Pop­pin’ Healthy, Tasty Snacks

Riverbank News - - 209 LIVING -

Amer­i­cans con­sume some 13 bil­lion quarts an­nu­ally of pop­corn, a whole grain, good-for-you treat. That’s 42 quarts per man, woman, and child.

Pop­corn is a type of maize (or corn), a mem­ber of the grass fam­ily, and is sci­en­tif­i­cally known as Zea mays ev­erta. Pop­corn dif­fers from other types of maize/corn in that it has a thicker peri­carp/ hull. The hull al­lows pres­sure from the heated wa­ter to build and even­tu­ally bursts open. The in­side starch be­comes gelati­nous while be­ing heated; when the hull bursts, the gela­tinized starch spills out and cools, giv­ing it its fa­mil­iar pop­corn shape.

Com­pared to most snack foods, pop­corn is low in calo­ries. Air-popped pop­corn has only 30 calo­ries per cup. Oilpopped is only 35 per cup.

Pop­corn is a whole grain. It is made up of three compo- nents: the germ, en­dosperm, and peri­carp, also known as the hull.

Most U.S. pop­corn is grown in the Mid­west, pri­mar­ily in In­di­ana, Ne­braska, Ohio, Illi­nois, Iowa, Ken­tucky and Mis­souri.

Many peo­ple be­lieve the acres of corn they see in the Mid­west dur­ing grow­ing sea­son could be picked and eaten for din­ner, or dried and popped. In fact, those acres are typ­i­cally field corn, which is used largely for live­stock feed, and dif­fers from both sweet corn and pop­corn.

Pop­ping pop­corn is one of the num­ber one uses for mi­crowave ovens. Most mi­crowave ovens have a “pop­corn” con­trol but­ton. Two ta­ble­spoons of ker­nels make one quart popped pop­corn. “Popa­bil­ity” is pop­corn lingo that refers to the per­cent­age of ker­nels that pop.

There is no such thing as “hull-less” pop­corn. All pop­corn needs a hull in or­der to pop. Some va­ri­eties of pop­corn have been bred so the hull shat­ters upon pop­ping, mak­ing it ap­pear to be hul­l­less.

Most pop­corn comes in two ba­sic shapes when it’s popped: snowflake and mush­room. Snowflake is used in movie the­aters and ball­parks be­cause it looks and pops big­ger. Mush­room is used for candy con­fec­tions be­cause it doesn’t crum­ble.

The world’s largest pop­corn ball, ac­cord­ing to Guin­ness World Records, was cre­ated in 2013 at the In­di­ana State Fair. The pop­corn ball weighed in at 6,510 pounds and was eight feet in di­am­e­ter.

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