what is a popcorn kernel made of

The majority of the popcorn grown and sold worldwide comes from the Midwest, in an area known as the Corn Belt of the United States.

In the Midwest, the summers are long and hot, which allow enough time for growing the crop. The soil is deep and fertile and rich in organic material, providing plants with the needed nutrients to grow. The Midwest gets enough water through regular rainfall or with irrigation systems from nearby rivers, lakes, and wells. The flat land makes it easier when planting and harvesting crops.

Popcorn is a whole grain maize product. It resembles corn-on-the-cob in appearance and cultivation, although only popcorn kernels have the ability to pop.

Popcorn, like all six types of corn, is a cereal grain and originates from a wild grass. Its scientific name is Zea mays everta, and it is the only type of corn to actually pop.

Popcorn is made up of three main components: endosperm, germ and the pericarp (also known as hull or bran). The endosperm is made up of soft and hard starch granules. The endosperm is always white or yellow in color and is a carbohydrate. The function of the starch is to provide energy for the living part of the kernel, more commonly known as the “germ” or “embryo.” The outer hull of the kernel is the pericarp, which is made of cellulose. The pericarp or hull is usually white or yellow in color, though the range of colors includes red, black and many colors in between.

Each kernel of corn is actually a seed that, like most seeds, contains an embryo (a baby plant) and a seed coat for protection. Corn seeds are filled with a starchy endosperm that provides food for the baby plant (it’s stained black in right-half of each kernel in the photo below).
what is a popcorn kernel made of

Breeding the Popcorn Seed

Popcorn seeds are bred to produce desirable traits such as stalk strength, grain color and successful popping. Plant breeders select popcorn for genetic traits by using inbreeding. Inbreeding is taking the pollen from the tassel (male flower) from a single plant and using that pollen to fertilize the silk (female flower) of that same plant. Inbreeding leads to genetic segregation, whereby the plant breeder is able to identify, select and save the seed of desirable plants. The breeder then takes the seed and inbreeds it again, and continues to select for desirable traits. It takes eight years of inbreeding until the plant selection is stable and is no longer segregating. Finally, two inbreds are crossed together to produce a hybrid, which is then planted as popcorn seed.

Most of the worlds popcorn is grown in the United States Corn Belt of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio. Each spring, farmers plant popcorn seeds about 11/2 inches deep and 6 inches apart in the soil. Thats nearly 28,000 seeds per acre.

As it turns out, the corn that we typically eat is different than the kernels that become popcorn. Only one variety of maize will make it – Zea mays everta. Though it looks like a typical corn kernel, this particular variety is the only one that can pop and turn into a delicious snack.

Archaeologists have discovered that people have known about popcorn for thousands of years. In Mexico, for example, they’ve found remnants of popcorn that date to around 3600 BC! Many historians even believe that popcorn is the first corn that humans knew about.

Have you ever wondered where popcorn comes from? When I was a kid, I used to think that I could dry out the corn kernels from my summertime corn-on-the-cob and use them to make popcorn. When I finally got the guts to dry out the kernels and pop them, they burned and got stuck to the bottom of the pan.

The United States is the world’s biggest producer of popcorn. It typically grows in Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska. One acre of land uses almost 30,000 seeds. Once the plant is fully mature, the corn is picked and fed through a combine, removing the cob’s kernels. These kernels are dried in a special container, optimizing the moisture level for popping. The kernel needs to maintain around a 14% moisture level to pop. This particular variety of maize quickly turns into pops into is familiar shape because of this moisture level.

There are several popular varieties of maize that are grown in the United States. However, only one of them, the Zae mays everta variety, will pop. Though this may seem limited, there are about one hundred different strains of this corn, and each of them varies according to flavor, texture, and how they pop.

How Popcorn Is Made | Regional Eats


Is popcorn just dried corn?

There are many corn varieties that can differ significantly from popcorn, which are not just dried kernels of the sweet corn we eat. Popcorn is actually a special variety of corn, and it is the only one that pops. The key to popcorn is the unique design of its kernels.

What is the inside of a popcorn kernel?

The pericarp is the tough outer shell surrounding a popcorn kernel, and the key to what makes it pop. Inside the pericarp is the germ, or seed embryo. Adjacent to the germ is the endosperm, which contains some trapped water plus soft and hard starch granules that serve as food for the germ when it sprouts.

How do popcorn kernels turn into popcorn?

As the kernel heats up, the water expands, building pressure against the hard starch surface. Eventually, this outer layer gives way, causing the popcorn to explode. As it explodes, the soft starch inside the popcorn becomes inflated and bursts, turning the kernel inside out.

Are popcorn kernels like snowflakes?

Regular popcorn and kettle corn are made from different types of corn. As a result, they differ in the flake shapes of the popped kernels. Regular popcorn comes from butterfly flakes or snowflakes, which are irregular in shape with many popping “wings” that stick out, hence the name.

What is popcorn and what is it made of?

What Is Popcorn? Popcorn (Zea Mays Everta) is one of the six types of corn, which also include dent corn, pod corn, flour corn, sweet corn, and flint corn. Popcorn is especially notorious for its ability to POP when heated.

How many carbs are in popcorn?

One cup of air-popped popcorn has 6 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of fiber, for a total of 5 grams of net carb. Plain popcorn (without butter or sugar), is low in calories and low in glycemic index, so it can be a good snack for diabetics or for someone trying to lose wight.

What is a popcorn kernel?

In conclusion, popcorn kernels are small, hard-shelled seeds that come from a special type of corn plant. When heated, the moisture inside the kernel turns to steam, causing the kernel to burst open and turn into fluffy, tasty popcorn. Popcorn has been a beloved snack food for centuries, and its popularity continues to grow today.

What is under the pericarp of a popcorn kernel?

Underneath the strong pericarp is the endosperm. The endosperm is the starchy carbohydrate on the inside of the kernel. For popcorn kernels, this endosperm has a high moisture content which generates steam and causes the popcorn to pop. Deep within the kernel is the germ, or embryo.

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