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stagis

Popcorn at home

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I pour in 1/3- 1/2 cup of oil and add a good rounded 1/3 cup of popcorn. When the first two kernels pop I toss in 1/4-1/3 cup of sugar and a good pinch of salt then give it a good stir with a wooden spoon. The sugar cools down the oil and kernels to allow this. Then put the lid back on and start shaking it vigorously and constantly to keep the mixture "swimmy" in the pan. Keep shaking until popping slows and most of the kernels are popped. Don't wait until it's quiet or it will be burned. Then carefully dump out into a very large bowl.

I just tried this, and mine burned. I was doing nearly high (8 on a 1-10 knob), then turned down to medium when it started popping. It's not badly burned, but I'd like it less so.

I'm not SusieQ, but I suspect your heat was far too high. Try a batch all on medium heat, or even lower if your pan is on the thin side.

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She thinks it's styrofoam!

:laugh::laugh::laugh:


I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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Having tried both approaches, I'm forced to disagree with Mr. Amirault's order of operations. I treat popcorn more like bacon than like a stir-fry. In other words, I put the kernels and oil (I prefer corn oil but that's not a hard-and-fast rule) in the pot before turning on the heat. Then I turn the heat to high and let the whole thing come up to temperature. I think, though I haven't done extensive side-by-side testing, that this approach yields fewer unpopped kernels as well as fewer burnt ones.

I have been thinking about the difference in approach between Mr. Shaw and me (so civil, this popping of corn), and I thought that, as with most things, Mr. McGee could help us out:

Thanks to a denser arrangement of cellulose fibers, the popcorn hull (pericarp) conducts heat several times faster than the hull of ordinary corn; and thanks to both its density and greater thickness, it is several times stronger: so the hull transmits heat more rapidly to the endosperm, and can withstand higher steam pressure from within before giving away.

As the temperature inside the corn kernel reaches and passes the boiling point, the protein matrix and starch grains soften, and moisture in the granules turns into steam. The steam softens the starch even more, and the many thousands of little steam pockets exert a growing pressure against the hull. The softening of starch and protein continues until the internal pressure approaches seven times the external pressure of the atmosphere, at which point the hull breaks open. The sudden pressure drop inside the kernel causes the pockets of steam to to expand, and with them expands the soft protein-starch mixture, which puffs up and then stiffens as it cools off, becoming light and crisp. (If the popping is done in a tightly covered pan that offers no escape for the water vapor, the endosperm will retain and be tough and chewy....)

Popcorn pops best at a temperature around 380F/190C....

From this all I glean:

You need basically any refined oil, as all get above 380F without a problem.

If you use the oil first then corn method I espouse, you want to approach the smoke point (for peanut oil it's 450F) before adding the kernels as they'll reduce the temperature. If you use the method Mr. Shaw espouses, with corn and oil starting cold, this doesn't apply.

I can't get a read on whether cold or hot start has an effect on puff. The protein-starch mixture needs to soften for the steam pressure to build to the limit needed, but it doesn't seem clear that length of time affects that softening.

The loosely fitting lid is crucial, as suspected.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Hi Chappie, Just got back from traveling last night or I would have responded earlier. When I first started making it I burned it a few times. Every stove is different (mediun high works for me) so try it again at it at a medium heat. Shaking is very important. It has to be constant and you have to keep the mixture "swimmy" in the pan. This is when a glass lid is nice as you can see where it's starting to stick and shake more in that direction. Also when you are hearing the popping slow down to about 2-3 pops per second thats when you dump it out.

I hope you try it again.


Edited by Susie Q (log)

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I've always used a pot, but I was walking through a local store on Friday, and ended up leaving with a popcorn maker -- they had just lowered the price to $19.95.

This machine has a non-stick base with a plastic, bowl/dome. The dome has holes in the top that allows the steam to escape as it cooks. You can also place butter cubes above the holes and I guess the popcorn gets a nice shower of butter by the time it's all popped.

I've used it once, following the instructions. It called for 3 tbsp. of oil and 1 cup of kernels -- way too much. By the time all of the popcorn had popped, there was a lot of moisture inside the bowl/dome so some of the popcorn was soggy. But I don't think that will be an issue if I use 1/2 cup of kernels or less.

