How long do popcorn kernels last? Popcorn kernels are one of the various corn kernels which have the capability to expand and puff when heated.
Popcorn kernels are different from normal corns that are harvested, cooked, or roasted.
The hull of the kernel contains a starchy shell with about 14 to 20% of moisture which steams as heat is applied to the kernel.
The steam causes the kernel to expand and become popped.
There are different types of popcorn kernels – yellow, white, red, and blue. Each color type gives its distinct taste and flavor.
So, how long do popcorn kernels last?
Plain popcorn kernels will last 6 months to 1 year and microwaved popcorn kernels will last 8 months and can stay 3 months past the expiration date.
Plain popcorn kernels will last longer than microwaved variety
This is because plain popcorn kernels are naturally dried until they are tested good enough to pop.
They have no additional flavors in them, you will be the one, as the chef,
Add your desired flavors in quantities that please you as you cook or pop.
While instant microwave popcorn kernels have a short life because flavors, butter, oil, and sugar have been added
And these don’t have a good taste or smell when kept over time.
It is best if you use instant microwave within the estimated date on packages, although it can stay 1 to 2 months beyond
If they are not properly stored,
They will lose their moisture and won’t pop well,
Or they will pick up more moisture from the environment and end up soggy and moldy.
Do Popcorn Kernels Expire?
Yes, over time they will expire, so try to pop and eat popcorn kernels within 6 months to 1 year.
Signs of expiration can be uneven and less fluffy texture.
Expired popcorn kernels especially microwave ones, can get rancid over time and apart from causing health problems,
They will be unappealing to the taste buds unlike how fresh popcorns ought to be.
In as much as dry plain popcorn kernels have an almost – indefinite shell life,
They will not taste, 10 years later, the same way they tasted when fresh.
Expired packaged ones which are past the written dates, do not really mean they are bad.
Especially when properly stored in a cool, dry, dark place, or in an airtight container.
It will still be safe enough to eat a few months past the date.
Ensure popcorn kernels are always protected from air and moisture
This is because air makes it stale and dry, moisture reduces the shell life of kernels.
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How Long Do Popcorn Kernels Last After Expiration Date?
Most times, this question is answerably depends on the packaging and how it is stored.
Popcorn kernels can keep the inner moisture that enables them to steam properly for 6 to 12 months, so most packages have expiration dates 8 months after the production dates, to be on the safer side.
However, you can use popcorn kernels 2 months after the expiration date has passed,
Anything longer than that will result in very dry popcorn without enough moisture for popping.
Remember the moisture is what defines how high and top, the quality is.
If added to other dishes, it will be the last one to expire due to its nature of high fiber and low-fat content.
Though popcorn kernels can last very long, popped ones will go stale after a while,
Unpopped ones will go dry and will no longer pop, and microwave popcorns will go rancid due to the fat or oil present.
Popcorn Kernels will last long provided there are no holes in the original bags and containers are airtight,
This is because air and moisture will make it go stale and shorten the shelf life.
Also, when the bag is opened too frequently, it will not last as long as expected.
How To Tell If Popcorn Kernels Are Bad?
The discoloration is a sure sign to know that kernels are depreciating.
Kernels get darker when dried and we know that dried kernels will not pop well.
A bad kernel will have black or grey spots on them, molds may begin to appear too which is extremely dangerous.
Bad ones don’t pop evenly, often times, half of the kernels are unpopped no matter the heat.
This is why you do not store fresh kernels together with old ones.
Also, the smell is another sign of spoilage and is most applicable to microwave popcorn kernels
This is because plain popcorn kernels do not really have a smell attached, it’s just plain.
However, due to the added flavors, microwave popcorn will have a bad smell of unpleasant, rancid oil after a while.
Next is the taste, bad kernel will differ from the yummy and buttery taste of fresh ones.
At this point, it is advised that you don’t eat further because it may cause slight food poisoning,
Depending on your immune system.
Lastly are the pests, termites are inevitable to dry seeds and popcorn kernel is not an exception.
So if you see bugs or any insects on your bag of popcorn kernels, it should be promptly discarded.
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Can You Eat Expired Popcorn Kernels?
Expired as in ‘past the written dates’ will cause no harm, but expired as in ‘bad’ is totally unsafe and not recommended.
First, it will dry out and won’t pop as it should, the flavor will go worse and it will not taste as good and fresh as a healthy popcorn will taste,
The rancidity in flavor and taste may cause discomfort on your tongue,
And you may get sick after consumption, depending on your system, people differ.
You can eat expired popcorn only if it is a few months past the date, popcorn that is years past the date is risky.
If it’s just a few months past the written date, it will start to dry out, and burn easily,
And popping may become difficult, but there won’t be harm to the body.
Popcorn Kernels contain moisture,
However, exposure to external moisture from the environment will lead to the development of molds,
And molds are totally unsafe to consume.
If consumed, there will be consequences like vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach disease.
So it is safer you trash out expired popcorn, especially when in doubt, and get a new batch of kernels.
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How Long Do Kernels Take To Pop?
Kernels will take 3 to 4 minutes to pop ideally, for a medium-sized pan. Depending on the quantity, it may take up to 10 minutes.
Although timing depends on the different methods used, most people prefer stove popped corn.
The quantity of each batch depends on how large the pan is because kernels should not be sticking on top of each other,
They should be spread and comfortable. 1/2 cup of kernels will produce 15 cups of popped popcorn.
To pop kernels, follow these steps;
- Pour the oil into the pan (2 tbsp, more or less). Use measurement that fits the pan and covers the bottom of the pan.
- Test 3 popcorn kernels on medium heat, and cover the lid of the pan.
- If the test goes well and kernels pop, take off the lid and turn in the rest of the kernels. Avoid overcrowding the pan.
