Microwave Popcorn: What Storage Method Pops The Most Kernels? Mark B. Houser
Western Governors University
December 20, 2012
Microwave Popcorn: What Storage Method Pops The Most Kernels? Most packaged perishable food products come with an expiration date. In order to extend the life of the product we might freeze, refrigerate, or can it if possible. Popcorn is one of those items that my family has used the freezing process to extend its utility. One thing that I did not consider until recently was how the freezing process affects the outcome of the popped corn. The scientific experiment that I have chosen is, “Does freezing or refrigerating popcorn kernels affect the outcome of the popped corn?” To conduct this experiment I will use microwave popcorn consisting of six 2.7 ounce packages. I will place two bags each in the freezer and refrigerator, and the remaining two bags at room temperature for 24 hours. The next step of the experiment will be the cooking of the popcorn. The microwave oven that will be used for this experiment recommends cooking the 2.7 ounce bags of popcorn for two minutes 15 seconds which is the cooking time I will use. The final process will be to count the number of uncooked kernels from each bag which should tell me whether freezing or refrigerating the popcorn has any effect on the popcorn. The independent variable will be the temperature of the popcorn as it begins the popping process. The controlled variable will be the microwave oven, popcorn, and cooking time. The dependent variable will be the number of uncooked kernels remaining in each bag of popcorn. The popcorn that I will be using for the experiment is “Fit&Active” microwave popcorn distributed by Aldi Grocery Stores. This product consists of six 2.7 ounce bags of microwave popcorn with an expiration date of April 5, 2015. The reason that I chose this experiment was to see if different storage temperatures of the popcorn affect the number of popped kernels per bag. I have stored popcorn kernels in the freezer for years assuming that freezing would help to keep the popcorn fresh. However, I had not considered whether freezing or refrigerating popcorn would have any effect on the outcome of the popcorn. Threat Reduction to Internal Validity
The following is a list of ways that I will use to reduce the threat to internal validity: 1) I will use the same brand and size of microwave popcorn for the experiment 2) I will make sure that the expiration date is the same for all six bags of popcorn 3) I will use the same microwave oven and cook time for each bag of popcorn 4) I will separate the uncooked kernels from the popped kernels and count them By following through with this list the threat to internal validity will have been reduced so that the independent variable will be the only thing that will affect the outcome of the dependent variable. Literature Review of Similar Experiments
I reviewed several articles and experiments regarding microwave popcorn. However, most of these were experiments to see which microwave popcorn brand leaves the least amount of kernels. I did locate some website articles in which the authors were giving their opinion on freezing or refrigerating popcorn. One study found in the Journal of Food Science titled, “Studies on Popping of Popcorn in a Microwave Oven”, stated that long term frozen storage increased the popped volume in comparison with storage at room temperature, but there was very little difference in short term storage in the freezer (Lin & Anantheswaran, 2006). This article did not state what the time frame was for short or long term. Two other articles found regarding storage of popcorn both stated that freezing popcorn would render more uncooked kernels. One of the articles, “Will frozen popcorn pop more kernels than room temperature popcorn?” stated that refrigerated popcorn yields the most popcorn (Anonymous, 2012). The other article, “Does...
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