Where you store your popcorn has a direct influence on how many “old maids” you have, that antiquated term for the unpopped kernels left at the bottom of your popcorn bowl. Whatever you call these hard nuggets, popcorn lovers mourn the lost opportunity to eat them. Prepare for your best popcorn-eating experience by storing your kernels properly. That is, not in your freezer.
Each kernel is made up of starch and moisture. According to Popcorn County, the ideal kernel contains 13 percent moisture. When the kernel heats up, the moisture turns to steam, expanding until it explodes into a big fluffy piece of popcorn. However, storing popcorn in a refrigerator or freezer lowers your moisture percentage, resulting in more kernels failing to attain their popped potential.
If you’re skeptical, you can try this experiment from Education.com at home with either microwave or regular popcorn. Place one bag each in your refrigerator, freezer and cupboard and leave them there overnight. Then take the bag from your freezer, labeling the bag “freezer.” Pop according to directions, then allow it to cool. Do the same with the bag you stored in your refrigerator and the one in your cupboard. Once the popcorn has cooled, count the unpopped kernels from each group. You will probably find that the bags stored in the freezer performed the worst. If so, imagine the cumulative result of being stored in the freezer for weeks or months before popping.
So, the fridge and freezer are out. That leaves the cupboard. But make sure your cupboard is dry. Humid basements or garages will not keep your popcorn performing at its best. A container with a tightly fitting lid will help keep moths out. If you keep your popcorn dry and at a temperature below 90 degrees Fahrenheit, it should last about 18 months.
If your popcorn is getting a bit old and not popping like it used to, try sprinkling the kernels with a little water and leaving them in an airtight container for a day or so before popping. This can return lost moisture to the kernels. If you use too much oil when popping, that can also affect how your popcorn turns out.
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