Popcorn is one of the most popular popcorn snacks. Popcorn kernels are often popped in a popcorn maker or microwaved, and then eaten as-is or with salt and butter. But what about popcorn kernels that don’t pop? Why does this happen, and how can we prevent it? If you’re looking for popcorn answers, keep reading!
It actually comes down to one simple reason: water.
Popcorn is popcorn because of the moisture content. The popcorn needs to be about 14% water in order to pop, but some kernels can contain as little as 12%.
When a kernel doesn’t pop it means that there wasn’t enough water for the popcorn’s starch and protein coatings to expand during popping. Water-soaked popcorn becomes too moist which can also prevent the kernal from popping.
As well as the water content within your kernals the hull can also have an effect on whether your popcorn kernal will actually pop. The hull of a popcorn kernel is the crispy outside layer that encases what’s inside.
When heated, it turns into an airtight seal to help contain any water escaping from within (unless there are leaks). At 212 degrees Fahrenheit, water trapped in kernels boils and becomes steam which pushes against the tightened outer shell; as soon as pressure reaches 347 degrees F – POP!
So that’s basically it. In order for popcorn to pop, there needs to be enough water available in a kernel’s starch and protein coatings – without it, they simply won’t expand during popping.