Over the years, we have had friends ask us how we make our delicious stove-top popcorn, so I’ve been intending to do a blog post about it. Then, Arden just asked the same question:
“Are there any hints you can share about making popcorn? Homemade is so tough and unpleasant we always go back to microwave.”
Ahem. I feel like an awkward 7th grade boy with pimples being introduced by the Nobel-winning scientist. Isn’t my Darling an amazing woman? The music of her grace and beauty fills my world with deep, deep completeness.
- Start with a heavy-bottomed pan. Personally, I prefer the two-quart sauce pot. It’s not so big that the popcorn scorches by the time all your kernels have popped. Unless you are content with small batches (not me), don’t use anything smaller. Once your pot is hot after making a batch, it’s nearly impossible to make a second batch without letting the pot cool. I don’t want to get attacked by my two-year-old waiting for popcorn, so I don’t like to wait to make a second batch.
- Oil is a crucial, crucial choice. Basically, you want a oil rated for med-high to high heat. I recommend coconut oil, grapeseed oil, or sesame oil. It’s fun to experiment and notice taste differences. Don’t use canola oil. The stuff isn’t all that great for you. Add a couple of tablespoons to your pot. Here’s where the experimentation also comes into play. After a while, you’ll learn how much is good. Put the pot on med-high heat and cover.
- You’ll know your oil is hot enough when you drop in a kernel of corn and it sizzles. Add the popcorn (about a cup or so; handfuls!). Basically, you want the oil to sizzle around the sides of the kernels. You don’t want to deep-fry the kernels, but don’t leave them high and dry either. The hot oil is what makes the kernels hot enough to pop. But too much oil will “dampen” the popping and you’ll have soggy popcorn.
- Be sure to put the lid on the pot and keep it on med-high heat. Soon, you’ll hear the popcorn start to pop. Just before the corn starts to push the lid off, lift the pot off the burner and, with one hand on the lid, shake the pot vigorously a couple of times. Don’t mess around doing this; you want to keep the bottom of the pot hot. Shake and put the pot back on the burner until the last possible minute.
- Just before popcorn explodes all over, dump about half the popped corn into a large bowl, shake quickly, and put on the burner until the rest of the corn pops. Dump the rest in the bowl when there’s about 15 sec between pops, even if there are still “old maids” (unpopped kernels) left in the pot. Pick those out or be careful not to crunch down on them.
- Season while still warm. (For seasoning suggestions, visit this post on “Gourmet Popcorn” flavors!) If you like buttered popcorn, I recommend:
2-3 Tbl. Butter
3 Tbl. Honey
Drop of Vanilla Extract
Warm up in a small pot until runny. Pour over popcorn, stirring with a spoon. Season with sea salt to taste.
- Now sit back and enjoy your bowl of popcorn while watching the snow fall outside!