Thursday, July 16, 2009

Peruvian popcorn

In the summer of 2005, I went to visit my sister and her family, who were living in Peru. While I was there I got some seeds. Last summer I grew out the corn seeds, but the results were mostly disappointing: the stalks got really tall, but they didn't make good ears.

The exception was a small yellow corn seed that did pretty well. I saved those ears and dried them over the winter by braiding the shucks together and hanging them in the kitchen. They looked very pretty there. The seeds looked like popcorn, so last winter I tried to pop some of them, but not many of them popped and the rest of the kernels just burned, so I thought it probably wasn't popcorn after all.

This afternoon I rubbed those same corn seeds off the cobs. I was going to dry them a little more in the oven and then grind them for cornmeal, but I decided to try popping them again first. I had read that for popcorn to pop, it has to be dried to exactly the right moisture level: 13.5% is optimal. I had no way of knowing if my corn was at that moisture level. But I guess a few more months of drying did the trick, because it popped perfectly. Almost every kernel popped!

Popcorn is flint corn, which usually doesn't grow as well as dent corn in the Southeast. But I will definitely save some of these seeds to grow again.

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