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How To Shell Popcorn

How To Shell Popcorn
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  • How To Shell Popcorn

    Post #1 - October 22nd, 2014, 11:54 pm
    Post #1 - October 22nd, 2014, 11:54 pm Post #1 - October 22nd, 2014, 11:54 pm
    I was asked how to get the kernels off an ear of corn. Instead of burying it in the Growing Season thread, I'll start a new post. Somebody might want to search for it someday....... this is educational stuff right here. LOL

    This will work with any dry ear of corn. This is the easiest way, but if you don't have callouses, you'll have a blister in about a half dozen ears. The good news is, 3 ears will make more than enough popcorn for two people. If you have more than two people, make everybody pitch in and help shell. The fun part is, just give them an ear and don't tell them the secret, watch them struggle trying to get the kernels off.

    You'll need an ear of corn:


    Start at the tip (the pointier end) and wiggle two kernels loose. After you get a couple loose, push the next two toward the tip, into the gap you just made with the missing kernels:


    The idea is to have two rows shelled, the length of the ear. Keep pushing towards the gap you made. It'll get easier as you get to the middle of the ear. Grab the ear and use your thumb to push. This is a one handed operation:


    When you are done with this step, it should look like this:


    Now grab the ear, and using the side of your thumb, roll the next row into the gap you just made. By using the side of your thumb, you should be able to get about 3-5 kernels with each push. Work your way up and down the ear, always pushing into the empty space:


    I'm guessing it will take about a minute to get the two rows shelled from tip to base, then about 30 seconds to shell the rest of the ear.

    The end product:


    There are probably as many ways to shell an ear of corn as there are kernels on it. I'm not going to say it's the only way to do it, but it's the way I do it.

    It's funny, this is another thing I have always done without thinking. I don't ever remember being taught how to do it, but I think everybody does it pretty much the same way. It must be in our DNA.

    Oh yeah, the skill isn't in getting the kernels off the cob, as much as keeping them in control, and landing in a pan/bowl. You will have to learn that part by trial and error.

    Hope this helps,

  • Post #2 - October 23rd, 2014, 7:35 am
    Post #2 - October 23rd, 2014, 7:35 am Post #2 - October 23rd, 2014, 7:35 am
    If I remember from the one time I grew popcorn, there's a fair amount of chaff that comes off the cobb when you knock the kernels off.
    Shaking the dish while blowing over it (you can use a hair dryer) will remove that chaff, but that blows the little fluffy bits of cellulose everywhere. If you do it standing over the trash can, you'll inevitably drop kernels in the trash. Best of luck.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #3 - October 24th, 2014, 12:38 pm
    Post #3 - October 24th, 2014, 12:38 pm Post #3 - October 24th, 2014, 12:38 pm
    This is a funny coincidence. Up here in Lake County, Illinois, north suburbia (but not far at all from farmland, actually), neighbors have been putting out ears of dry corn with their Halloween decorations. Yesterday I found an ear on the ground that squirrels had worked at in just about the same way our esteemed farming colleague described: Two rows cleared from one end to the other, and some kernels removed in the adjacent rows.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #4 - December 1st, 2014, 10:53 am
    Post #4 - December 1st, 2014, 10:53 am Post #4 - December 1st, 2014, 10:53 am
    Do as I say, not as I do........

    We had given about half of our popcorn away, on the ear, to friends & family. We still had quite a bit left and the moisture level was getting to be just about right, that it needed shelled and sealed up for storage. Since the weekend was warm, I dug out an old hand crank sheller that we found in one of the buildings, when we were cleaning up this place.


    There is one of these, where I grew up, mounted in the grainery. I was never a fan, they throw more corn around than you are able to catch. Looking at a lot of blistered thumbs, I decided to give it a try. I built a stand for it, so I could work outside, any kernels that got away would be picked up by the chickens, and I wouldn't have to clean up.

    I rubber banded, safety pinned and tacked an old feed sack around the sheller to catch any stray kernels. I wasn't even sure this was going to work for popcorn, since the ears are so much smaller than regular field corn.


    I got the sheller adjusted for the smaller ears and it worked great. We ended up with about 4 gallons of shelled corn, roughly 28 lbs.


    12 ears yields about a quart, so I fugure we did about 200 ears in right around two hours. There was a fair amount of fooling around, every 2 or 3 qts we'd stop and pour the kernels back and forth between buckets, letting the corn fall a couple of feet, so the breeze would carry the chaff away.

    If I was doing it by hand, I'd probably have a couple of dozen done by now.

    I need to fabricate a better shroud, out of sheet metal, to contain the loose kernels, before next year. I probably lost about a quart of corn to the ground, it was an acceptable loss though, considering the speed we got done.

    So I guess the new answer about how to shell popcorn is; if you have a half dozen ears, use your thumbs..... if you have a couple hundred, better locate something to give you an advantage.

  • Post #5 - December 1st, 2014, 11:35 am
    Post #5 - December 1st, 2014, 11:35 am Post #5 - December 1st, 2014, 11:35 am
    Or you could hire my niece! Actually, my nephew was even better at it but he finished his ear so fast I didn't get to take a picture!

    Abbi popcorn.JPG

    Abbi popcorn results.JPG

    Thanks to Tim for the ears--it popped up perfectly--yum!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #6 - March 20th, 2015, 3:56 pm
    Post #6 - March 20th, 2015, 3:56 pm Post #6 - March 20th, 2015, 3:56 pm
    A local farm store put all his leftover decorative corn in a bin for everyone to take away. I grabbed a few ears the other day, and put them out on the edge of the beach (I'm on Lake Champlain, just north of Port Kent NY), and waited to see how long it took the crows to discover them. Two hours and 15 minutes. Crows are very dainty, they wiggle one kernel at a time off the cob, and eat it. But it doesn't take them long to clean up an ear--but usually there are a pair or triple of them co-operatively at work. I like crows, but I'm sure not everyone does.

    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)