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Why Popcorn Doesn't Pop Completely

As I said in the above headline, along side the many questions plaguing science, seems those unpopped kernels at the bottom of a bag of popcorn appear to be near or at the top of the list. However, some scientists claim they have found the "secret" behind those unpopped kernels, and the science "geek" in me was certainly curious.

Although the level of moisture inside a kernel of corn is important, Purdue University researchers have found the composition of its hull could be the key to whether it explodes or not. Why? Unpopped kernels have leaky hulls preventing the buildup of pressure that allows them to explode.

Scientists tested 14 different varieties of microwave popcorn, examining the hulls of popped and unpopped kernels. Surprisingly, the percentage of unpopped kernels ranged anywhere from 4 percent to as much as 47 percent in cheaper brands.

These findings will likely help corn growers narrow their sights to more popable corn, although it's expected their pursuit of such mysteries will lead them to genetically modified organisms (GMO) that do great things for their pocketbooks, of course, at the expense of your health. Such discoveries should certainly add to the coffers of growers that produce the 17 billion quarts of popcorn people eat in this country annually.

Just a quick reminder, corn is a grain, not a vegetable. As such, they can often be difficult to digest and can contain mold that can be very toxic for your body, so it's a good idea to avoid it.

However, if you can't resist indulging in the occasional bag of popcorn, and you're having problems with uncooked kernels, I discovered an interesting and safe method for limiting waste from an expert at Iowa State University.

USA Today April 25, 2005

CNN April 22, 2005