How to Keep Unpopped Popcorn Fresh

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Popcorn has long enjoyed a reputation as a quick, flavorful and wholesome snack--and the "pop" certainly adds to its popularity. According to the Popcorn Board, popcorn originated in the Americas, and the oldest ears of popcorn found were about 4,000 years old in a cave in New Mexico. And in Peru, thousand-year-old grains of popcorn have been found that still were able to pop--so storing unpopped popcorn and keeping it fresh is not difficult.

Things You'll Need

  • Unpopped popcorn kernels
  • Airtight containers, plastic or glass

Purchase quality popcorn. While you can get good results from store-bought packaged popcorn, if you have the opportunity to buy in bulk from a co-op market, you are more likely to find fresher kernels that will store well.

Put the popcorn in an airtight container. Popcorn pops because of the water content inside corn kernels. According to the Popcorn Board, kernels must contain 13.5 to 14 percent moisture in order to pop, and leaving kernels out for just one hot day can cause them to lose one percentage point of moisture--and a few days can render kernels unpoppable.

Keep popcorn cool but not too cool. Putting your airtight containers in a cool place like a cupboard or basement will help keep the kernels fresh.

While some people recommend refrigerating or freezing popcorn kernels, the Popcorn Board advises against it. Refrigerators and freezers are often very dry, and even in a good container, the kernels could lose some of their important moisture content.

Tips & Warnings

  • It is possible to "rejuvenate" popcorn kernels that have dried out and become unpoppable. Place the kernels in a jar with a small amount of water, and shake the jar every five minutes until the water is absorbed. After storing the jar in a cool place for two or three days, try popping the kernels.

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