How To Dry Corn For Popcorn

The Kernel

If you enjoy gardening and snacking on popcorn, why not grow popcorn in your garden? True, any form of maize needs a lot of space to thrive. It is, however, an incredibly fascinating crop, especially if you end up harvesting and drying it yourself!

Plus, growing popcorn is a terrific way to get kids interested in gardening. We can practically hear the kernels of corn popping right now!

Corn is one of the most widely consumed vegetables, and sweet corn makes up the vast bulk of homegrown corn.  Growing popcorn can be a great late-fall delight for an adventurous gardener.

All you need are some popcorn kernels (yes, they’re seeds, too. Pretty multipurpose, am I right?) and a basic understanding of how to cultivate popcorn to get started—after that, learning how to dry the popcorn kernels for popping is the final step.

So, are you ready to give growing popcorn a try? Allow us to assist you in doing it!

But be warned; just because you grew your own popcorn doesn’t mean you’ll be able to eat it right away after the harvest. 

According to Mother Earth News, depending on the species of popcorn, curing and maturation of the corn can take anywhere from 85 to 120 days. Secondly, according to the Iowa State University Extension Office, you also need to dry the popcorn to 13 – 14 percent moisture for it to be able to pop. 

This can be accomplished artificially or naturally depending on your local climate conditions. Allow the popcorn cobs to stay on the stalk as long as possible until the kernels and husks seem dry. But if rain is expected, harvest the corn and dry it artificially.

Harvesting

Harvest and dry your corn when the tassels on the husks of the cobs begin to darken. While it is possible to let the cobs dry naturally on the plants before harvesting, this necessitates a dry autumn. 

A second problem of drying on the plant is that if mice discover the drying corn, they will destroy them – something most farmers learn the hard way! 

By cutting the cobs with a bit of extra stalk and gently removing the outer husk and tassel debris, you can easily dry them in a space safe from annoying rodents who get in your crops.

Drying

After you’ve picked your popcorn, it needs to be dried thoroughly. The drying of the corn is crucial to proper popping, and can constitute a self-control exercise since you must wait for properly dried, firm kernels before getting out the popcorn butter! 

When the cornstalk turns brown, the outer husks are entirely brown and dry, and the corn kernels are hard, you can start twisting off the ears. Here are the three drying methods we recommend:

Dehydrator 

Spread out popcorn kernels on the food dehydrator’s tray. Make sure the kernels are evenly distributed so that air may circulate between the seeds.

Allow time for the drier to warm after setting the dehydrator at 130 degrees.

Put the tray in the dehydrator and set the timer for 10 minutes to dry. Every 10 minutes, check to see if the popcorn has dried completely.

When checking for dryness, let the kernels cool somewhat. Feel the kernels with your fingertips to get a sense of how dry they are. The texture of a well-dried kernel should be leathery and slightly sticky.

When the popcorn is absolutely dry, remove it from the pan and spread it out to cool completely. To keep it fresh, place it in a well-sealed airtight container once it has cooled.

This method is one of the easiest and quickest since you don’t need to worry about temperature or manual control – all you need is attention and determination!

Air Dry

The cobs dry best when hung up since the stems of the cobs are very tough. Drill a small hole through the stem before passing through a length of wire or string through it, and then hang the cobs up in a warm, airy room – light or dark doesn’t matter!

Pulling the husks back, removing the threads, and hanging them on a line with clothespins indoors or undercover is a another way to do this. Some people have had success entirely replacing the husks with hanging mesh bags of ears.Move the bags around every few days, especially if you live in a humid area, and look for signs of mold or mildew where the ears of corn touch.

Popcorn should be dried until it reaches a moisture percentage of 13 to 14 percent, since you probably want great “pops”. Test a few kernels once or twice a week while your popcorn is drying. You can start putting them in storage once they’ve popped well.

When the kernels are completely dry, they will begin to fall from the cobs, and you will be able to rub them off with your thumb.

This method is pretty good, too, especially if you don’t have a dehydrator. But take care – because the effects of the weather and humidity are a great deciding factor in the drying process!

Oven Dry

For this method, first preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) and remove the husks from the popcorn cobs. With your thumb, push the corn kernels from each cob. Alternatively, a popcorn sheller can be used (available from farmer supply stores and via the Internet). Remove the cobs and throw them away.

Place the kernels in a single layer in a large roasting pan and bake. But when you actually put in the kernels, you must reduce the oven’s temperature to the lowest setting. After that allow five hours for the popcorn to dry. Every hour, give them a stir.

Leave the popcorn in the oven overnight after turning it off. You may either pop the kernels at once or store them for up to 30 months in an airtight jar.

Pop a couple, since you need to make sure the corn has dried perfectly. (To pop them, microwave kernels in a folded paper bag.)

Once confirmed, keep the corn in a cool, dry place in a moisture-proof, airtight plastic or glass container. Popcorn should not be stored in a warm environment or in the refrigerator since this may cause the kernels to dry up further, making the kernels useless for popcorn.

Even a three percent moisture loss can render your popcorn unpoppable. If the kernels start to dry out, add a tablespoon of water per quart of popcorn to help them pop again. Close the container and shake or mix the kernels until the moisture is absorbed. Try popping again in a few days.

Is It Necessary To Dry Corn Before Making Popcorn?

Yes, it is necessary to dry corn before making popcorn, because popcorn requires kernels to have 13 – 14 percent percentage maximum, or they won’t pop.

How Long Does It Take To Dry The Corn For Popcorn?

Since you must allow as much time as possible for corn to dry on the stalks, enabling the kernels to dry naturally on the ear or artificially with other kitchen tools, the time will vary. Natural frying can depend on the weather, ranging from one week to several weeks or more.

For artificial drying, the time is significantly less, ranging from five hours or more in the oven, or a similar time in the dehydrator.

Is It Possible To Pop Dry Corn?

Will the kernels from a regular ear of corn pop if you extract them, dry them, and then microwave them? Nope! 

Sweet corn is the kind of corn you’ll find at your local supermarket, and it won’t pop. These kernels are made to be eaten as is and do not have the capabilities of popcorn kernels.

Conclusion 

In order to pop correctly, popcorn must be thoroughly dried, or else it will merely become cooked corn and that’s not fun at all! Whether making popcorn or re-drying soggy popcorn, you need to dry the corn properly and completely. The most delectable popcorn is made from a firm, thoroughly dried kernel. 

We hope this article was useful in learning about several methods for drying corn kernels effectively!

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