Garden Update: Strawberry Popcorn

I went out to the garden this weekend and picked my first to ears of corn from the popcorn variety I planted back in June. This corn is a much smaller variety than sweet corn, so I have been waiting for the right time to harvest some and see how it turns out. After researching the best time to harvest popcorn, I discovered that you should let it dry as much a possible on the stalk and at least wait until the ear dries out and looses most of its green leaves.

Shelling Popcorn Kernels

I had picked one ear last week that looked like this and left it on the kitchen counter to dry out some more before I attempted to shell the kernels. I guess I was expecting that the corn kernels would be soft like sweet corn. However, popcorn varieties are often hard enough to survive a vigorous shelling even at this state. When I finally did shell the ear that I left out to dry, I found it was actually quite difficult to do so.

Here's a photo of a dried out ear - looks ready to pick
Here’s a photo of a dried out ear; looks ready to pick!

I picked another ear a short time later and tried to shell the kernels right away. It was much easier, even though they’re not as dry. Based on this experiment, I’m planning to shell my popcorn shortly after harvesting the ears, in hopes that it’s easier to do by hand. The ears are small enough that I don’t think any tools or shelling devices would be that helpful anyway.

My first ear of popcorn, partially shelled into a small bowl
My first ear of popcorn; partially shelled into a small bowl

Does It Pop?

So far, I haven’t tried popping any of the corn, but I’m hoping to give it time to dry and then I’ll start with really small batches to try and get the corn to the right moisture level. Even if it simply makes for a fun activity one evening, it will be worthwhile. I’ll report back once we’ve tried. All told, this has definitely been an easy plant to grow, it has resulted in a fun activity with the kids, and the “strawberry” variety looks amazing for decorations.

Partially husked ear of strawberry popcorn