Popcorn is delicious, really fun to make, and super cheap. All of which are great for a university student like myself.
Making your own popcorn frees you from having to buy the microwave variety, with the highly suspicious "butter flavoring".
It also opens you up to other flavors, from sweet candy corn, to savory spiced creations, to smokey and spicy. Corn is so versatile the options are nearly endless.
So if you want to learn how easy it is to make your own, please read along.
Step 1: What You Will Need
A large pot, with a lid!
Popping Corn ($3 from the grocery store)
Cooking Oil ($5 canola,olive,peanut,or butter)
Whatever seasonings strike your fancy.
Serving bowl (optional)
Step 2: Measure Out Ingredients
Measuring the oil and corn kernels is very important, but the spices are up to you.
Start by measuring out how much popcorn you want. It is going to expand to about 10x it's current size. So if you do half a cup, you are going to get about 5 cups of popcorn.
Then measure out half of the volume of popcorn in oil. So half a cup of popcorn = .25 cup of oil.
You can then measure out the flavorings if you want, or just wing it later.
I used 2 tbsp of powdered sugar. Regular sugar works better, but this is what I had.
1tspn of salt
1tspn of chipotle.
Step 3: Cooking the Popcorn
This is the fun part.
However it deals with hot oil, and exploding pressure vessels. So it is fairly dangerous as far as cooking goes. You should have a fire extinguisher, or a box of baking soda, on hand should things go badly. NEVER PUT OUT AN OIL FIRE WITH WATER.
Put the pot on the stove and set to medium. Add the oil to the pot and let it heat up. We are aiming for hot, but not boiling, and certainly not smoking.
After about two minutes, add two or three kernels to the hot oil. Leave them for about 45sec they should pop. Stand back they will spray hot oil when they go off. If they didn't pop then you haven't gotten hot enough. if they are burnt you are too hot, adjust the temperature accordingly.
I added the seasoning now and dispersed it through the oil, this gives the popcorn a mild, but evenly distributed, taste. If you want it to be stronger add the spices after it has popped.
When the test kernels pop, and you are at the correct temperature. Add the rest of the kernels. Shake the pot to spread the oil out. Put the lid on, but leave it ajar so that steam can escape. Act quickly as you only have about 30sec.
This is when the fun starts. As the heat of the oil liquefies, and then boils the starch inside the kernels. Pressure is going to build up, and then rupture the kernels cooking the starch as it exits. The sudden release of this pressure forces the kernels to accelerate upwards. You'll begin to hear them popping and tinging of the lid of the pot. Continue to shake the pot if you can.
Once the popping slows down, to about 1 pop per second, remove the pot from the heat as we don't want to burn the popcorn.
If you haven't added the seasonings yet this would be the time.
Step 4: Serve and Enjoy
Now it's time to eat :)
Serve you popcorn in a big bowl. Or if you want to limit consumption, which might be a good idea once you try some, smaller individual bowls.
Want some browny points? Make a big pot in the common room, the smell of popcorn is bound to draw some people out if their rooms.
The chipotle sugar mix has a sweet, spicy, and smokey flavor that really sets this apart from store bought popcorn.
Straight sugar and salt is another favorite.
Enjoy your 30¢ snack.