Popcorn - No Pop or Too Chewy

Popcorn Quality: No Pop or Too Chewy - Solution Guide

Two Possible Scenarios

If the corn grew as intended and ears developed well but the kernel quality or volume of popped kernels is poor or low, that indicates that the moisture content of the kernels was not ideal. How the kernels pop relates directly to the moisture content within each kernel.

  • If the popped corn comes out flat or has a chewy texture, this means the kernels were too wet or had too high of a moisture content.
  • If they lack pop or have lots of unpopped kernels (Old-Maids), the kernels are too dry and do not have enough moisture.

Quality of the Popcorn

  • The popping quality depends on the moisture content within the kernels. Proper drying is one of the most challenging parts of popcorn production.
  • For optimum popping, the kernels should reach 13 to 15% moisture content, which can be difficult without state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. However, close attention to the drying process can achieve good popping performance from home-grown kernels.

Processing & Testing

  • If the kernels are too moist, allow the kernels to dry for longer. Pop a small sample every day or two during the drying process. Once they achieve the desired moisture and popping quality, store those kernels in sealed ball jars in the refrigerator to help maintain the freshness and moisture content.
  • If the kernels seem too dry and are not popping well, add a tablespoon of water to the batch in the ball jar, stirring it frequently for 2 to 3 days. Then, pop a sample to see what happens. If it gets too moist, you must allow it to dry again, spreading the kernels on a towel or screen in a warm but dark location.

Popping Temperature

  • The cooking temperature matters as well, especially for caramel or kettle corn. If the oil temperature does not reach 400°F or more, the kernels will not form the characteristic and desirable mushroom-topped shape. The kernels will still pop, but they will be regular movie theater type, known as butterfly-shaped.