The simple answer is no; popcorn is not acidic! That is because corn (the main ingredient in popcorn) is a neutral food. But when some popular toppings are added to the plain popcorn (such as butter or cheese), the acidity changes slightly!
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How Is Acidity Measured?
The acidity of food is measured on the pH Scale. The scale ranges from 0 to 14, and foods that score on the lower end of the scale are considered acidic, while foods on the higher end are considered alkaline.
Foods that fall right around 7 are considered neutral (aka they are neither acidic nor alkaline). The average pH of plain, regular corn is about 6.9 to 7.3.
This means that corn is pretty much neutral. Popping the corn into popcorn does not change the acidity much, so plain popcorn would still be considered a neutral food.
But this changes when other toppings are added to the popcorn!
Do Adding Toppings To Popcorn Make It More Acidic?
While popcorn is pretty close to neutral, most of the time, popcorn is not served completely plain! So do adding toppings make popcorn more acidic?
Some of the most popular toppings that go on popcorn are butter, salt, caramel, chocolate, and cheese, and here, we will take a look at what these toppings do to the acidity of popcorn!
Butter has a pH of about 6.1 to 6.4, so adding butter to your popcorn does make it slightly more acidic, but it is still fairly close to the middle of the pH scale.
Salt, also known as sodium chloride, is a neutral food- it has a pH of 7! This is because sodium chloride comprises two elements- sodium (which is alkaline) and chlorine (which is acidic).
When these two elements are combined, they cancel each other out to make a neutral substance.
So if you add salt to your popcorn, you are only making the tasty snack even more neutral.
Adding caramel to your popcorn will make your popcorn way more acidic. Caramel has a pH of about 2 to 5, making it a fairly acidic food. Therefore, caramel popcorn is considered to be an acidic food.
Since there are so many different types of chocolate, there are a few different pH levels. Milk chocolate has a pH of about 6.1, dark chocolate has a pH of about 6.3, and white chocolate has a pH of about 6.5, making all types of chocolate slightly acidic. So adding chocolate to your popcorn will make it more acidic.
Like chocolate, there are also many types of cheeses, but most cheeses have a pH of about 5.1 to 5.9, so adding cheese to popcorn will make it more acidic.
If you try to avoid acidic foods, it is best to eat your popcorn plain or with just salt. But if you like to add toppings to it, butter or chocolate is your best bet. If you are trying to avoid acidic foods, stir clear of caramel or cheese popcorns.
Is Kettle Corn Acidic?
There are many variations of traditional popcorn, but kettle corn is one of the most popular! Kettle corn is popped in a kettle with oil and salt, and the sugar is added to give it its signature flavor. So is kettle corn popcorn more or less acidic than traditional popcorn?
As we know, corn and salt are both considered neutrals, so we only have to look at the other two ingredients in kettle corn- oil and sugar.
Oil is a bit tricky because the pH scale only measures aqueous solutions, which have a solvent of water (think of how sugar can dissolve in water).
Since oils cannot be dissolved in water, oils do not have a pH value. So popping corn in oil (such as vegetable oil or coconut oil) will not affect the acidity of the food.
Sugar has a pH of about 7, which means, like salt, it is completely neutral, and it will not impact the acidity of the corn! So kettle corn is a great neutral substitute for popcorn with lots of toppings.