Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Popcorn



You might remember that way back last winter, as I was poring through seed catalogues in search of inspiration for my 2012 garden, I struck on pink popcorn as a way to inject a little whimsy into what was starting to feel like a ho-hum routine of planning my plantings for the year.

I didn't devote much space to my first ever corn plants, just a sunny, hot and protected spot where they would have the best possible chance at accumulating the heat units they would need to produce ears. I think I had about two dozen plants in all, most of which produced at least one ear. But the thing with popcorn is that it needs to dry on the plant, which poses a challenge on the West Coast where "fall" means "rain". Some of those ears began to grow mold before they had a chance to properly dry, which meant I ended up with about a dozen adorable little pink ears of popcorn.

I must have been waiting for the stars and moon to align in a certain way, because I didn't get around to trying it until tonight. After Googling instructions for popping corn still on the cob, I put the entire cob (minus its leaves) in a paper bag in the microwave.

Which just goes to show you shouldn't believe everything you read on the internet, because this is what happened.


Smoke was pouring out of the bag like nobody's business, but fortunately I got the whole mess out onto the verandah before the smoke detectors went off. The popcorn was so smoky it was inedible. At least there were no flames...


For my second attempt I decided to go with my head rather than Google, and I stripped the kernels off the cob first. The cobs are small, so I ended up with only a couple of tablespoons of kernels, but didn't they pop up beautifully! Startlingly white, fluffy and - miracles - actually tasting of corn.


As a food-growing experiment I judge it a success. Not a practical one - each corn plant took up a fair bit of space, and to end up with a (very) small bowl of popcorn for every two plants isn't a good yield. But it was a fun project, it kept me interested in my garden through my bout of fourth-year-blues, and it has inspired me to try growing some regular corn next year. That's good enough for me.

8 comments:

Alison said...

We grew corn every year when I was growing up--but that was in Ohio, so it's almost required. :) We did grow popcorn one year, but I was too young to be aware of the relative success of that crop.

I planted corn my first year here in NC, but quickly realized that for a small backyard plot, it's a huge investment of space and water for the return. But...I might try again this year. Ask Miss Chef, I go nuts for fresh corn on the cob!!

Shim Farm said...

I second Alison - there is nothing better in life than corn on the cob.

I like your popcorn experiment - I'd judge it a success too! Just not the microwave-the-whole-cob part LOL! It's amazing how we let the internet override our judgement sometimes!

I think next year is a corn year on our farm. Maybe I'll chuck a few popcorn seeds out into the field and see what happens.

Stephanie said...

I am wondering why it is not pink like the niblets on the ear of corn.

Miriam said...

Well that's a good question! You can see a little bit of pink in the last photo, in the part of the kernel that was originally on the outside and after popping has been turned inside out (if you follow me!). But the flesh of the kernel is really, really white. Or I should say "was" because those popped kernels are long gone!

Kris said...

What pretty pink corn. I love that. You should save some of the seeds for next year and try again. What kind is that? I might try to grow some too.

And there is nothing worse than burnt popcorn! Well, maybe a stinky buck. Both are horrid smells. But my husband always wants me to burn his popcorn for him. I have to leave the house for awhile after. And the smell stays around a long time too.

Donna OShaughnessy said...

No real loss as in my opinion the best popcorn is made in a heavy pot with coconut oil and lots of real butter! Wish you lived closer I sell local farmers products in my tiny farm store and would love some real popcorn

Lindsey at NW Backyard Veggies said...

Seriously?

That's the shit. I totally want to do that. I eat home made popcorn almost every night popped in oil in the skillet. It's like my obsession. Pink just makes it that much better.

Right on!

Mary Klassen said...

yes "startling white" is the best way to describe the beauty of home grown popcorn, I tried it once too and had the same experience as you. It was a thrill to eat my own popcorn.

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