To me, popcorn is the ultimate snack – for SEVERAL reasons!
First off, it’s versatile: you can enjoy when watching a movie or playing video games, when reading a book, or when working.
Secondly, it’s healthy: it’s not fattening, has high fiber content, and popcorn consumption has been linked to lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.
Thirdly, it’s easy to come by in all its forms: popped, unpopped, flavored, and unflavored. You can enjoy it fresh or go the lazy route and buy packs off the shelf.
But, how to store popcorn kernels long term? Also, how do you know if it’s gone bad? Is there a way to revive popcorn after its expiration date?
I’ll answer all that and more in today’s post.
How Long Does Popcorn Last?
The answer to this question depends on the type of popcorn in question.
Unpopped seeds, which are sometimes called dry kernels, have a shelf life of two years. They can last longer, too, but it depends on the quality of the seeds.
But if you buy the flavored kind, these will remain usable between six and twelve months after the past the date of expiry, provided you store them in the right conditions.
Microwave popcorn has a much shorter shelf life compared to unpopped kernels, and this is because the oil, butter, and everything else used in the pack doesn’t stay fresh for long.
At the most, these will remain usable for three months after the date on the label.
Popped popcorn that comes in bags will remain fresh for even shorter – it will last for a month at best after the date on the label.
If you open the pack, eat some, and seal it for another day, it will only remain fresh for a week or so.
How to Store Popcorn Kernels Long Term?
Storing popcorn long term is super straightforward: if you got it in an airtight plastic container, leave it in the same container and store it in a cool and dry place, like in the pantry or a cupboard.
If you got your kernels in a plastic bag, transfer them into an aptly sized airtight bottle – it doesn’t matter if it’s made from glass or plastic – and store it in a cool and dry place.
You will be able to use batches from this popcorn kernel box for years!
NEVER store popcorn in a freezer! The kernels will dry out faster, reducing the shelf life.
If you get the microwavable variety, store it as instructed, but do not expect it to last much longer than estimated on the label.
If you want to keep an open bag of popped popcorn fresh for longer, you can seal it with a clip or rubber band, and then store it in an airtight container. They won’t get dry and rubbery this way – but don’t take too long before you eat them!
How to Know If Popcorn Has Gone Bad?
Regardless of if you have some unopened packets of popcorn, or have put a popped batch away for later use, if the popcorn smells off, or you see even the slightest bit of mold on it, throw it away.
But this happening is very unlikely since popcorn has a good shelf life.
Popped popcorn will remain safe to consume for years if stored right, but this does not mean it will retain the taste and quality it originally had.
If you find that your popped popcorn tastes stale or has gone rubbery, you should get rid of it.
The story is a little different for kernels, though.
Popcorn pops because it has a tiny amount of water in it. Heating it builds pressure and causes the kernel to turn into a fluffy and crunchy snack.
But with time, kernels lose water content. To reduce this water loss, storing it in a cool, dry place, away from water and stoves, is recommended.
So, if you have some old seeds lying around, try popping a smaller batch to see if it’s gone bad, i.e., not popping.
Not all the kernels have to pop, but if the majority don’t, the popcorn has gone bad.
It easier to find out if the microwaveable kind of popcorn has gone bad – if you notice anything out of the ordinary in the bag after you open it, or if the popcorn tastes off, you’re better off getting rid of it and popping another, fresher pack.
Is There a Way to Revive Old Kernels?
If you have popcorn kernels leftover from years ago and tried popping a smaller batch and it didn’t work, or if your current batch has a ton of “old maids” – kernels left at the bottom of the bowl, there is a way to revive them.
As I mentioned earlier, the water content is what causes the popcorn kernels to pop.
Replenishing the water content, or in other words, rehydrating the kernels, often makes them poppable again.
David Woodside, the author of “What Makes Popcorn Pop?” says that the best way to revive old maids is to fill three-quarters of a quart jar with the seeds, and add a tablespoon of water to the jar. Then seal it with an airtight lid.
If you don’t have a quart jar, you can use a 33.8 oz empty bottle of water instead. Fill it up a third of the way with popcorn using a funnel, and add a teaspoon of water. Tightly shut the cap of the bottle, and give it a nice shake.
Keep shaking the bottle/jar every few minutes, so the kernels absorb the water.
Leave the bottle or jar in a cool and dry place for three days, and then test pop a small batch to see if the seeds have revived.
If your batch still has old maids in it, add a few more drops of water, shake, and store for three more days.
Now that you know how to store popcorn kernels long term, you are one step closer to becoming a popcorn expert!
And with this knowledge, you’ll be able to make the most of every kernel of this healthy snack you have.