popcorn, including how to pop it on the stove top.