I learned something a couple of weeks ago and wanted to share with you. I bought a bag of popcorn at Dollar Tree. It was the stovetop type. Back home, I popped a pot full. Except for a couple kernels, every one popped. I thought, 'Gosh, this is nice'! And unusual, too.
A few nights later, I decided to pop more. This time, half of the kernels did not pop. The ones that did, only popped part of the way, I had to throw it all away. On yet another night, I popped more. I had to throw that out.
I thought I would see what I could learn from the Internet. I read several articles on popping corn. I dismissed them all, except for one. In this article, the instructions were basically the ones we all follow, except for one.
You were instructed to place your pot over medium high heat. Then add 4 or five kernels of corn. When the first kernel popped, immediately remove the pot from the heat and add the rest of the popcorn. Cover the pot and count to thirty. I did about 40 heartbeats.
Then return the covered pot to the heat. It was said that this period of time away from the burner gave the popcorn a chance to heat uniformly, and that when the corn started to pop, most all of it would pop at the same time, greatly reducing the chance of any kernels burning.
Eureka! The information was so very correct. The next and the next time I popped corn, I used this method. I was back to nearly every kernel popping and not one burned kernel. Unless you prefer nuked popcorn, you should give this a try.
Did you know? Regular butter has a smoking point of about 350 degrees F. Clarified butter, on the other hand, has a smoking point of 485 degrees F. That's quite impressive, almost up there with soybean, safflower, and not too far from avocado oil. Even higher than extra light olive oil.
With this in mind, and before we go to the presses, I decided to try to outdo myself. I did. I melted a stick of butter in a sauce pot. I poured the melted butter into a Pyrex measuring cup. I skimmed the solids off the top. That took about 3 minutes.
I didn't try to get the bottom layer of gunk out. I just poured some of the melted butter from the cup back into the pot, being careful not to disturb the bottom layer. Then I followed the tip above. Again, no burning, most all kernels popped, there was no smoking. After popping, I drizzled more of the clarified butter over the popped corn. This bowl, which I finished while writing this article, may well have been the best popcorn I ever tasted. Yes! Are you listening, Miz 2Sa?
Now that I'm good at this, I hope someone will share a recipe for making a caramel glaze to pour over the popped corn!
The Earth has completed yet another long journey around the Sun. It has come full circle. As of Wednesday, December 21, 2016 at 5:44 am EST, the Earth starts its new journey. This is the time I celebrate as the beginning of a new year. The Winter Solstice is my New Years Day.
Regardless of when you choose to celebrate the coming new year, I want to take this opportunity to wish all my new found friends at ThriftyFun, the very best life has to offer for the year 2017! Thank you.
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Happy Solstice! It is a special day for me too, because it is my brother's birthday. The best Christmas present I ever got!
Thanks for the nice popcorn tips. I love to make stovetop popcorn, although I generally use coconut oil. I usually only get a few unpopped or partially popped kernels, but I'll try your technique next time to reduce it even more.
I suppose any cooking oil with a high smoking point would do well. I had been using Crisco. It added a noticeable and unappetizing flavor to the corn. I'm sold on the flavor clarified butter adds to the corn, just as I would prefer butter on corn on the cob. The two just go together.
I love coconut cake, Almond Joys and piña coladas. I think coconut oil would add a nice flavor to the corn. I'll try it. I'm going to try avocado oil, too. It has one of the highest smoking points and what little flavor it adds might border on neutral.
Happy birthday to your brother.
Happy New Year to you and I hope you continue to share your ideas and "findings" with all of us throughout 2017 and beyond.
I am certainly going to try this method for making my pop corn in the future and I think I will try all of the oils as change is good.
Thanks for such detailed instructions/directions - I can just visualize my pop corn ready to enjoy even before I get out my pot...
I continue to make popcorn most every day, and I keep notes. My latest finding is that the hotter the popping temperature, the more uniform the results. I keep my burner on high and lift the pot from the burner as I think necessary, while shaking. Don't mistake the steam arising for smoke. In other words, pop the corn at the highest temperature you can without any smoking or burning.
I think once you pop your corn in clarified butter, you will never want to use vegetable oil, again. I hope you don't have cholesterol issues.
I've been reading the results of a lot of studies performed by experts and I wouldn't want to second guess them. But here's what I think:
Popcorn kernels contain moisture. It has been determined that the optimum moisture content is 13.5%. Anything higher or lower adversely affects both popped corn volume and number of kernels popped.
A sudden rise in temperature causes the moisture in the kernel to turn to steam. This steam causes the kernel to explode or 'pop'. The corn being popped might have the optimum moisture content, but it makes sense that the slower the kernels are heated, the more moisture would be lost before it could turn to steam, resulting in less volume and fewer popped kernels. I think this is why I have better results when popping at as high a temperature as I can, without burning.
Wouldn't it be something if I won this tip contest? Well, that's not likely to happen, especially not now. Not after I tell you this.
I posted this tip after reading and researching and experimenting. I tried the method several times. It always worked rather well. You can't argue with success, now can you? Well, in a word, 'Yes'.
You can forget all I wrote in the above post. I WAS WRONG. Removing the pot from the heat and counting to 30 is a vessel of bovine excrement....and I fell for it! The slight improvement was probably due to my attentiveness because I was conducting an experiment.
I have popped corn everyday and sometimes twice a day since just before posting my tip. And I have continued on a daily basis, afterwards. Here is what I have learned.
There is moisture in popcorn. When heated, the moisture turns to steam. The steam expands and causes the corn kernel to explode.
The slower you heat the corn, the more moisture escapes from the kernel before it has a chance to be converted to steam. That means more unpopped kernels and more partially popped kernels. It also means the popped kernels will have less volume.
It must be true then, that the faster you pop the corn, the more kernels will be popped to their fullest volume and more kernels overall will be popped. It must be true and my findings are that it is. And the one way to pop the corn faster is to increase the heat, from start to finish.
The last few of my trials were consistent and the results were consistent. I turned my burner on high, not completely high, but to the point it somewhat red. Then I put my pot on the burner and put my clarified butter into the pot. I waited til I saw the very first signs of smoke. At that instant I dumped all the corn into the pot and covered it with a lid. I did not do test kernels and I did not count to 30. I did not begin to shake the pot til I heard the first kernel pop.
Then I shook the pot intermittently throughout the popping process, lifting the pot at an angle occasionally, so that just the pot bottom near the handle made contact with the very hot burner. As the corn began to pop more slowly, I increased the time the pot was lifted. Finally, when hearing only a few unpopped kernels hit the bottom of the pot as I shook it, I removed the pot from the heat. I let it set a minute for any more popping to take place. Then I poured the popped corn into a ready bowl. This method is much faster, has even fewer unpopped kernels, and to date, I have not burned a single kernel of corn.
We learn as we go.
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