Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Science Chef - Popping Corn

We found Joan D'Amico and Karn Eich Drummond's The Science Chef: 100 Fun Food Experiments and Recipes for Kids, this week, at the library. It's basically a child friendly cookbook, with science lessons thrown in, answering questions like: Why do onions make you cry? How does yeast make bread rise? And, what makes popcorn pop?

Note to my regular readers: We do do more than eat at our house. But, since we have to eat sometime anyway, I figure it might as well tie into a lesson. I take a similar view of television, music, video game, and family fun time, too - I just don't always write about those.

So, remember when I mentioned we were going to watch Liberty's Kids in our pajamas, with some popcorn?

Of course, we needed to find out what makes it pop! We learned from The Science Chef, that popping corn is a special type of corn, with a drop of water inside of each kernel. When the kernel is heated, the water expands, and turns to steam, bursting through the outer shell, producing popcorn.

To check this out, we popped three batches of popcorn, according to the experiment instructions in the book. Before we popped the kernels, we put one batch into the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit, for one hour.

We sat one batch aside, and put the final batch into a cup of water, to soak for an hour. When the hour was up, we drained the water off, and toweled off the kernels, and removed the first batch from the oven. Then, we popped the corn.

The idea is that the kernels soaked in water, will have absorbed some, and will pop bigger, and with fewer duds, while the kernels dried out in the oven, will pop smaller, and not as well as the batch that had nothing done to it.

The results weren't stunningly obvious, but upon inspection, it did seem to be true. We also noticed, that the water soaked kernels made for chewier popcorn.

After each experiment in the book, is a series of recipes, to help in using up the ingredients from the experiments. We tried out "Cheddar Cheese and Chive Popcorn", which was pretty good, but won't be taking the place of Peanut Butter Popcorn at the top of our favorites list, any time soon.

For more fun with science check out this week's Science Sunday link up, at Adventures in Mommydom.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Unknown said...

My kids love this. I love to see how others use this book. Great post/

Debbie said...

This is great! Never really thought of how to make popcorn, other then to buy the kernels for popping!

Ticia said...

Very cool. I'll have to see if our library has this, because I've wondered why onions make me cry. They don't make Jeff, but man do my eyes water when I chop onions.

Marsha said...

What a fun way to teach science! I'm going to try this.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

I admit that I have never done popcorn, not even the one in the microwave, but I really like your food science. I have to see if we can at least have a look at this book.

Julie said...

I had no idea. Very interesting. I am also going to look for this book at the library. It sounds like a good one!

Brimful Curiosities said...

I grew up near a business that grows/makes popcorn. Several of my friends spent their summer detasseling. I stuck to babysitting! :)