Slow Motion Popcorn Popping Is Hypnotic
Popcorn is delicious and provided you don't slather it in faux butter, it's reasonably healthy for you too. But have you ever wondered what popcorn looks like when it actually pops? Have you never been dumb enough to open a pot coated in boiling oil and look for yourself? Do you ever wish there were two dumb British blokes with a very expensive camera willing to getting burning oil all over themselves in the pursuit of hits on Youtube? Is it Monday morning and you'd rather be doing anything besides whatever it is you should be doing right now?
Well then you're in luck, because they made that video.
The science of popcorn is fairly interesting. If you stop to think about it, why do corn kernels pop but a steak does not? Can you pop other things besides corn?
The reason popcorn pops comes down to two basic properties of popcorn: 1. The inside of popcorn has a small amount of oil and moisture. 2. The outside of popcorn is made of cellulose which is pretty solid stuff.
The cellulose outer skin of the popcorn is strong enough to hold all of the moisture inside the kernel as it heats up and turns into steam. Up to a point that is. Once enough steam has built up the cellulose rips apart and pop goes the popcorn. The really interesting bit is that the process of superheating the inside of the kernel rearranges all the carbohydrates inside and that's why popcorn turns into corn foam rather than bursting into flames or cracking apart.
As anyone who has wolfed down a bowl of Rice Krispies knows, you can pop other grains as well. However, these grains typically don't have exteriors as hard as corn so cooks have to put them under pressure and add extra steam. As the rice superheats they suddenly release the pressure, just as the cracking of a corn kernel would, and the rice turns itself inside out into delicious puffed rice.
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