What makes popcorn pops? I don’t know. I decided to research about this question, because I love popcorn and eat it all the time, but I never knew how they popped. It seems to be an amazing science experiment. In only a few minutes these small seeds become popcorn. I think it pops by heating up the seeds at a certain temperature and time. When you heat them up for too long they can burn. I am interested and looking forward into finding out why popcorns pop. There are three elements that make popcorn pop. The first is the moisture inside the kernel.
When the popcorn kernel heats up, the moisture inside it expands. Popcorn needs between 13. 5-14% moisture to pop. When the temperature is really hot it sucks up the water till the kernels are dry then they pop. When you hear a popping sound in the microwave it’s because the steam turns the kernels inside out. The second element is the starch in the kernel. It’s the strange white solid part that forms during the popping process. There are two inner layers called the pericarp. This pericarp is a circle of soft starch and inside holds a small drop of water. This water causes steam to build inside the kernel.
As it heats, the starch inside each kernel turns into a super hot goop. The third element is the outer hard shell. It is waterproof, so as the kernels heat, the pressure builds until the hard outer surface can’t hold the steam anymore. This is when the popcorn pops! As it bursts, the soft starch inside becomes 30 to 50 times its original size and the kernel turns inside out. Small short round kernels expand the most because of the harder shell. In conclusion, each kernel contains a small drop of water stored inside a circle of soft starch which produces moisture. The soft starch is surrounded by the kernel’s hard outer shell.
Moisture is very important, because if the percentage isn’t right it won’t pop. Around 212 degrees the water turns into steam and changes the starch. It continues to heat to about 347 degrees, then the pressure inside the grain will reach 135 pounds per square inch before finally bursting the hull, also called pericarp, open. As it explodes, the steam inside the kernel is released. This is what makes popcorn pop.
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