I don't think I like the popcorn as much out of the machine as the pot, but I'm sick of cleaning the burned popcorn out of the bottom of the pot. And it's still a huge improvement over the microwave version.

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I'm sick of cleaning the burned popcorn out of the bottom of the pot

With the right combination of pot, oil and temperature, there should be no burning at the bottom of the pot (and very few unpopped kernels). If I can muster up the resources to do some photography next time I pop popcorn I'll demonstrate.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'm sick of cleaning the burned popcorn out of the bottom of the pot

With the right combination of pot, oil and temperature, there should be no burning at the bottom of the pot (and very few unpopped kernels). If I can muster up the resources to do some photography next time I pop popcorn I'll demonstrate.

But I like it when it burns a little . . . just hate cleaning it. With the machine I don't get the charred pieces, but I get really easy clean-up.

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The key is a lower heat. Also, no shaking is necessary, seriously. If you use a lower heat, and as long as you use the same "take off stove when popping slows" method as you would with microwave popcorn, you can pretty much leave the entire thing alone. It becomes nearly as easy as microwave popcorn.

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The key is a lower heat. Also, no shaking is necessary, seriously. If you use a lower heat, and as long as you use the same "take off stove when popping slows" method as you would with microwave popcorn, you can pretty much leave the entire thing alone. It becomes nearly as easy as microwave popcorn.

I agree on the lower heat, and removing the pan when popping slows.

I don't agree with the 'no shaking' policy, though. If your popping pan is very shallow (skillet), it may work...but a deeper pan (saucepan) needs shaking or stirring of some sort to force the heavier, unpopped corn to the bottom. And if that's a bit more work than microwave, so what? It's *so* worth the effort!

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My husband always shakes. I never do. If, as you say, the unpopped kernels are heavier (and I agree that they are) they will stay on the bottom in contact with the oil. My husband's method results in a substantial number of unpopped kernels. I sometimes get as few as two or three unpopped kernels. I use a medium to medium-high heat and simply leave the pot alone until I hear a couple of seconds with no pops. I have tried doing a very gentle side-to-side rolling motion in the beginning on the theory that rotating the kernels in the oil to evenly coat them contributes to quick simultaneous popping, but it doesn't seem to make an appreciable difference.

I use a pot that is deeper than it is wide. The surface area is small enough so that I can pretty much cover it with one layer of corn. That minimizes the amount of oil needed. I haven't had a problem with burning since I started popping this way. I do think that using very high heat is problematic; either some popcorn will be burned or, to avoid burning, you will have unpopped corn.

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I have one of the crank type poppers. I just turn on the fire, add a splash of canola oil, then three handfuls of popcorn. (rather small hands) Meanwhile I have butter melting in the microwave. When it starts to pop I give it a few cranks until it starts to pop furiously, then I crank faster. Remove from heat and drizzle melted butter while cranking slowly, then sprinkle a little sea salt.

Orville if I'm feeling extravagant, usually Jollytime if I'm feeling thrifty. The store brand just isn't very good.

Beagle loves popcorn so much he comes running the minute he hears the corn go into the pan. Then sits and watches the whole process to make sure I do it right.

I would like to find one of the domed poppers again. I wore mine out years ago. The crank one is flimsy and hard to clean and the plastic window has cracked. Maybe I should just go back to Revere Ware.


Edited by BarbaraY (log)
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Can I ask a question about the corn itself?

Can you freeze it successfully?

The mail order popcorn just arrived: there's a lot.


I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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Can I ask a question about the corn itself?

Can you freeze it successfully?

The mail order popcorn just arrived:  there's a lot.

I've had good results with freezing popcorn -- in fact, I always store it in the freezer.


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

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margaretmcarthur.com

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It's great to hear everyone's popcorn tips & tricks. We are frequent poppers in our house.

I love to use bacon grease in place of all or some of the oil. Especially good with butter, salt, and grated Parmigiano on top.

I also like using ghee since you get the butter flavor without adding extra butter on top. All you need is salt. Although, there is a discernible cultured butter type of flavor with ghee.

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I treat popcorn more like bacon than like a stir-fry. In other words, I put the kernels and oil (I prefer corn oil but that's not a hard-and-fast rule) in the pot before turning on the heat. Then I turn the heat to high and let the whole thing come up to temperature. I think, though I haven't done extensive side-by-side testing, that this approach yields fewer unpopped kernels as well as fewer burnt ones.

