popcorn substitute

topic posted Tue, January 9, 2007 - 6:15 PM by  Lady Bird
Is there another less commonly used seed which will pop like corn and not break my teeth to chew?
I don't think i'm allergic to corn, but would like to minimize my use of common allergens so i don't develope an allergy and can still enjoy corn in small amounts.
posted by:
Lady Bird
  • Re: popcorn substitute

    Wed, June 2, 2010 - 2:01 PM
    To answer my own question, amaranth will pop (very small of course, and different method, works better without oil and burns easily) and there is a popping variety of sorghum. There are popping beans called nuñas. Sorghum is pretty closely related to corn but, along with millet, has the lowest incidence of allergies. The syrup pressed out of the stalks (it's also related to sugar cane) is very nice too, my parents used to use this when i was a kid because a friend grew it.
    Sorghum is easy to grow if you can grow corn, very productive, tougher than corn. The popping sorghum is not used for sap, though it probably could, just less efficient. Seed and sap sorghum are often interchangeable, you can eat the seeds from the sap varieties though they may have lower productivity.
    Also, for those not allergic to corn simply wanting a more pleasant chewing experience, a variety of corn which i am growing but have not tried yet is Japanese hulless popcorn. This is an heirloom, not a hybrid, the hulls are bred to be very soft and not so crunchy and hard on the teeth as other popcorn. It is a white variety which is usually more tender.
    Rice does not pop naturally like corn in a pan, and while popping seeds is not really that healthy in the first place, it's ok as a treat. This is wikipedia's explanation of the process used for puffed rice, amaranth, quinoa and so on which is far more toxic:

    Extrusion has found great application in food processing. Products such as pastas, breakfast cereals, Fig Newtons, cookie dough, Sevai, Idiappam, jalebi, french fries, baby food, dry pet food and ready-to-eat snacks are mostly manufactured by extrusion. In the extrusion process, raw materials are first ground to the correct particle size (usually the consistency of coarse flour). The dry mix is passed through a pre-conditioner, where other ingredients are added (liquid sugar, fats, dyes, meats and water depending on the product being made), steam is also injected to start the cooking process. The preconditioned mix is then passed through an extruder, and then forced through a die where it is cut to the desired length. The cooking process takes place within the extruder where the product produces its own friction and heat due to the pressure generated (10–20 bar). The cooking process utilizes a process known as starch gelatinization. Extruders using this process have a capacity from 1–25 tonnes per hour depending on design.

    Use of the extrusion cooking process gives the following food benefits:

    * Starch gelatinization
    * Protein denaturation
    * Inactivation of raw food enzymes
    * Destruction of naturally occurring toxins
    * Diminishing of microorganisms in the final product

    Benefits eh? Odd criteria, i only see one benefit on the list (destruction of toxins). Also read this less optimistic article:

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