Here's a holiday gift idea that is wholesome, whole grain, and all-naturally grown, right here in Georgia. And yet, you get to coat it in butter and salt and eat it by the handful.
If you pop over to the Sandy Springs Farmers Market when it opens Saturday, you might be able to get your hands on some ears of popcorn, still on the cob. The little bunches are pretty enough to use as a holiday table decoration. After your guests are gone, you can celebrate their departure by changing into your jammies and popping up a big ol’ bowl of popcorn.
The corn is from Fry Farm in Bethlehem. Vicky Fry, who farms with her husband, Steve, and son Matt, says it’s just their second year growing the kind of corn that pops.
“It was harvested this fall, and then we cured it—we pulled the husks back and let it dry naturally for about two weeks,” she says. “And we kept testing it because we wanted every kernel to pop and for it to be big and fluffy.” The variety they grew this year is called Robust, which pops up with tones of yellow, as if it’s already been buttered.
The Frys plan to sell the last of their popcorn this weekend—some on the cob, some off. “A lot of customers buy a bag and a bundle, because they like to see where it comes from,” Vicky says. Fry Family Farm popcorn sells for $5 for a 1-pound bag or $2.50 for a small bunch of ears, equivalent to a half-pound of kernels.
Over at Riverview Farms in Ranger, the popcorn—four acres of it—has already been dekerneled for your convenience (and easier storage at the farm). It’s sold bulk for about $2 a pound; gift packaging is up to you. “People can scoop out how much they want, and they can put it in a cute little jar or bag,” says farmer Charlotte Swancy. The Swancys plan to have popping corn in stock for most of the winter. Riverview Farms goods are sold year-round via its Farm Mobile and at Morningside Farmers Market, and seasonally at East Atlanta Village, Grant Park and Peachtree Road farmers markets.
If you decide to buy your popcorn on the cob, here are some tips for removing the kernels for popping. Start at one end of the ear and, using your thumb or the flat edge of a butter knife, pry out the first few kernels. Then roll your thumb across the kernels, pushing them off as you go. Be sure to hold the ear over a deep bowl or pitcher so the freed kernels don’t bounce out and go skittering across your kitchen.