close
Advertisement
Shop Now
Magazine

Here’s Why Popcorn Pops

This is what happens inside that bag of popcorn in your microwave.

The big bang may still befuddle us, but scientists just took a giant leap toward understanding the smaller (and arguably more important) bang that happens in your microwave. Thanks to a team of French researchers, we now have the most complete picture yet of popcorn’s seed-to-snack transition.

Inside every popcorn kernel’s shell, there’s a tiny droplet of water surrounded by a mesh of mostly starch. At 100 degrees Celcius, the water turns into steam and mixes with the starch to create a hot, doughy mass. Pressure builds in the hull until finally, at 180 degrees, it bursts.

In the next 15th of a second, a lightning-fast circus act occurs: A “leg” of fluffy starch emerges from the fractured hull, kicking it up a few centimeters in a gymnast-like spin. Water vapor bursts from the hull as it does when you uncork a champagne bottle, emitting that signature popcorn pop. The hull continues to bloom as it flips and cools, finally converting that hot vapor and starch into the popcorn fluff we know and love.

At the end of the show, each inside-out kernel is about twice as large and one eighth as dense as it was pre-pop. Whether you should cover yours in butter or olive oil is a question for another day.

See it all happen in slow-motion, courtesy of researchers Emmanuel Virot and Alexandre Ponomarenko (video via Haaretz.com):

Popcorn Birth



The Perfect Boiled Egg

The Perfect Boiled Egg

A perfect soft-boiled egg has a firm but tender white and a runny yolk, with no cracks in the shell to allow the white to seep out.

Which Pot to Cook What?

Which Pot to Cook What?

It is important for dishes that need to cook for a long time, that your pot or pan has a good-quality heavy base to distribute the heat evenly.

How to Make Fruit Butters and Pastes

How to Make Fruit Butters and Pastes

Fruit butters (or curds) and pastes are intensely flavoured spreads made with a high proportion of fruit. Fruit pastes (also known as ‘cheeses’) are slowly simmered mixtures of ripe cooked fruit pulp and sugar. Serve them with a cheese platter, accompanied by walnuts or bitter chocolate.

How to Make Homemade Stock

How to Make Homemade Stock

At the heart of every great soup is a great stock. Although shop-bought stocks are convenient, they never have as much flavour as those you make yourself. Plus, when you make your own, you know exactly what goes into it – and what doesn’t.

Chocolate

Everything You Need to Know About Chocolate

Chocolate tastes good, what else is there to say? Let’s start with the fact that we’re facing an imminent worldwide shortage.

Advertisement