Is Popcorn Sweet Corn

Is Popcorn Sweet Corn?

Popcorn is made from corn kernels, so you can use any type of kernel to make it at home, right? Wrong! Despite the fact that there are several types of corn, only one type of corn produces popcorn, so it isn’t sweet corn. The exterior of sweet corn is relatively soft, and the kernels are usually very hard, starchy, and dry — perfect for popping! Sweet corn cannot pop because it has a relatively soft exterior, less starch, and more moisture. Make delicious popcorn by learning about the different types of popcorn kernels, how they’re made, and which is the best!

What Makes Popcorn Pop?

During times of scarcity, such as the Great Depression, popcorn was also considered an inexpensive meal.  Globally, corn kernels come in several varieties, each with different properties – but not all of them pop! A corn kernel’s structure is more important than anything else in making it pop. We need to understand how a simple and small kernel can explode into a delicious snack – this will also help explain why some kernels pop and others don’t!

Popcorn Anatomy

There are three layers in every kernel:

  1. Hulls are hard outer shells

  2. Layers of starch

  3. There is a germ layer

Layers sit over each other like Russian nesting dolls, and heat must travel from the hull to the center of the kernel to pop them. As it passes through, all the layers get affected differently.

Moisture is present at the center of every kernel.

Popcorn kernels are dried, but there will always be some moisture left in the deepest layer, which is crucial for making popcorn!

Popcorn Popping Process

There are three stages to the burst of a corn kernel:

  1. Stages of heating

  2. Stage of pressure

  3. Stage of eruption

Stage 1: Heating

The best way to make kernels pop is to heat them with a medium, such as oil or butter. Butter and oil coat the kernels evenly and allow them to heat more efficiently. The fat also creates a seal that protects them from burning. As soon as the kernels are added to the oil they begin to heat. As the heat renders the outside hull, it reaches the starch layer followed by the moisture layer. As a result, the pressure stage is reached.

Stage 2: Pressure

Due to the evaporation of water, all layers of the kernel begin to render at this stage. Because popcorn kernels are firmer, their hulls can withstand some pressure, but eventually, the intense internal forces will cause the kernel to explode.

3. Eruption Stage

When the hull cracks open, the starch pushing outward violently escapes out of the shell, creating the iconic fluffy, puffy shape. Until most of the popcorn kernels have popped, repeat this process for every kernel! After learning how a typical popcorn kernel pops, let’s explore a different kind of corn!

Sweet Corn Popcorn(?)

Sweet corn popcorn does not exist. The kernels of sweet corn don’t pop because they are different from popcorn kernels. Only one species of corn is capable of producing popcorn: Zea mays everta.

How does this explain the many shapes of popcorn?

The Zea mays everta species has many sub variations (or “strains”) that produce different shapes when popped. These strains are the result of natural mutations or genetic anomalies. Starch explodes out in different shapes according to the strain’s structural properties and proportions.

Some strains produce butterfly-shaped popcorn, while others produce flowers, mushrooms, and other attractive shapes. In summary, popcorn comes from a unique species (with many sub-variations) that is cultivated specifically for its unique characteristics.

Sweet Corn Vs Popcorn — Similarities And Differences

Describe each of their unique characteristics to explain why sweet corn does not produce popcorn!

Flavor

With its moderately sweet flavor, sweet corn goes well with a wide variety of condiments and ingredients.  In general, sweet corn kernels are more flavorful than popcorn kernels because of their fresh, earthy, starchy flavor on their own. As a result, sweet corn pairs well with both savory and earthy flavors, and when grilled over charcoal, it takes on an even deeper flavor.

This isn’t to say regular popcorn kernels aren’t flavorful! It is true that raw popcorn kernels don’t have the same buttery sweetness as their roasted counterparts, but they do have a distinct earthy flavor note. Regular popcorn kernels have a high starch content, which contributes to the flavor.

Although it has a hint of sweetness, the majority of the kernel has a nutty, earthy flavor, which makes it great for pairing with other foods. In other words, they can be paired with sweet ingredients such as caramel, or they can also be enjoyed with spicy, buttery, umami, and even herby flavors. Pair fresh popcorn with caramel peanuts if you want to be adventurous!

Texture

There is more moisture in sweet corn, as well as a paler appearance. Have you ever noticed how sweet corn melts in your mouth and has a buttery texture when it is cooked properly? Imagine making popcorn with the same soft kernel. The soft kernel’s hull will likely rupture as soon as it hits the oil. When a sweet corn kernel is popped, it will result in a half-ruptured kernel that neither looks good nor tastes good.

Popping these kernels may also result in unwanted waste, which is why sweet corn popcorn is not sold in stores. In other words, you might think that dehydrating the kernel will make things better – but that would be both right and wrong. Yes, you might think that dehydrating the kernel will make things better, but the problem is not just the exterior, but the interior as well.

Although a dehydrated sweet corn kernel will still have significant moisture inside, it won’t pop properly and is unlikely to be edible. Due to their hard exterior, regular popcorn kernels are naturally designed to pop.

The kernels of popcorn also contain some moisture when harvested, but manufacturers prepare them by superficially drying them so that they can pop properly.

Despite their different internals, both types of kernels appear identical in shape, except for their color – popcorn kernels are brighter than sweet corn kernels!

