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How Do I Choose the Best Popcorn Kernels?

Fresher popcorn pops easily and quickly.
Salt, which is often used to top popcorn.
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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 29 October 2014
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A mouthful of fluffy, crisp popcorn is often the ultimate result of choosing the best popcorn kernels available. Choosing great popcorn kernels can involve a little research, and even a few taste tests. When choosing popcorn, look for kernels that are as fresh as possible, and those that can be stored in a way that will help preserve freshness longer. Additionally, consider trying to find hull-less varieties that can be easier on the teeth. Finally, try out an artisan popcorn company to enjoy the many different varieties of popcorn kernels.

How fresh a popcorn kernel is can determine how it well it will cook. Fresh kernels pop quickly and evenly, and will not leave a heap of uncooked kernels at the bottom of the pan or popper. Fresh kernels also tend to have a crisp texture, and are never tough or chewy. Many popcorn kernel bags will state their pack date and sell-by date, which can help determine freshness.

The manner in which popcorn is stored can also have a significant impact on freshness. Kernels that are stored in bags and boxes may be difficult to seal correctly, and allow more oxygen to mix with the popcorn. As the oxygen mixes with the popcorn kernels, they will quickly turn stale, rendering them difficult to pop and unpleasant to eat. Look for popcorn stored in glass or plastic jars with a resealable lid, since the tightly-closed lid will keep kernels fresh longer.

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One irritating feature of many popcorn kernels is the production of small, shell-like pieces known as hulls. Made from the husk of the kernel, hulls can easily get stuck between teeth, or may even be sharp enough to cut the gums. While hulls cannot fully be eliminated from popcorn, some gourmet varieties have been bred to reduce the hulls, or make them less formidable. Hull-less popcorn may be a great choice for anyone with sensitive teeth or gums.

Artisan popcorn is an excellent choice for popcorn lovers who wish to rise above the basic store-bought brands. Just as coffee beans may differ in flavor, color, and aroma, so, too, can popcorn kernels present a rainbow of options for the discerning palate. Artisan popcorn can feature blue, red, yellow, and orange kernels, each with a different flavor profile. Some varieties may have a rich, deep flavor and strong crunch, while others may be fluffy and lightly flavored. Ordering a variety pack of different popcorn kernels from an artisan popcorn company can be a great way to find a new favorite.

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