Elphin Grove and A pinch of... create new Tasmanian product: popcorn

GET POPPING: Matt Young from Elphin Grove Farm at East Sassafras with Tasmanian-grown popcorn. Picture: Johanna Baker-Dowdell
GET POPPING: Matt Young from Elphin Grove Farm at East Sassafras with Tasmanian-grown popcorn. Picture: Johanna Baker-Dowdell

Tasmanian taste buds are in for a treat when another home-grown product hits Harvest Launceston soon: popcorn.

Matt Young from Elphin Grove Farm at East Sassafras and Robyn Mayne from A pinch of... at Kayena put their heads together to create flavoured corn kernels.

The product is in the development stage and should soon be sold at the Launceston farmer’s market, Mr Young said.

“Robyn came up to me last season because she had popcorn products she wanted to do, but couldn’t get Tasmanian popcorn. She asked if I could grow popcorn and I said ‘I don’t know, I assume so’.”

That question prompted some online research and conversations with mainland Australian producers before Mr Young started testing new corn varieties at his North-West farm.

“It turns out that the corn we grow for baby corn is a popping corn when it’s mature,” he said.

“Once we got it matured, we then had to work on handling and drying because the moisture content for popcorn is the biggest thing. If it’s too wet it doesn’t pop, if it’s too dry it doesn’t pop so you’ve got to get it right within that range.”

Elphin Grove is wholesaling its popcorn kernels for now, but Mr Young is working on other ideas to package and sell the dry kernels.

“Robyn is going to bring it to the market and sell it as a value-added flavoured product. She is looking at doing little flavour sachets to sell with the kernels,” he said.

“If we can sell it as a raw product, it’s a lot easier. We may do fresh corn in the future, but at the moment we’re not set up for it.”

Some Tasmanian restaurants have taken the corn kernels too.

Now he has worked out the finer details of growing popcorn, Mr Young is looking at the varieties available.

“I was just trying to get it to pop first and now we’ve got it to pop we’ll work out what we do with the next step,” he said.

“Now we’ve got it to work I’m going to have a look around for different varieties, because there’s actually a lot more types of popcorn than I realised.”

Mr Young’s research revealed two types of popping corn: normal popcorn and mushroom popcorn, where the kernel turns itself inside-out and looks like a mushroom.

“I never paid any attention to [popcorn] until I went to my son’s friend’s birthday party and they had coloured popcorn and normal popcorn and I looked at how different they were,” Mr Young said.

“We might start looking at putting some [mushroom popcorn] in,” he said.