The Science of Popcorn

October 17, 2018

We all love popcorn, whether it’s in a tub at the cinema or in a bag at home in front of the TV. Or maybe you made it yourself, fresh out of the frying pan?

However you like your favourite snack it is easy to take for granted quite what a miracle of science your popcorn actually is. It is in fact a convenient combination of plant biology, heat, steam and explosive energy.

What is Popcorn?

The raw corn kernel itself is in fact a little seed germ, surrounded by a mush of carbohydrates, proteins and other nutrients, all packed into a waterproof and air tight shell.
This tough outer wall is designed to stop an assault by animals, attacking it with tooth and claw – the food inside is intended for the corn germ, not foraging wildlife or hungry humans.

But sadly for the little corn germ, we humans have found an ingenious way to enjoy these starchy ingredients for ourselves. We can do this because there is one further vital ingredient which any viable kernel must contain: water. Over 10 percent of the content of the raw corn kernel consists of it.

What Makes Popcorn Pop?

Unfortunately for the corn plant, this water is its Achilles heel, because when the corn is heated with a little oil, the water inside starts to heat up and as it does so, it turns to steam. This is a big problem for the kernel, because steam expands rapidly: it occupies over a thousand times the volume that liquid water does. And with that tough, watertight and airtight wall to keep it in check, there is nowhere for all that extra volume and pressure to go.

Something has to give, and as we all know, this is what puts the POP! into popcorn. All that steam pressure continues to build until the tough outer coating can withstand it no longer. The cell wall then ruptures in an explosion of starch. The creamy goo which had been trapped inside its tough protective shell expands explosively into a tasty fluffy foam, effectively turning the kernel inside out.

All you then have to do is wait for it to cool down a little. You can then enjoy your popcorn either slightly warm or leave it for a while until it is fully cooled.

What Makes Our Popcorn Different?

Here at RetroCorn, we only use the very best ingredients, including the tastiest and most nutritious kernels. This means that our popcorn is always tender and with that perfect crunchy texture. We also only use quality olive and rapeseed oils to supply the heat when popping our raw corn.

Finally, we add our own unique and truly mouth-watering flavours. All these are made with real crushed candy, for that vintage, nostalgic flavour of sweets from times gone by. There is no artificial chemical trickery. In fact there are no artificial ingredients at all in RetroCorn – no additives, no preservatives: even the colours are natural.

So whether your favourite is Strawberries and Cream, Rhubarb and Custard, zingy Lemon and Lime Sherbet or any of our other tasty creations, you know you’re getting nothing but the best with RetroCorn.