Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Mini blue popcorn


Mini blue popcorn is heaps of fun to grow.  The plants take up little room, produce cute little cobs, and the popcorn from them is fantastic.

I first grew mini blue popcorn when I was a teenager as an ornamental corn that was also fed to the chickens and things.  At that time I don't think we ever popped it, I am not sure if I had even eaten pop corn back then.  After I moved out of home no vegetables were grown and what was left of the seed disappeared over the years.

After moving here I decided to track some mini blue popcorn down again and grow it with my kids.  My littlest boy Nanuq is particularly fond of corn and likes the colour blue.  He was very excited to help me plant some blue popcorn to grow.

I started with a good number of seed, then carefully picked through it to select the best seeds both in colour and conformation to plant.  I ended up planting a decent number of seeds, being a mini corn allows it to be fit into small spaces so I was able to grow more plants in the area.
mini blue popcorn starting to form tassels, stalks are shorter on the right hand side

The plants grew well, most germinated and those that didn't (or were eaten by birds and things) were replanted with extra seeds.  Being a small variety of corn they only reached below chest height.  Completely different to the 12 foot tall Giant Inca white corn which was grown in the same vegetable garden.  Only a few of the mini blue popcorn plants were multi stemmed which is unfortunate as multi stemmed plants tend to produce more cobs.  The plants had to contend with grass and other weeds as well as QLD arrowroot and fruit tree roots, the stalks were noticeably shorter as they got closer to the tree.

Notice the brown silk forming on the cobs from the left hand plant
As the season progressed it was noticeable that almost every stalk produced several cobs.  Some produced more than others, these are the plants that were worth saving seed from as more cobs means more popcorn per plant.  Some plants only produces 2 or 3 cobs, I did not save seeds from these.

When the season was over I got Nanuq to help me collect the little cobs, it was a bunch of fun.  All of the kids helped me to remove the sheaths in a process that we call "pass the parcel" then the little cobs were hung up to dry completely.  The cobs looked great, most were well filled out and the colour was good.
mini blue popcorn cob, almost dry enough to shuck

After the cobs were dry Nanuq and I shucked the cobs.  He worked for a long time shucking quite a lot of cobs with his little hands, he asked that I payed him.  When I asked what he wanted to be payed (I meant "how much") he told me he wanted corn seeds.  That little guy sure loves his corn seeds.
mini blue popcorn cobs

When all was said and done we ended up with a decent number of cobs from multi stemmed plants or plants that produced many cobs.  We decided to pop some and see what they were like.  To make the results mean a bit more we also popped some popcorn from the shops as a comparison.
Regular popcorn on the left, mini blue popcorn on the right.  Note how white it is

The mini blue popcorn has small seeds, these seeds pop smaller than regular popcorn as can be seen in the picture above.  Regular yellow popcorn pops white, the mini blue popcorn pops extra white.  I don't know what is expected in popcorn but I like the little super white popcorn.

With the store bough popcorn between 85 - 90% of the kernels popped, my glass bead corn is almost popping that well.  Every time we have popped the mini blue popcorn 100% of the kernels have popped.  We are yet to have a single seed from the mini blue popcorn that has not popped.  Clearly this variety has been bred well and whoever owned it before me had maintained and selected it well.

The mini blue popcorn tastes just like regular popcorn but feels different in your mouth.  It feels less dense, perhaps fluffier, it is difficult to explain.  I do not particularly enjoy eating popcorn very often, I really grow it for the kids, but I do like this popcorn.  I think I dislike the density of regular popcorn and the fact that little bits get stuck between my teeth.  I find this mini blue popcorn is nicer to eat.

I do sell seeds from the mini blue popcorn, they are listed on my for sale page along with the other seeds and perennial vegetables that I have for sale.

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