Popcorn Products

Despite decades of popping popcorn the same way, popcorn as a commercial product has undergone several flavor revolutions. In the past, popcorn was only served with butter and salt. People all over the world had been eating butter and salt for decades until caramel popcorn started popping up (we had no choice). As caramel popcorn became popular, people realized that they could pair the mild flavor of the popcorn kernels with different ingredients for a variety of flavors.

Since microwave popcorn had also begun to become a popular snack option, this revolution occurred at the perfect time. Soon, different seasonings and artificial flavors began appearing on popcorn products. Artificial flavorings have catapulted popcorn products into the spotlight!

You can even find sweet corn-flavored popcorn today – check out this brand that sells fire-roasted popcorn with a sweet corn flavor – the closest thing to sweet corn popcorn you can find! Other popcorn products can also provide even more flavor, but the one thing they all have in common is that they are made from the same type of kernel.

How To Make A Perfect Batch Of Popcorn

We’ve talked a lot about the differences between popcorn kernels and sweet corn kernels, but how do you cook them?

First, let’s try regular popcorn!

Ingredients

  • Popcorn kernels (for one bowl): 50–100 g

  • Butter, 2 to 3 tablespoons

  • Sodium

Instructions

  1. Heat the butter in a pan over low heat. Add the kernels and sprinkle salt evenly over them.

  2. Put a lid over the pot and turn up the heat immediately. Let the kernels cook undisturbed.

  3. Approximately two to three minutes after you start heating the pot, you should hear a few kernels pop.

  4. Keep the heat on until the popping slows down.

  5. Turn off the heat and leave the popcorn in the pan with the lid on for 2–3 minutes until you hear 1–2 pops every 2 seconds.

  6. To evenly distribute the seasoning, carefully empty the pot into a bowl and toss the popcorn.

  7. Add additional flavors like caramel or artificially flavored seasonings while the popcorn is still hot and fresh – this will help the flavors set evenly.

Notes

  • Since popcorn kernels expand exponentially, you may have to start with a few kernels and adjust the quantity in subsequent batches.

  • This cooking strategy may require a little practice, but it is one of the best ways to get 95–100% popped kernels without wasting any.

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How To Make A Perfect Batch Of Popcorn

You don’t need a popcorn maker to make the perfect bowl of popcorn for your next movie night!

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Ingredients

  • Popcorn kernels (for one bowl): 50–100 g

  • Butter, 2 to 3 tablespoons

  • Sodium

Instructions

  1. Heat the butter in a pan over low heat. Add the kernels and sprinkle salt evenly over them.

  2. Put a lid over the pot and turn up the heat immediately. Let the kernels cook undisturbed.

  3. Approximately two to three minutes after you start heating the pot, you should hear a few kernels pop.

  4. Keep the heat on until the popping slows down.

  5. Turn off the heat and leave the popcorn in the pan with the lid on for 2–3 minutes until you hear 1–2 pops every 2 seconds.

  6. To evenly distribute the seasoning, carefully empty the pot into a bowl and toss the popcorn.

  7. Add additional flavors like caramel or artificially flavored seasonings while the popcorn is still hot and fresh – this will help the flavors set evenly.

Notes

  • Since popcorn kernels expand exponentially, you may have to start with a few kernels and adjust the quantity in subsequent batches.

  • This cooking strategy may require a little practice, but it is one of the best ways to get 95–100% popped kernels without wasting any.

How To Make Sweet Corn

Unlike popcorn, sweet corn is almost always cooked using steam or boiling water because sweet corn kernels do not require as much energy to cook.

They are naturally soft, so you can boil them for 10 minutes and get buttery, soft, and delicious corn.

You can make sweet corn at home by following these steps:

  1. Make sure the pot is large enough to accommodate all the sweet corn – they must be fully submerged in water to cook!

  2. As the corn boils, remove the husks and set them aside. You can also remove the kernels from the cob if you wish.

  3. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, carefully place the sweet corn cobs in, then lower the heat and let them simmer (without covering them).

    • Once they have been cooked for 6–8 minutes, you can check to see if they are done as per your preference.

  4. Once the corncobs are fully cooked, remove them from the water, pat them dry with a paper towel, and serve them with your favorite seasonings.

The same method can be used to cook corn on and off the cob!

Related Questions

The difference between sweet corn and popcorn is that they come from different types of kernels, but both are equally tasty and versatile.

Are popcorn GMO?

According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration), popcorn kernels aren’t genetically modified yet. Genetic modifications have occurred over several decades and all subspecies of this type of kernel are non-GMO.

Should you add salt or sugar to water to make sweet corn?

Salt shouldn’t be added to boiling water before cooking sweet corn cobs, as it will cause them to harden and may even alter their natural flavor. Sugar can enhance the already sweet flavor of the corn and give it a deeper flavor, but this step is optional. For the best results, season the corn after it has been cooked.

Is regular popcorn more nutritious than sweet corn?

There is very little nutritional difference between both types of kernels – the only difference is how they are prepared and what they are paired with. Popcorn with a caramel topping is equally unhealthy as sweet corn paired with loads of butter. A reasonable amount of butter is the best way to enjoy sweet corn, while air-popping popcorn is the best way to enjoy it.

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