I do it this way as well. Excellent results

The key is a lower heat. Also, no shaking is necessary, seriously. If you use a lower heat, and as long as you use the same "take off stove when popping slows" method as you would with microwave popcorn, you can pretty much leave the entire thing alone. It becomes nearly as easy as microwave popcorn.

I agree. I actually read the directions on the bottle of Orville Redenbacher corn. I used medium heat and kept the lid slightly ajar to let the steam out. No shaking needed and the corn popped completely with no old maid or burnt ones, although I like the burnt ones.

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Which one is it, Scuba? Do you use high heat, like you agree with Fatguy on, or "a lower heat" which you agree with Hest88 on?

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Oh my, recently the potluck circuit has been talking of having a popcorn only night- popcorn pie, popcorn pudding, flavored popcorn in bowls and bars and balls, popcorn quiches, popcorn-flour pasta, popcorn chili, popcorn with salsa, popcorn pilaf...the opportunities are endless.

My standby method, if there is no paper bag and microwave around, is a layer of olive oil plus two cloves of garlic, heated for a bit, two handfuls (my hands are small) or popcorn, and fairly steady shaking or stirring. Out of the pot, I'll mix a few small batches of flavored kings- one with just good salt, another with nutritional yeast, ground thyme and smoked paprika, another with dill, lime zest, onion powder, nutritional yeast and pepper. Sometimes curry, pizza-flavors, popcorn, mint, fennel, anise, zaatar, furikake, rice crackers, seeds and roasted beans, coconut flakes, freeze dried veggies, and more will find its way into a bowl.

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Which one is it, Scuba? Do you use high heat, like you agree with Fatguy on, or "a lower heat" which you agree with Hest88 on?

Start in kernels in cold oil like Fatguy and use medium heat to get things going and then lower heat once popping in underway like Hest88

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I love my air popper. Bought it at a local hardware store 20 years ago, and it pops up the corn nice and fluffy. Even has a little container over the heater in which to melt the butter.

I like melted whole butter and sea salt, but also enjoy a mix of melted butter and olive oil, freshly grated parmesan and pepper. I eat that one for dinner sometimes.


“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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in regards to freezing popcorn ..I always thought and have no idea who told me this or where it came from

that you should keep it cold because the little bit of moisture in the germ will pop better from the shock of the heat and the cold center

???? I dont know I just think this

so I always keep it in the freezer as well


why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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thanks to this thread and my constant desire to torture my sister in law we just purchased her family the Whirly Pop pot, good popcorn, a 6 packet of flavored salts and 3 movies

1 /(4) more off the list

tracey


The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

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Hi everyone, I've been gone from EG for a while but this is a good place to jump back in! Someone upthread asked about popping corn in butter and oil, which thrills me to no end because it gives me an opportunity to refer you to my story of the Butter Incident.

Nothing to do with the Incident, but I am a blaspheming eschewer of buttered popcorn. I feel that it makes the popcorn uncrispy.

I've done all kinds of homemade toppings, but one time my Penzey's order came with a free sample of Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle and I have to say that made one of the best toppings ever. There's something a little ersatz about dried cheese powder and garlic powder that is right at home on popcorn, in a good way. I know that doesn't sound very convincing.


Edited by Dianabanana (log)

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that you should keep it cold because the little bit of moisture in the germ will pop better from the shock of the heat and the cold center

???? I dont know I just think this

so I always keep it in the freezer as well

I haven't heard about keeping it cold, but along a similar vein, a Canadian science show reported if your popcorn isn't popping very well, you should fill a jar with popping corn, add a tablespoon of water, shake, and let sit. The popping corn should absorb the water and be poppable again.

I have a big Costco container of popping corn, and it won't fit in my teeny tiny freezer. :sad:

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So ... having heard me repeat my newfound stovetop popcorn obsession, Mom gave me a huge case of 12 varieties from Fireworks Popcorn for Christmas:

http://www.popcornlovers.com/c-2-popcorn.aspx

There are actually 13 types lister here, but as I'm not at home right now I can't recall which one is left out of the box).

So far I've tried Harvest Blend and High Mountain Midnight, and both were delicious.

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