Saturday, 19 October 2013

Strawberry Popcorn - A load of poppycock??

What's inside?

If you remember, earlier this year I planted some sweetcorn plants in the polytunnel. The result was that they grew, and grew, and grew, until they reached the sky. Well, the roof of the polytunnel anyway.
The reason I was growing this sweetdorn in the polytunnel was that I didn't want it cross-pollinating with my supersweet F1 variety which I grow outdoors.

This particularly corn crop was grown for an entirely different purpose - to make us self-sufficient in popcorn! Yes, that's right. Popcorn!
Not only that, but it looks very pretty when harvested too.

Well, how's your maths?
Take 200 seeds. Lose half through non-germination - too cold early in the year. Lose another third which just don't take very well. A quarter fall victim to climbing mice, which have come in after the fields were harvested and eaten the cobs before they had a chance to dry on the plant. About 15% of those saved and placed safely to dry on the crop bars of the polytunnel, also get munched by mice which scale the tomato plants to reach them. (Luckily I noticed a little pile of husks on the floor before it was too late).
The mice got to this one first.

How are you doing so far? I'm down to about 43.  But each plant had a couple of cobs or more, so I was still quite excited when I went to peel back the papery coverings today.

The first couple looked very good indeed. Like giant raspberries, each kernel a delicious deep red colour.

But the maths goes on.
For many of them don't seem to have developed. I guess that they didn't get pollinated properly.

In the end, my total harvest amounted to this...

Still, it looks pretty, doesn't take up too much polytunnel space, and I can only do better next year, can't I! Lessons have been learned.

Despite, or inspite of, the trail of losses, I just couldn't wait to try one though.

I checked back to the website where I purchased them from and, as I thought, it said to simply pop the whole cob into the microwave to enjoy gorgeous, fluffy popcorn with a hint of a strawberry flavour.
Being one to think ahead, I had this vision of a microwave splattered with popcorn shooting everywhere, so I placed one small cob into a plastic bowl and put a plate on top to keep it from escaping. It was only 30 seconds before I could hear that tell-tale popping sound and the smell of popcorn started to waft into the air. I had a peek and, although some kernels had split, there was no explosive fluffing up yet. So I put the lot back in, this time risking taking the lid off. I left it a while, but the microwave filled with smoke and the smell wafting through the air was now one of a distinct burning nature.

But the cob just looked like this...

All I can think is that the cobs need more time to dry out.

But, to be honest, how much more can a man take?

Not every crop has to be totally functional. I value beauty in the veg garden too and a couple of novelty crops each year never go amiss. Sometimes they give a very pleasant surprise, but often I discover just why they've not entered the mainstream of growing  in the UK yet.

I'll try microwaving another cob in a couple of weeks, but it'll have to do something pretty spectacular to earn its place on next year's growing list.

At least I have some interesting table decorations for Christmas though.

1 comment:

  1. I'm planning some this year so I hope mine does a bit better!


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