Welcome to the Secret Garden South of Bobber's Mill Bridge in Nottingham

Welcome to Windmill Community Gardens, home of the Climate Friendly Gardeners Project.

We are a group of local people, who are nurturing a wonderful community garden in the heart of the city. You'll find us just South of Bobbersmill Bridge, on the allotment site at the South end of Ascot Road. The Gardens are a great place where anyone can come to find out more about growing their own food in a changing climate. We cater for all abilities and welcome any nationality or age group.

Why not come and join us?

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Growing our own popcorn, by accident!

Popcorn isn't something we ever intended to grow at Windmill Community Gardens. What actually happened is typical for many gardeners - we thought we would try to grow "mini corn" - which is harvested as immature cobs that are taken off as soon as the tassels appear. There aren't actually any corn kernels - you are just eating the unfertilised core of the seed head. They taste nice in a stir fry or thai curry.

The popcorn makes it's first appearance at Windmill

This all seemed quite a fun thing to try when we were planning out the planting for the year, so the seeds were put in and the corn appeared. Then came a burst of hot sunny weather that stayed put, so the crops really whooshed into a harvestable state. We harvested some of the mini corn and enjoyed it, but then various folk went on holiday, we got a bit behind on the picking, and the mini-corn was suddenly too big to taste good. Once past the baby stage, it gets a woody core and starts to taste a bit weird and chewy. Fortunately when we stopped harvesting, we left quite a few ears on the plants, because we discovered that a lot of mini corn is actually popcorn.

In many ways, it makes more sense to grow popcorn than mini corn. In terms of food value and crop value, mini corn is a bit of a waste of space - a tiny crop for the area the plants take up. Popcorn on the other hand is expensive to buy popped, and whilst it is cheap enough to buy popping corn, the normal varieties are apparently chosen for their popping quality rather than their taste.

Freshly husked popcorn
So - we were quite excited when we came to harvest and discovered when we peeled back the sheath of the corn that the cobs looked beautiful - full of hard, glossy yellow kernels looking more like precious stones than something to eat. Getting them off was fun but a bit sore on the thumbs - there is a definite art to flipping the kernels into a dish and not firing them across the kitchen! 

So we had the harvest, but then it becomes either an art or a science, as you need to get the kernels to the best moisture level for popping. Not being the types to go for high-tech kit, we went the other way, harvesting the kernels when we could no longer make the cobs deform at all when we tried to twist them. After that, it was a matter of slowly drying the corn and trying small batches of the kernels until they popped reliably. This was initially a bit disappointing as the hot air "duck" popper that we have didn't pop many of the kernels, but we were delighted to find out that popping in hot coconut oil on a stove, we got quite a high % of fluffy popcorn. And the best bit was that it tasted really good!

No comments:

Post a Comment