Sunday, 27 April 2014

POPCORN!


Last year I grew Strawberry Red Popcorn. I grew it in the polytunnel, so that it wouldn't cross with my supersweet corn outside. It went rampant in there, but come autumn the field mice abandoned the surrounding crops and moved in. Only the lucky few cobs survived the onslaught.
 
But they were very good looking.
 


There was, however, one very BIG disappointment.
They didn't pop! I tried everything - Microwave, saucepan, whole, kernels stripped from the cob, oil, butter.... But not a pop.
I wrote a blog post. Something about Poppycock, I seem to recall.
In fact, it's here if you want to look.

Fast forward six months and April's gathering of the Fenland Smallholders Veg Group. I had asked people to talk about one unusual veg they had grown and I was trying to decide what I would talk about when I remembered the popcorn kernels which we had kept in brown paper bags in the kitchen.

I popped one in the microwave, literally... it POPPED! Not perfectly, but it most definitely popped.

After some experimentation, I found that the kernels were now easy to strip from the cob and the best way to pop them was in a hot saucepan with a little oil.

 
It went down very well at the Veg Group, especially the one tossed in our very own honey which Sue collected just a couple of days before.
 
So, having almost given up on this novelty crop, it had suddenly turned into a success story. I checked back on the website from which I purchased it and it was not a F1 hybrid. So I stripped the kernels off a cob and set them to chit. This is a method I have adopted for germinating sweetcorn, since I can't reliably sow it direct in the ground (mice and voles) and it has a tendency to just rot when sown in modules - probably my fault, but a common problem.
Normal sweetcorn set to chit.
I sandwich the kernels between sheets of damp
kitchen roll, cover with a propagator lid and place
 in the warmth of the polytunnel to sprout.
I then drop them into modules to grow,
as it's too early for them to go outside yet and they need
a long enough growing season to ripen properly.

After a couple of days just about every seed had sprouted.
The long white sprout is actually the root.
You can just see the green stem started to grow on some of these.
I reckon that each small cob must have about 300 kernels on. That's about £7 worth of seed. If only I could sell them all for that.

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