Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dealing with the Popcorn Harvest

The tiny little ears of the Tom Thumb dwarf popcorn I grew sat around in an open basket for a couple months after I harvested them. Some of them may have been harvested a little early in my eagerness. The ones I harvested late seemed to have slightly larger and plumper kernels than the first ears I picked. Shucking the ears wasn't so taxing, but getting the kernels off the fully dried cobs was a little rough on the hands.

And then to winnow away the chaff. I discovered something interesting during the winnowing process. I started with a shallow sided, tightly woven basket. That didn't work so well, because hard dried popcorn bounces like mad. So when I agitated the kernels, it bounced right off the basket and onto the ground. I quickly traded up for a large, round, straight-sided food storage container. It's a wide, squat cylinder, with sides about 4" high - too high for the kernels to bounce over if handled gently. After only a few swirls of the kernels in this container, I discovered that the build up of static electricity was causing the papery bits of cob and the dried out corn tassels to cling to the inner walls of the container. It was easy to sweep these out of the container with my hands. The more I shook the kernels around, the more static electricity built up. Some of the tiny, undeveloped kernels were light enough to also stick to the plastic sides. This made the winnowing process fast and easy. I was delighted with my discovery!

The popcorn we grew was a dwarf variety (full jar on the right), so it was no surprise that the kernels were significantly smaller than the store bought variety (jar on the left). What struck me though was how much deeper was the color of my homegrown popcorn. The store bought stuff, although organic, just looked pale and washed out compared to my deep yellow-orange homegrown popcorn. I'm guessing that this means our popcorn is higher in beta carotene than the store bought. It popped up very well too, though the smaller popcorn flakes made a much smaller bowl than we're used to. It tasted great.

I started the season with exactly 42 kernels of popcorn to plant. After germination, those were thinned to 15 plants. And those 15 plants gave us four cups or 2 pounds of popcorn. I can really see the benefit of keeping good planting and harvest records of the garden. It's so satisfying to have these numbers. More satisfying still to eat a bowl of popcorn we grew ourselves, topped with garlic butter made with our homegrown garlic!

In other news, I love autumn!

1 comment:

Jeri said...

We need to try something different in the garden next year. Popcorn sounds like a good one.