Popcorn is popped on the stove top at our house. Some oil in a hot pan, add a few test kernels, when they pop, pour in the rest, cover and give a good shake. We’ve purchased our popcorn from the Amish bulk food stores that serve our area. With such a readily available and cheap snack we never felt compelled to grow our own. This season we broke our habits and grew Dutch Butter Flavored Popcorn. We will have new habits for years to come from this small change!
Last winter we attended a presentation by William Woys Weaver. His talk inspired us to raise a broader range of Heirlooms. A packet of Dutch Butter Flavored Popcorn was added to our Fedco seed order. The packet planted 80’ of a 42” bed, double row with individual seeds set at 8”-10” apart, alternate. The bed had been butternut squash the year before with debris removed, lime (10lbs.) and 1 year old horse manure compost (400lbs) top dressed. The bed was lightly worked to check unwanted plant growth and hand seeded early June (bed prep, seeding and care 30 min. max!). Excellent germination and plant establishment had the corn several feet high by early July. No irrigation (we had timely rain) and two hoeing passes were made during the season.
The popcorn plants were slight and a pale green. Not like the big robust appearance of the synthetic boosted dent corns typically grown. Tassels emerged in early August and flowering was mid-Aug. Small ears developed slowly and weren’t ready till late September. The late development had me wonder if a crop would develop. Plants produced two ears. Most were 4-5” long with 12+ rows of small popcorn kernels. A few had poor fertilization and some were nubbins. Maturation was at about 100 days with a fairly high moisture content. Cool temperatures and above average rain in September resulted in plants that needed all the late season time we could give them to finish in the field. A harvest was made at the end of September, the ears were spread to dry in the barn and were distributed at our last CSA pick-up.
We popped the first batch shortly after harvest and had 50% unpopped. At a couple of weeks drying we popped more and had 95% pop. Wow, was it good! CSA customers asked for more. My family came running when they heard popping. A popcorn that needed no salt or butter added. It has a delicious flavor that is very satisfying. Tender and light, it is the best we’ve ever enjoyed.
Dutch Butter Flavored Popcorn is an OP (open pollinated) variety so some variation is naturally occurring. The yield is modest, but soooo good that this demo has become a new favorite. I can’t imagine not growing it every year now. Compared to what used to satisfy our popcorn desire, this popcorn is worth the bit of time it takes to grow and handle.