Foods You Can Pop Like Popcorn



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Whether it’s crazy curiosity or wild experimentation in the kitchen, trying to find foods you can pop, like popcorn, sounds fun. But you can’t go buying and testing everything that comes to mind. Not only is it costly, but it’s also messy and potentially dangerous if you end up popping something you shouldn’t. Most whole grains can be popped like popcorn but let’s take a closer look.

Can Rice Be Popped Like Popcorn?

Rice is the number one food that can be popped like popcorn. Popped rice, also called puffed rice, is a delicacy that has been around for quite some time. The earliest forms of puffed rice can be traced back to traditional cuisines in East, South, and Southeast Asia.

In more modern times, however, puffed rice rose to fame in 1904 after Alexander P. Anderson, a famous botanist, invented the modern process of making puffed rice.

On the scientific side, you can pop rice by putting it under high pressure in an air-tight container with steam. Since rice is a grain, like popcorn kernels are, and it contains some water inside, when it is exposed to heat, the water expands and forces the entire grain to pop.

How Can You Cook Popped Rice?

Although Dr. Anderson discovered a scientific way to pop rice, his method isn’t entirely kitchen friendly. Popping rice like popcorn in the kitchen isn’t a complicated affair. All you need is some oil, a saucepan, and your rice.

  • Add oil to about the half-mark of your saucepan and heat it on an open flame until it’s 392o F.
  • Take a sizable amount of rice, depending on the size of your saucepan, and deep fry it in the heated oil.
  • Ensure you don’t put too much rice because it will need room to expand when it pops.
  • Give the rice enough time to pop, but this happens fast, so keep an eye out.
  • Once popped, you can use a spoon to scoop the puffed rice from the oil and place it in another bowl.
  • Sprinkle salt, chocolate, or any other preferred seasoning, and it’s good to eat.

What Other Foods Can You Pop Like Popcorn?

Besides rice, you can pop several other foods, like you pop popcorn. Here are a few options to try out.

  • Buckwheat: These tiny brown seeds, known as pseudo cereals, pop like popcorn. To get your Buckwheat popcorn delight, you need to boil the seeds slightly, then leave them to dry out in the open, or place them in an oven under low heat to speed up the process. When dry, heat oil in a saucepan and add the dried grains to the hot oil till they pop. Take them out of the oil, place them in a separate bowl and add salt or seasoning to taste.
  • Barley: This is one of the whole grains that make a tasty popcorn-like treat. To make popped barley, you need to get a deep saucepan and grease its base just enough to prevent the grains from sticking to the bottom and burning when they heat up. Next, add a quarter cup of the grains to the greased pot and place under medium-high heat. Stir the grains frequently until they start to pop. When the popping starts, reduce the heat and wait till the popping slows. Remove the popped barley from the saucepan and season to taste.
  • Sorghum: The sorghum plant is credited for making a delicious popped snack, and unlike popcorn, it doesn’t have a hull, so it won’t get stuck between your teeth. For popped sorghum, you need to grease a pan with one teaspoon of oil, then add the sorghum, leaving enough room to pop evenly. Cook for one minute under medium heat while constantly stirring till popping starts and slows. Once the popping slows, remove the popped sorghum and season it to your liking.

DIY Popping

While many types of popped food are widely available in stores, it is possible to pop your own food at home. This can be a fun and easy way to experiment with different flavors and textures.

To pop popcorn at home, you only need a pot with a lid and some oil.

  • Heat the pot over medium-high heat,
  • add a tablespoon of oil,
  • then add the popcorn kernels, making sure they are in a single layer in the pot.
  • Cover the pot and wait for the popping to start, shaking the pot occasionally to prevent burning.
  • Once the popping slows down, remove the pot from the heat and add any desired seasonings.

How to Pop Rice at Home

To make rice cakes at home, start by cooking white or brown rice according to the package instructions.

  • Spread the cooked rice on a baking sheet and let it dry out for about an hour.
  • Once the rice is dry, put it in a large bowl and add a tablespoon of oil and a pinch of salt.
  • Use your hands to mix the rice and oil until the grains are coated.
  • Spread the rice on a baking sheet
  • Bake in a 375-degree oven for about 20 minutes or until the rice cakes are puffed and golden brown.

How to Pop Sorghum at Home

To make popped sorghum at home, start by heating a dry skillet or pan over medium-high heat.

  • Add a handful of sorghum grains to the pan, making sure they are in a single layer.
  • Cover the pan and wait for the popping to start, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent burning.
  • Once the popping slows down, remove the pan from the heat and add any desired seasonings.

How to Pop Quinoa at Home

To pop quinoa at home, you can use a dry pan or a hot air popcorn popper.

  • Simply add a small amount of quinoa to the pan or popper, and wait for the grains to puff up.
  • Quinoa pops quickly, so be sure to keep a close eye on it and remove it from the heat as soon as it’s done.
  • Once the quinoa is popped, you can add any desired seasonings.

Enjoy Other Wholesome Popped Treats Like Popcorn

If you thought popcorn was the only tasty popped snack, you were wrong. There are several other tasty and even more nutritious foods you can pop, like popcorn. Top of the list is rice, buckwheat, barley, and sorghum, which are only the most common alternatives. To add to the twist, all these alternatives work with different seasonings, allowing you to explore multiple flavors and mouth-watering tastes that vary but are just as good as your favorite popcorn recipe.

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