A Staff Report from the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board

Does freezing unpopped popcorn make it pop fuller and fresher?

Dear Straight Dope:

My mom and my roommate believe that if you freeze unpopped popcorn it will pop fuller and fresher than if you don't freeze it. What's the word, bird?

Hey Unfrozen! Here's the word about freezing your popcorn--DON'T!

Popcorn pops because of moisture trapped in the kernel. If you improperly store your popcorn, it will lose moisture, ergo, more "old maids." Some people think the fridge or the freezer makes the popcorn taste better, but in fact this will dry out your kernels.

I ran some experiments with my air popper (courtesy of a magazine that I subscribed to). I froze four bags containing one-third of a cup of kernels (the most my popper can take), put four additional bags in the fridge, and had four at room temperature. In each group of four, two bags were a premium brand, and two were the store/generic brand. I tried popping the kernels with the electric popper preheated (running for about a minute, before putting the kernels in) and also when it was cool. I ask you, is this scientific or what?

I found that the longer the popcorn was in the fridge or the freezer, the more old maids I got. I also found that more of the kernels burned when I preheated my air popper! So the best way to get the most from your popcorn is to store your kernels in a cool place like a cupboard, in an airtight plastic or glass container. By the way, I didn't really see a difference between the store or the premium brands.

I hope this helps--and may your unpopped kernels be few!

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