ITEM OF THE WEEK: Popping Corn

Popcorn may look like a dried-up ear of sweet corn from summer – but in fact, it’s a completely different corn variety. Also known as "popping corn," popcorn has grains ("kernels") with a hard, moisture-resistant hull that surrounds a dense pocket of starch. When subjected to heat, steam and pressure build up inside each grain, leading to that signature “pop!” Popcorn may be one of the oldest forms of corn, as it was first domesticated in Mexico 9,000 years ago from a wild grass. Compared to sweet corn, which is harvested fresh, popcorn is left in the field until its stalks and husks are brown and dry. Once picked, the husks are stripped and the ears are dried (or "cured”) for 4-6 weeks more. America consumes more popcorn than any other country, most of it grown in the Midwest – but the ears in today’s share come from New York State, of course!
 

Ingredients: 
* 1/4-1/3 cup fresh basil leaves and stems, chopped
* 1 cup coarse kosher or sea salt

Directions: 
1. Place basil in a blender with salt and pulse for 1-2 minutes, until basil and salt are ground to a fine texture. If need be, stop and mix by hand.
2. Line a baking pan with wax paper and spread mixture into a single layer. Break up any large clumps and cover completely with a clean kitchen towel.
3. Place pan in a cool, dark area and let sit for 12-24 hours, or until salt has absorbed all moisture from the basil and mixture is both completely dry and a lighter shade than before.
4. Sprinkle on popcorn, or use as a finisher for nearly any recipe. To store, transfer to a container with a tight lid and use within six months. Mixture may clump; simply shake to use.

-- Thanks to "The Rising Spoon" for recipe inspiration!