Popcorn on the cob

Guy loves growing something a little quirky, so for the second year running he’s experimented with growing popping corn on our French farm in the Vendée; it’s fun to play around with in the kitchen too.

The corn was planted back in May, across about 4 hectares of the farm. Like sweetcorn, which we grow during the summer, popping corn is a type of maize. It is important not to plant the two different crops in adjacent fields, as this could cause cross-pollination.

Sweetcorn can be harvested from as early as July in France, but the most important part of growing successful popping corn is leaving it for as long as possible and allowing enough time for the kernels to dry out; we left ours to soak up every last bit of the autumn sun and finally picked them in November.

We hope you’ll enjoy the magic of watching and hearing the kernels dance away in the pan. Here is our method, and a few ideas from chef Bob for how to pimp up your popcorn.



Start by stripping the dried kernels from the cob. The best way is to hold the cob with both hands and perform a twisting, Chinese-burn-style motion. This should loosen the first few kernels; it is then just a case of thumbing the rest away from the cob and into a bowl.

You’ll need a heavy-based, roomy saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Warm 1 tbsp vegetable oil, add the corn and put the lid on tight. Shake occasionally until you hear the popping start, then shake continuously over a high heat until it ebbs. Remove the corn and discard any unpopped pieces.

A few ideas:

Throw a knob of butter into the warm corn, mix until coated and season with flaky sea salt. If you are feeling crushingly contemporary, add a few turns of pepper or a measured shake of cider vinegar.

Whip up this simple butterscotch just before cooking your corn and slather it over a warm bowlful. Put 25g butter, 50g dark brown sugar, 60ml double cream and a few drops of vanilla essence in a pan and heat gently until simmering, whisking well. Cook for 4-5 mins until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and add a pinch or two of sea salt to taste. Allow to cool a little before using.

There is nothing to stop you going crazy with the spice cupboard. Add a little oil or melted butter as an adhesive and get shaking. Try dried chilli, smoked paprika and cumin, or how about some turmeric, curry powder and celery salt. Be so hip it hurts with truffle oil and grated parmesan.

17 responses to “Popcorn on the cob

  1. Oh yum yum!

  2. Looking forward to this…I’ve got 12 coming so please don’t miss us out!

  3. Lesley Blakemore

    Wow I can’t wait. We all love popcorn, ours will be with your butterscotch sauce!

  4. Organic popcorn what’s not to like? My little one will be thrilled. Thank you Riverford!!

  5. How much is it and how can I buy some please?

  6. Thank you Riverford, we love Guy’s corn on the cob, we are going to try butterscotch sauce drizzled with melted chocolate and a scattering of crushed pistachios (can’t reveal our source of inspiration !!).

    Dear Guy and Co
    It was a lovely idea to provide us with some real popping corn cobs but please send a PS in your next newsletter advising dog owners to keep these away from their pets (this includes on a Christmas tree).
    I and my veterinary colleagues remove lumps of wedged corn husks from dogs’ intestines on a regular basis and they can result in death – they are the ‘best’ intestinal plug going.
    I want your pets to be safe – you all know about the toxicity of chocolate, too much fat, and raisins in mince pies and Xmas pudding. Happy Festive Season from Julie Turner MRCVS

  8. We just popped our corn and it was lovely. Thank you!!!

  9. This was an amazing gift thank you.

  10. Thank you for our popcorn. It was by far the best we’ve ever had. So tender and perfect for our 5 year old to enjoy. How can we get more?!

  11. Is there an easy way to get corn off your cobs. Tried twisting but nothing. Used a knife to dig in but now have dried birs of corn far and wide over my floors. Have another 5 to do so would be grateful for advice

    • Elizabeth Kingsmill

      Judy, the twisting is just to loosen the corn, not to remove it, you then push it off with your thumb/thumb nail. I did mine in lines and it was easy. (And I have arthritis). Try again? It’s really worth it. Elizabeth

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  13. Hello Do you sell popping corn Off the husk how much plus post to Ireland Thanks

  14. Elizabeth Kingsmill

    Thank you so much for this gift! My popcorn turned out perfectly. Made it on Sunday afternoon with the recipe supplied omitting the brandy and substituting agave syrup for the dark brown sugar. All the corn opened and it’s fantastic! I am hoping I can wean my son off a famous brand of salted caramel popcorn! I was really surprised that a single corn on the cob could make such a huge bowlful! Need to increase the quantity of sauce to corn ratio though I think.

    Judy, the twisting is just to loosen the corn, not to remove it, you then push it off with your thumb/thumb nail. I did mine in lines and it was easy. (And I have arthritis). Try again? It’s really worth it. Elizabeth

  15. Can I get popping corn this year? Just browsed the shop, but it wasn’t obvious.

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