Can you cook popcorn in the oven?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “Can you cook popcorn in an oven?” with an in-depth analysis of how we can make popcorn in an oven. Moreover, we will also discuss how making popcorn in an oven can affect the nutritional value and texture of the popcorn. Along with it we will also try to answer whether it is conventional to cook popcorn in an oven or not?

Can you cook popcorn in the oven?

Yes, we can cook popcorn in an oven. But it is not a conventional method to cook popcorn in an oven because this method exhibits more cons than pros of making popcorn.

To answer the question, can we cook popcorn in an oven? We have to first take a look at the structure of the popcorn kernel, how it cooks and how this tiny kernel transforms into voluminous popcorn?

Structure of popcorn kernel:

Popcorns are corn kernels. These are harvested in winters so that the product contains optimum qualities for producing tasty and healthy products. These kernels possess a strong outside shield in which moisture and starch are encapsulated. This moisture is the water content of the kernel and is essential in popping. 

Moisture within the popcorn kernel:

Popcorn kernels contain at least 10 to 20% water. Upon heating, this water turns into steam and melts the starch that is present along with it in the kernel. If the moisture content of the kernel is low, it dries out easily and also the kernel remains small in size. It is suggested that 14% water content is most suitable for popping corn kernels into good popcorn. This percentage of moisture is appropriate for melting down all the fellow starch to liquid.

Starch content within the popcorn kernel:

Starch that is present inside the popcorn kernel turns into a liquid when the heat turns water to steam. This steam builds up pressure within the shell of the popcorn kernel. As the inside pressure exceeds the threshold capacity of the kernel, it ruptures. As soon as the kernel ruptures, the liquid starch pours out. When it gets cooled down it takes the solid shape and becomes that white soft portion of the popcorn.

What gives popcorn its voluminous size?

The starch content of the popcorn which erupts from the inside of the popcorn shell, after becoming a liquid, turns into a white cloudy structure after cooling down. This structure of popped popcorn is 40-70% of the size of the original popcorn kernel.

How are popcorns conventionally cooked?

Popcorns are cooked best when they are wrapped in a layer of oil or butter. Oil or butter is a better conductor of heat than air. So when oil is put in the container in which popcorns are cooked, it covers them completely. 

Try to pour an appropriate amount of oil into the container that can easily cover all the cooking popcorn. When the layer of oil gets heated, it transmits heat energy evenly to all parts of the popcorn kernel. As a result, fluffy, fully cooked popcorn is ready.

So after batting an eye on the above information, we can now answer the question “can we cook popcorn in the oven?”

The heating process of the oven and its relation to the cooking of popcorns:

In an oven, direct heat is applied to the food being cooked. The temperature within the oven is quite high. It cooks food by generating dry heat in the form of dry air. 

If you pour oil into the cooking container, then put it in the oven, you are unable to stir it regularly because of the high temperature. As a result, oil does not spread evenly to all the popcorn kernels. Air alone is not a good conductor of heat. When hot air comes in contact with the oil layer above kernels, it transfers the heat evenly to all portions of the kernel via an oil in which they are immersed. So using oil is a must when making popcorn in an oven.

If the quantity of oil is less or the number of popcorn kernels is more, as if stacked in layers than oil present in the container, all kernels would not receive balanced equal oil coating. The portions without oil will get dry or burn out. 

Similarly, if the temperature of the oven is kept high, it will aggressively heat the oil coating which will eventually burn the popcorn.

Because of too much uncertainty of the process and a higher ratio of not getting the desired product, it is not advisable to cook popcorn in an oven. Although this does not restrict someone from doing so.

You can read how to make caramel popcorn here.

Conclusion:

In this brief guide, we answered the question “Can you cook popcorn in an oven?” with an in-depth analysis of how can we make popcorn in an oven. Moreover, we also discussed how making popcorn in an oven can affect the nutritional value and texture of the popcorn. Along with it we also tried to answer whether is it conventional to cook popcorn in an oven or not?

Citations:

https://www.livestrong.com/article/463340-can-you-cook-popcorn-in-the-oven/

https://www.leaf.tv/articles/how-to-pop-popcorn-in-the-oven/

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Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.