POP STAR OF THE KING VALLEY
From her kitchen on the farm, Sharyn Carlesso is proving that there is a demand for her boutique King Valley Popcorn range.
THE rolling hills of Greta West combined with an innovative idea from Sharyn Carlesso has allowed the mother of two to create her own full time business from her kitchen.
She is dispelling the myth that popcorn is only for enjoyment while watching a film but instead a treat to have on the kitchen table or at a picnic with her growing King Valley Popcorn range.
A number of homemade melt-in-your-mouth flavours are available with Sharyn’s popcorn which is sold at markets in North East Victoria and by a handful of local stockists.
Eight years ago, Sharyn and husband Rob packed their bags and shifted from Melbourne to their Greta West property.
“When we would say to people that we were moving from Melbourne, they were interested in the lifestyle that we would have,” Sharyn said.
“We say to them now, this is what you can create.
“We had holidayed in the area, done weekend trips and we had always wanted to move where it was pretty.
“It is a pretty spot, the property has views of Mount Buffalo.
“We took a leap and the area has created opportunity here; we have shown we can create opportunity.”
An artist at heart, Sharyn first made popped corn to sell alongside her paintings at markets and on the first debut, it quickly sold out, much to her amazement.
Sharyn sources her corn seed from the Southern Riverina where masses of Australia’s popcorn demand is grown.
“I was curious to how it grows and if you can plant it here but can only grow one variety at a time otherwise it cross pollinates,” she said.
“Instead of focussing on growing masses of popcorn, because then I would have to be a farmer and not do what I do, I’m rejuvenating some heirloom varieties.
“I have done some research and there are tonnes of heirloom varieties that are really hard to get your hands on.
“So the seed bank that I’ve been able to grab is from every nook and cranny of Australia that I can find. “It is a pop corn variety. “Within pop corn, you’ve got your butterfly, mushroom, yellow, ruby red which are really short, really dark ruby coloured fat cobs, not your skinny cobs.
The popularity of Sharyn’s line of gourmet and gluten free flavours have inspired her to create what she says in a world first.
She is currently in the process of getting patent for her new popcorn product - popped corn flour.
Not corn kernels milled down (because that would be polenta) but popped corn milled into light and fluffy flour.
“I’d had some great feedback from it, it was just my house, my kitchen, little old me,” Sharyn said. “The feedback was insane. “It makes gluten free pasta and it doesn’t break up, it’s like normal, wheat pasta.
“It cooks and behaves like normal, wheat flour but it will provide another gluten-free flour option.”
King Valley Popcorn surpassed its first year birthday in business in January and Sharyn says it is just the beginning of what was an unexpected venture.
“Every weekend we are out at markets and when we’re not at markets, we’re popping corn to keep up with demand,” she said.
“I’ll have people come past (at markets) and say ‘Oh, I don’t like popcorn’ because they’re referring to what you can buy at the movies.
“People’s knowledge of popcorn is of artificially flavoured popcorn.
“When I started doing it, integrity of food is important to me, I did want to air pop it, I didn’t want to do it any other way because why add when you don’t need to add.”
Visit www.kingvalleypopcorn.com.au or search ‘King Valley Popcorn’ on Facebook.
CREATIVE FLAIR / King Valley Popcorn is Sharyn Carlesso’s unique business run from her Greta West property. Popping corn is a full time commitment for Sharyn as her range of gourmet, gluten free popcorn is in high demand.
BURSTS OF FLAVOUR / Sharyn Carlesso is working on a popped corn flour and has succesfully produced tasty baked treats ( pictured) from flour milled at her home.