Introduction: Making Perfect Stove-top Popcorn
WARNING: The following Instructable may contain tips and tricks that you do not know. If this is the case, do not panic. Kindly grab the nearest pillow or person by you, put your face into them while you let out your excited scream, and proceed with the 'ible. If you already know or do the following tips and tricks, give yourself a pat on the back...you're in the Elite Popcorn Poppers Club! ;)
Tired of chewy, burnt, and/or soggy popcorn?
Tired of leaving behind more kernels in your bowl then puffs?
Wishing to make your popcorn healthier without sacrificing flavor? (Is that even possible!?)
Well look no further! This 'ible explores tips and tricks for getting the best and most out of your popcorn EVERY time!
Didn't think stove-top popcorn could take the heat? You're on!
Step 1: Let's Get Popping...
Though every approach to popping stove-top popcorn seems the same...there are key differences that make some approaches work and others flop (or be inconsistent). Therefore, I felt it was my duty for all the popcorn lovers in the world--I mean, who doesn't love popcorn for snacking!?--to write an 'ible that's 100% guaranteed, unless you really try to mess it up ;)
Here's What You'll Need:
Saucepan with lid (glass is always best for the kids to watch the popcorn "grow")
Oil (vegetable, canola, olive, or coconut oil)
Salt (I use sea salt)
Optional 2nd bowl (more info in last step)
Step 2: Set the Mood...
To give your popcorn just the right atmosphere for popping, turn the temperature down from a sultry and traditional "High," to a popcorn-perfecting "Medium."
As you may have noticed when you cook popcorn on high, you build up a lot of steam. If you don't constantly let it out, you get chewy popcorn--YUCK!. Fortunately, it's a myth that you need the oil to be heated that high in order to pop the kernels. Medium heat is more then sufficient, doesn't require any special skills or equipment, and it yields consistent results every time (BONUS!).
Medium heat is also crucial when using unsaturated oils such as olive oil. Olive oil has a lower smoke point. This means that anything over medium will turn your once-healthy olive oil into a nasty carcinogen as it begins to smoke. There is currently no scientific evidence that suggests that any serious health complications in humans have occurred specifically by inhaling this carcinogenic smoke (as our bodies are pretty amazing and have natural ways to combat against this--hey, we face these kind of toxins every day!), but...if you can avoid purposely putting toxins into your air then why wouldn't you? Especially for families with children, pets (that may have less tolerant immune systems), elderly, or sick members (who's immune systems are already compromised).
Resource (among many) about carcinogenic olive oil smoke: http://www.healthyfood.co.nz/articles/2007/april/f...
Step 3: Here We Go...
Now, this section may shock you just because of how delicious my popcorn pan looks from beginning to end. Hahaha!
The story: I had already made 2 other batches of popcorn before realizing, "Hey, duh! You need to write an 'ible on this!" So please forgive the already-used pot for these pictures. But if you think about it, that just makes the experience all the more real, now doesn't it? ;)
1. Fill the bottom of the pot with oil. So far, so good. This is pretty much the basic understanding for cooking popcorn on the stove. Only put in enough oil so that it just covers over the bottom...we're not deep-frying our popcorn (although I'm sure you could find a way, lol)!
2. Add all your kernels in a single layer over the bottom of the pot. What did I just say!? No, we aren't adding the entire bag. Yes, we aren't waiting for one or three kernels to pop first "letting us know the oil is ready" before adding in more. Nuh-uh. We are adding all our kernels in now (just to layer the bottom), and I will prove to you that that's OK. :)
3.Put on your lid and give the pot a little shake to coat the kernels with oil. Make sure you leave it on Medium heat from start to finish.
4.Now, wait. Within a short amount of time you will hear your first kernels begin to pop. HOORAY!
5.Once the first kernels have popped, give the pot a little circular shake--BUT DON'T GO CRAZY! I've seen so many people (and I used to be one of them) shake the pot in a circular motion around the burner for the entire time that the kernels are cooking. I've also seen some of these same people burn themselves from the hot pot (their hand slipped while constantly shaking it) or from some hot oil splattering out (as their hand slipped, pushing off the lid a little). I've seen them ruin the bottom of their pot, the top of their burner, or both. And the most common side effect of this method is fatigue (from having to move your arms constantly). So just don't do it. It's, truly, not necessary (as you will see in this 'ible). A little shake (with or without your hand over the lid) every little while is all you need. How often to shake it? "You will know"--Yoda.
6. When the popcorn reaches the top of the pot (if you don't have a glass lid, just take a little peek), give it one final little shake and take it off the heat (keeping the lid on to catch any flying kernels that are still trying to pop).
To be continued in the next step....
Step 4: Dump It Out, Load It Back Up...
Now, here's yet another fun tip/trick for getting the most out of every batch of popcorn.
POP EVERY KERNEL.
You didn't know this could actually be a thing, did you? Read on, my friend...
You can do this one of two ways. But either way, LEAVE THE BURNER ON.
OPTION 1: When you go to pour your popcorn from the pot into it's designated bowl...whip out a second bowl immediately after you've dumped it. Now, quickly put the pot back on the burner (which is still on medium heat), add a little more oil (only if you've dumped it all out), escort the popcorn puffs out of the first bowl and into the second bowl (leaving behind the un-popped kernels in the first bowl), and quickly load the kernels back into the pot. Cover and continue cooking these kernels (which will start popping again almost immediately because they're still nice and hot) until every one of them has popped. In the meantime, while the first kernels are still hot, add some salt and mix it up a bit to evenly coat each bite. Dump the second round into the bowl with the first round, and before mixing them together, add a little salt to just the new kernels while they're still hot. Botta-bing botta-boom...you just popped (mostly) ALL of your kernels! :)
OPTION 2 (For the more "advanced" popper, lol): Once you've been doing this approach for awhile, you will probably get pretty good at skipping the second bowl all together, and just pouring out the popped kernels the first time around (directly from the pot). This will leave your un-popped kernels (and maybe a few popped puffs--this is A-OK) in the bottom of the pot so you can quickly and more efficiently continue cooking them until they're all popped. Practice makes progress!
Popcorn is just one of those things that should never be wasted ;)
Believe it or not, this is all it takes to make healthier, perfectly popped, never wasted, stove-top popcorn. And remember what I said about taste? Yeah, with this approach and a little (sea) salt, it literally tastes just as good (if not, better) then buttered popcorn! (NOTE: The medium heat allows the popcorn to really absorb the "buttery" flavor of the oil while it gently cooks.) And I am seriously a butter-aholic popcorn lover--well, not anymore! Try it for yourself and let me know how it goes...Happy Popping! Mmmmmm....