Corn has been a popular food for many years. It is estimated that it was first domesticated (grown as a food source) around 9000 years ago. Corn grows on stalks, often planted in rows in a field. The height of the stalks generally grow to 6 to 8 feet tall, but vary in size from 2-3 feet to 14 -16 feet. The record height grown in New York State was 34 feet in 2010!
There are many varieties of corn, but in general there are four types.
Sweet Corn– picked in the immature milk stage. It has more sugar than other corn. It is often eaten on the cob, canned or frozen.
10% sugar. Almost 50 % of the sugar can be converted to starch in 24 hours after being picked- so best to eat it fresh!
Fun Fact: Did you know there is always an even number of rows on a cob!
Dent Corn (Field Corn) –
Recognized by a dimple on top of the kernel as it dries out. It is higher in starch than sweet corn- 4%.
Used for animal feed, corn syrup, bio-fuel, plastics.
Flint Corn (Indian Corn) –
Range of Colors. Uses like Field corn
Flour Corn –
Soft Starch filled kernel. Easy to grind. Often white but can be grown in other colors such as blue. Chief type of corn grown by the Native Americans.
POPCORN is a type of Flint Corn
Popcorn has a thicker pericarp/hull which allows pressure from heating to build. The starch inside becomes gelatinous and eventually bursts through spilling out and quickly cooling.
The kernel contains approximately 14 % moisture which is ideal for popping. Kept in a tightly sealed jar, it should stay good for years.
Check out this link: Slow Motion of Popcorn Popping
There are two shapes of Popcorn.
Snowflake used in movie theaters.
Mushroom for confections -it doesn’t crumble.
Fun history facts about Popcorn:
The oldest known popcorn kernel, estimated as 1000 years old, was found in a cave inhabited by the Pueblo Indians in Utah. The Aztecs used popcorn for clothing decoration and in ceremonies. Funeral urns in Mexico from 300 AD have been found honoring the Maize God with popped kernels adorning a headdress.
French explorers found the Iroqois Indians in the Great Lakes Region popping corn kernels in pottery jars filled with heated sand.
It was in the 1890’s that the first popcorn popping machine was invented by a Chicago entrepreneur Charles Cretors. It was steam powered for nut roasting and popcorn popping.
Popcorn was a cheap treat in the Great Depression. It became popular as a treat especially in movie theaters.
In World War II, sugar became more scarce as much of it was shipped to the troops overseas. During this time more popcorn was consumed.
Popcorn has also been used in decoration, popular confections such as popcorn balls and as gifts.
For more information on Popcorn consider visiting a museum such as the Wyandot Popcorn Museum in Marion, Ohio.
You might also want to visit the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota.