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Posted by on Jan 22, 2016 in Tell Me Why |

How Does Popcorn Grow?

How Does Popcorn Grow?

Popcorn is a special kind of corn with very small, hard kernels. Ears of the tightly-packed kernels grow on jointed cornstalks that resemble bamboo. Popcorn is a whole grain maize product. It resembles corn-on-the-cob in appearance and cultivation. Most popcorn in United States is grown in Nebraska, Iowa, and Indiana, where the summers are very hot.

When popcorn is heated, the natural moisture in the kernels turns to steam. The hard covering keeps the steam from escaping, causing pressure to build up inside the kernel. The pressure from the trapped steam finally bursts the tough shell with a popping sound. Then the white, tasty inside of the kernel puffs out.

Popcorn, like all six types of corn, is a cereal grain and originates from a wild grass. Its scientific name is Zea mays everta, and it is the only type of corn to actually pop. Popcorn is made up of three main components: endosperm, germ and the pericarp (also known as hull or bran).

The endosperm is made up of soft and hard starch granules. The endosperm is always white or yellow in color and is a carbohydrate. The function of the starch is to provide energy for the living part of the kernel, more commonly known as the “germ” or “embryo.”

The outer hull of the kernel is the pericarp, which is made of cellulose. The pericarp or hull is usually white or yellow in color, though the range of colors includes red, black and many colors in between.

Content for this question contributed by Ray Paiva, resident of Taunton, Bristol County, Massachusetts, USA