Happy National Popcorn Day!
There is a day for everything: National Take a Bubble Bath Day (January 8), National Clean Off Your Desk Day (January 11) and National Pie Day (January 23) - and those are just the “holidays” in January. But National Popcorn Day? That’s something to celebrate.
The practice of popping corn has been around for millennium, with scientists finding evidence of Pre-Columbian indigenous peoples enjoying this treat. In the U.S., popcorn became popular in the 1800s, and reportedly was named after the sound the kernels make when they burst open.
The key to great popcorn is in the kernel. Here’s how it works: Inside each kernel, there is a small amount of water that is surrounded by the hull, or the hard shell. (Making sure this moisture level is really important when you’re growing and harvesting popcorn. If there’s not enough - or too much - water in the kernel, it won’t pop properly.)
When the popcorn kernel is heated up, that droplet of water becomes steam. As the steam expands, it builds up pressure inside the kernel until the hull explodes with a big POP. The result? A fluffy, mouth-watering piece of popcorn.
Here is what’s growing and what we’re stocking right now:
Baby White: Very mild in flavor, this is one of our favorites. We love this popcorn because once it is popped, there are very few of those shell-like pieces that can get stuck in your teeth - known as hulls - that will be found in your popcorn bowl.
Black Pearl: Looks black on the outside, but pops white with an occasional gray hue. They tend to be a smaller corn when popped, but they carry more antioxidants than either the red or yellow. Quite crunchy. (Should become available again in the spring of 2016.)
Extra Large Amish Caramel: Fat and yellow, this is your classic movie theater popcorn, only better. Pops big, with a creamy texture and a mellow flavor.
Midnight Blue: The color of the sky just as day turns to night. This corn pops medium-sized and tastes sweet. A great corn to pair with our Kettle Corn topping.
Mushroom: When we make caramel corn, this is the popcorn kernel we use. Packed with flavor, this produces a round, mushroom-style popping corn that is more dense and compact. And because it's round in shape, it holds up very well to being stirred in a pan. (We just love how its larger surface area clings to more of our popcorn seasonings!)
Northern Lights: A colorful blend of taste and texture, this popcorn mix harkens to the night sky during an Aurora Borealis. The mix is mostly our Black Pearl kernels, along with some of our Ruby Red and Royal Purple. When it pops, there are various sizes of delicious popped corn in shade of white, ivory & pale yellow. Slightly sweet and quite crunchy.
Over the Rainbow: A colorful mixture of the blue, caramel, purple, red and white kernels that all naturally grow on the same ear of corn. (Wild, right?) Festive and fun for a party.
Royal Purple: A deep, blue-purple color that pops white and has a slight nutty taste. Perfect for an afternoon snack.
Ruby Red: A deep, dramatic red, like tiny little rubies. When it pops, the corn is white with a subtle yellow hue. The texture is a nice mix of fluffy and crunchiness, and has a subtle nutty flavor.
How to Pop Our Popcorn:
You can use an air-popper to pop our kernels. However, they pop bigger and fluffier if you use the stove-top directions my grandma Emma taught me:
Using a 6 quart pan, add 4 T oil (we think vegetable, peanut or coconut work best) and 4 popcorn kernels. (Essentially, enough oil to cover the bottom of your sauce pan.)
Cover the pan with a lid and place it over medium heat. When these kernels pop, the oil is extremely hot. VERY CAREFULLY add about 1/3 cup of kernels, re-cover your pan and shake the pan back and forth, to coat the corn kernels and prevent burning.
When the popping sound slows to one pop every 3 - 5 seconds, remove the pan from the heat and transfer the popcorn into your snack bags or favorite bowls, and enjoy!