Have you ever seen red popcorn kernels and wondered what the deal is? They look gorgeous, but what do they taste like? Do they naturally look like that?
Red popcorn is a natural seed heralded for its delicate flavor and crunchy kernels. It can be a great addition to your movie night snack roundup or midday snack routine.
What is Red Kernel Popcorn?
Red popcorn is a type of Flint corn that boasts kernels of a deep red hue. It dates back hundreds of years to when the colonists first came to America from Europe. It’s also called Indian corn because Native Americans used it as a staple in their diets.
This colorful corn is rare today. Field corn is easier to grow and harvest than this hardy variety, so most farmers choose to grow that instead.
Where does the color come from?
The crimson color comes from the natural compounds anthocyanin and cyanidin. These compounds give other fruits and vegetables a red hue (think raspberries, strawberries, and even red onions).
What Flavor is Red Popcorn?
Red popcorn tastes different than familiar yellow and white varieties. It has a distinct nutty flavor, which is quite lovely compared to the bland flavor of other types. You don’t need to top red popcorn with as much fat and salt because the natural flavor shines through beautifully. It also contains a note of natural sweetness that yellow and white popcorn doesn’t have.
Red popcorn might be your new favorite if you enjoy nutty flavors. Not into nutty? You might still enjoy it for its crunchy texture with some added seasonings.
Is Red Popcorn Better?
Whether red popcorn is better than other types is a matter of personal preference. That said, it does have better nutrition. Granted, it’s not phenomenally better, but it does have a stronger nutritional profile thanks to a boost of antioxidants.
Another thing: their hulls are thinner.
Red popcorn is considered ‘hull-less.’ Although no popcorn is truly hull-less, their hulls don’t remain hard after popping, leaving less stuck in your teeth when you’re finished eating. This is thanks to their smaller kernels compared to yellow and white popcorn.
Is Red Popcorn Healthier?
Yes, red popcorn is healthier than more common varieties, such as yellow and white. This is due to their denser kernels, which pack in more vitamins and minerals than their less dense counterparts. Not to mention those natural flavinoids thanks to their gorgeous color.
These antioxidants are present in all types of popcorn, but they’re amplified in the red version. This means more heart-healthy antioxidants. Red versions have 350 times more antioxidants than yellow or white popcorn!
Remember, all popcorn is relatively healthy and can help digestion, acid reflux, and binge snacking. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a snack of yellow or white popcorn, but you might want to throw a bag of red in there once in a while to switch things up.
How to Pop Red Popcorn
Red popcorn kernels are denser than other varieties, so they need high heat to pop correctly. This means a stovetop method is your best bet at getting optimal texture and taste.
Can you use other methods?
You sure can. But the results won’t be as good. Other methods, such as air poppers, microwaves, and popcorn machines, don’t get hot enough for the kernels to burst reliably to create a fluffy piece of popcorn.
If you use another method, get the heat as high as possible. You’ll likely end up with more unpopped kernels than if you pop it on the stove. The kernels also won’t be as airy.
Does Red Popcorn Pop Red?
Red popcorn doesn’t pop red; the kernels are white. You can see a tinge of red color inside the kernels, though, which is a neat thing to see. This is due to the heat used during popping; it turns white, although a small amount of the original hull can be seen inside.
The kernels are different than yellow and white popcorn in another way: size. Red popcorn kernels pop smaller, and their texture is more tender. This texture and its gentle nutty/sweet flavor make it perfect for light seasonings such as butter/oil and salt.
Red Popcorn Recipe Ideas
Choose ingredients that pair well with a nutty flavor profile to allow the popcorn’s natural flavor to shine through while adding a little extra flair.
Here are some mouth-watering ideas:
- Parmesan cheese
- Nutritional yeast (cheesy flavor without the cheese)
- Steak seasoning (or mix your own with granulated garlic, sea salt & black pepper)
- Extra virgin olive oil & sea salt
- Cinnamon & coconut sugar
This is hardly an exhaustive list, of course. The key is to choose something that will enhance its natural nuttiness, not something that will completely overpower it. The possibilities are truly endless.
Where to Find Red Popcorn
Red popcorn is more of a specialty item than more common varieties, but it’s still relatively easy to find. You can most likely pop into your local grocery store and find red kernels on the shelf, although small stores might not carry them.
You likely won’t find microwave popcorn varieties of this type of popcorn, but you’ll have better results with plain kernels, so you’re better off choosing those than trying to do a deep dive to find red microwave popcorn.
If you’ve never tried red popcorn before, now is the time. It’s fun, it’s unique, and it’s always good to try something new. Grab some kernels, keep the seasonings light, and enjoy a nutty, sweet snack that’ll knock your popcorn-loving socks off.