- Cover the lid and allow it to pop, when the popping slows down, take the pan off. And allow it to cool.
- Then add salt, melted butter, or any flavor.
And it’s ready to munch away!
Will Expired Kernels Pop?
Well, they may likely pop, but the results will be nothing compared to fresh popcorns.
The kernels may go burnt and many will go unpopped.
No matter what, the answer to this depends on how well and how long popcorn kernels have been stored.
The ones that are just expired on dates but are still intact in quality will pop well regardless.
All you need to do is ensure it is properly stored in a dry, cool place, away from the stove, water, or steam.
For dry kernels and even popped popcorn, as soon as the original packaging is opened,
Transfer it to an airtight container and seal, ensuring there is no air in it.
Seal with a clip or a tight-fitted lid.
This will maintain the quality and protect it from getting moist, soggy, moldy, or dried out.
However, bear in mind that not every single kernel will pop, but the goal is to have the majority pop.
Expired microwave kernels can only be noticed after popping
This is because you’re not supposed to open them before popping them,
So until it is ready, check the results for anything unusual, any off smell or taste.
If any is found, throw it out.
Can Expired Popcorn Make You Sick?
As long as it is stored properly and no signs of spoilage are associated, there will be no health consequences.
Oftentimes, store-bought popped corn doesn’t have an ‘expiration date’,
Rather it is a ‘use-by date or best-before date’ they carry,
This indicates the period popped corn will be of top-notch quality but it can still be used beyond
Even if popcorn will not cause any harm when it’s just past the expiration date,
The quality will have declined and begins to taste awful.
Unopened, it can last 2 to 4 weeks past the printed date away from sunlight and heat,
Once opened, it can last 1 to 2 weeks in an airtight container away from sunlight and heat.
This is why your senses should come in handy when deciding or not to eat popcorn that has been left for a while.
Certain indicators point out unsafe popcorn such as the taste, smell, and condition of the packet
These are criteria you’ll use to determine if popcorn is safe or not.
To ensure the safety of your health and prevent waste of a good and eatable popcorn, take note of these;
- Do not expose popcorn (kernels and popped) to a humid environment, moisture and air. Hence, store in airtight containers.
- Do not refrigerate or freeze popcorn kernels because high moisture content and cold temperature will clash and degrade the quality drastically.
- Keep the popcorn in a cool, dark, and dry place away from sunlight and heat, preferably in a kitchen cabinet or pantry.
- Once the original packaging is opened, transfer the rest to an airtight container or plastic Ziploc bag.
How Long Do Popped Kernels Last?
Popped kernels left unopened, it will last for 2 to 4 weeks. Once opened, it will last 1 – 2 weeks. After popping, always let it cool to room temperature before storing it in a container.
Otherwise, the steam will result in excess moisture – an enemy of popped popcorn, which can lead to molds.
The more airtight the container is, the better
This is because if popcorn is left open, it will get dry and stale.
The refrigerator is a No! No! but the freezer can accommodate popped popcorn and keep it longer.
Just make sure it is properly sealed, and add a layer more of plastic on the top before tightening the lid.
Then wrap the container in foil and freeze.
When ready to enjoy, do not reheat or microwave, you can snack immediately.
If there are toppings, they may have become hard-frozen, eat with caution.
Note that refreezing is totally unrecommended.
So, freeze in batches and consume entirely.
How Long Does Microwave Popcorn Last?
This popcorn has a best-by date which is just a recommendation on when it should be consumed in order to relish high quality.
Microwaved popcorn can last for 6 to 8 months and even 2 months after the expiration date before it will go bad completely.
Although the difference may not be much in sight the oil and butter present in it will make it to go rancid.
As a rule of thumb, discard any microwave popcorn that has stayed beyond 8 months,
You should be cautious to prevent ill health.
However, you can be so lucky to have it stay for 2 to 3 months past the expiration date,
Once the smell and rancid taste come in, it is wise to discard them.
To ensure the longevity of shell life, keep away from stove, moisture, or heat.
Keep in the pantry or cabinet because heat and moisture will make molds develop.
Before tucking it in the pantry,
Keep it inside an airtight container (glass or plastic) or store it in a Ziploc bag that has all air out.
Do not refrigerate cos it will result in it drying out rather quickly.
How To Store Popcorn Kernels?
Store popcorn kernels in a sealed airtight container at room temperature.
This is to prevent humidity, and air and maintain a normal, constant level of moisture.
Storing popcorn kernels close to the heat will increase moisture content and then result in molds
While storing in a cold environment will reduce the moisture content making it dry and unpoppable.
With expiration dates on foods, the best way to flex them before they go bad is by storing them correctly.
Storing popcorn correctly will increase its shell life and keep you safe and healthy.
Ensure it is in airtight packaging or preferably the original packet, very important.
After which you store it in a cool, dry place, at a fair temperature.
Coconut and canola oil are the best options of oil to use for popcorn kernels
This is because they have a high smoke point (i.e they will not burn easily) and can withstand heat,
They have a neutral flavor and taste which will not affect the flavor of popcorn.
Do not use unrefined or the refined coconut and canola oil
This is because they may not withstand heat and will affect the flavor of popcorn.
It should be refined just right.
One outstanding thing about Canola oil is that it is budget friendly and clean.
Other suggested oils are sunflower oil and avocado oil, but avocado oil is way too expensive.
Making popcorn kernels pop is all science and yummy.
When the kernel heats up, water will expand, the outer layer gives way and the popcorn explodes,
This explosion is what gives us that fluffy, yummy snack.
This article covers all about popcorn, different types, methods of preparation, storage, and preservation. Go pop it up!
Remember, how long do popcorn kernels last?