Read This Before Trying To Make Popcorn From An Ear Of Corn

Did you know that, in 1948 two graduate students, Herbert Dick and C. Earle Smith, discovered the oldest known popcorn on Earth? Tucked in a dry cave in New Mexico, the men found several individual popped kernels of the tasty snack that were later carbon dated to reveal they were over 5,600 years old, per The Harvard Crimson. The story serves to show that popcorn has been around forever, maybe even longer than we can accurately verify.

But, thanks to big movie theater machines, microwave popcorn, and pre-popped snack bags, it's sometimes easy to forget popcorn really is as natural a food item as a fruit or vegetable. It doesn't require any special ingredients or man-made help to go from kernel to popped treat. That's partly why humans were eating the same snack nearly 6,000 years ago that we still eat today.

But, knowing this, it begs the question: Can you make popcorn straight from an ear of corn? If all you need are kernels and heat, the answer should be yes, right? Well, it's not quite that simple. The short answer is that it definitely is possible. The long answer includes a few caveats, so before you grab any ear from your local farmer's market and try to pop it for your evening movie, you should probably get the full explanation.

It is possible to get popcorn from corn on the cob, with a few steps

According to the blog Microwave Meal Prep, "There is nothing that stops us from making popcorn on the cob using a microwave oven." The post explains that this can be done with carefully removed kernels, or with the whole ear still intact.

However, the most important thing to remember is that the corn has to be completely dry in order to pop. To do this, you can put your de-husked ear of corn or cut-off kernels "into a low oven with the door left slightly ajar, [in a] dehydrator, or you can use a microwave on low to fully dry the fresh corn," per the blog. It's also worth noting that it could take up to six hours to fully dry the fresh corn in the oven, so it's best to get started early if you want to serve fresh popcorn for movie night.

Once the corn is completely free of moisture, you should be able to pop it in the microwave using a microwave popper or even a brown paper bag, per Bless This Mess.

One final point of consideration: Make sure you've got the right type of corn to pop. Sweet corn — the variety commonly found at grocery stores — won't pop. Neither will field corn, says Bless This Mess. According to the Department of Agriculture, the Zea mays variety known as everta, which they say is a special kind of flint corn, "is the most common" corn for popping.