It’s popcorn week at Summer Yule Nutrition, and I am so excited to share today’s popcorn-related post with you all! Did you know that you can eat the tender shoots that sprout from popcorn seeds? It’s true! Keep reading for a simple how-to that will answer all of your questions on how to grow popcorn greens. These are very likely the sweetest greens you’ve ever tasted!
Not to brag, but I think today’s recipe how-to is so darn cool. If you haven’t tried growing your own popcorn greens yet, now might be a great time.
As discussed in the baked popcorn chicken salad bowl post, I purchase microgreen seeds through Johnny’s Selected Seeds. The last time I was perusing their products, I noticed that they sell popcorn shoot seeds.
What are popcorn shoots?
Popcorn shoots are simply the edible sprouts of popcorn kernels! The process for growing these greens is quite easy.
I let my first crop grow in the sun for a total of two weeks. The green leaves were a little fibrous, but the biggest surprise was how incredibly sweet they were.
I’ve heard some say that young popcorn shoots taste a bit like biting into a fresh ear of corn. We think the shoots are so sweet they taste a lot like stevia. It is pretty amazing.
I've also read that popcorn shoots grown in the dark for only one week make the best eating. They are sweet but not fibrous like the older green leaves. I currently have a batch growing in my closet, and I look forward to seeing how it goes! (Update: we did like one-week shoots better.)
The downside of shoots grown in the dark is that they remain yellow. You don’t get the lush verdant look of shoots grown in the sun.
Supplies You Need to Grow Popcorn Greens
The items that you need to grow popcorn greens are things you may already have on hand. Here’s what you need:
- A canning jar or other vessel for soaking the seeds
- Potting soil
- An 8”x8” metal pan with clear lid (I used one of those disposable baking pans; a slightly larger-sized pan is fine too)
That’s it! You don’t even need to order from a garden center to get the popcorn. Using plain popcorn kernels from the grocery store should work.
I used Bob’s Red Mill white popcorn kernels because that is what my store happened to have. However, any white or yellow popcorn kernels should sprout as long as they are not too old. Popcorn that has been sitting on the shelf for years may not sprout for you.
The stores in my area are experiencing a high product turnover right now as a result of people stockpiling. A benefit of this is that just about any plain popcorn you can get your hands on should work. Dry goods tend not to remain unbought on store shelves for long these days.
Even if you don’t like how sweet the greens are, this is a fun project to do with kids. Why not try it? No matter what sort of climate you live in, you can have fresh greens without a trip to the store.
I’ve been really into slow food and DIY this past winter. Currently, my efforts to do my part and stay home have inspired some gardening as well. Luckily, it’s possible to grow things in any climate, even with limited garden-related knowledge and supplies!
What are popcorn shoots used for?
You can use popcorn shoots just as you would other microgreens. Use popcorn shoots to top salads, sprinkle them in sandwiches, or saute them for a veggie side dish.
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The calorie information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don’t sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to this post. Let’s get cooking!
How do you grow popcorn greens? (It's easy!)
- ½ cup popcorn kernels (unpopped, unseasoned)
- Put the popcorn kernels in a glass jar and fill with warm water. (I used a quart-sized canning jar.) Cover the jar with cheesecloth or a dishtowel to prevent dust from getting in while still allowing air.
- Let the popcorn kernels soak for three days at room temperature. You should drain and refill the jar after 1½ days to keep the water fresh.
- After three days, drain the water from the jar. Fill an 8-inch by 8-inch (20x20 cm) metal baking pan with 1-1½ inches (2.54-3.81 cm) of potting soil. Spread the popcorn seeds out in a single layer on the soil. Press the seeds into the soil but do not cover them with the soil.
- Moisten the soil well with water and cover the baking pan with a clear lid. You want the seeds to stay moist throughout the growing process. If you live in a more humid area and are getting mold, remove the lid from the baking pan.
- For tender, yellow shoots, grow the popcorn shoots in a dark place for approximately one week.
- For more fibrous green shoots, grow the popcorn next to a sunny window. You can eat them at one week for more tender greens or two weeks for a higher yield of tougher greens. Here is what one week of growth looks like...
- If you grow them for two weeks, you may need to remove the lid for the last few days, as your greens will be crowding the container. Here is what you'll see after two weeks of growth...
- When you are ready to harvest these, cut them with sharp scissors above the soil line. Remove any seed coats that are sticking to the greens. Your shoots will be around 3-6 inches (7.6-15.2 cm) long.
- You can use popcorn greens to top salads or try them steamed as a veggie side.
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). The calorie count on this one depends on your yield and serving size, but I would not sweat it. Leafy greens are about as close as you can get if you are looking for zero-calorie whole food options. While they don’t actually contain zero calories, I think it’s fine to consider them “free foods” on almost any weight loss program. If you are a volume eater as I am, aim to get some leafy greens into your diet daily. They will aid in providing more bulk to your meals to help you feel full. Additionally, they fit nicely into almost all eating patterns (such as low-carb, vegetarian, vegan, etc.)
I hope you found this post helpful in answering all of your questions on how do you grow popcorn greens. If you grow these, tell me how you think these taste the best:
- After being raised in the dark or the light?
- One week or two weeks?
Also, I’d love to see your popcorn green culinary creations! I’ve been using them in salads or lightly steamed as a veggie side dish. Hit me up with some more ideas!