Why does popcorn pop?
Popcorn is a type of corn with a thicker, harder moisture-sealed hull than regular corn, and a dense starchy center. When heated, the moisture in the kernel turns into pressurized steam. Pressure builds inside the hull, eventually causing it to burst, or “pop” in explosion, expanding the interior starch and proteins into an airy foam which hardens as it cools. If not contained, popcorn can pop up to three feet in the air.
I’ve used a hot air popper for making popcorn, but often just pull out a pot and pop it on the stove. The obvious advantage of a hot air popper, if you have popcorn often, is that you don’t need oil to pop it. And of course, popping popcorn is the number one use of microwave ovens, most of which now have “Popcorn” settings.
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Note: 1 cup of popcorn kernels will yield about 2 quarts or 8 cups of popped corn.
OVEN METHOD: Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Over medium heat, combine first four ingredients and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in baking soda. Stir well. Pour over the pop corn. Stir to coat well. Bake in large roaster or pan for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on waxed paper to dry.
MICROWAVE METHOD: Put the popped corn in a paper grocery bag. Microwave the butter, sugar, vanilla, and corn syrup, letting it boil for one minute. Then stir the baking soda into the caramel mixture. Pour it over the corn in the bag and shake it up. Microwave the whole bag for about 30 seconds and shake it up again. Spread it out on a lined baking sheet to cool.
Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line one or two rimmed baking sheets with foil.
In a saucepan large enough for the mixture to at least double in size, bring the sugar, Jell-O, water and butter to a boil. Once fully boiling cook for 4 minutes without stirring, swirling the bowl occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. Pour over the popcorn, shaking to coat completely.
Spread out onto the baking sheets and bake, stirring once or twice, for an hour. Set aside to cool, then break into chunks. Makes about 16 cups.
Bring butter, sugar, corn syrup and salt to a boil in saucepan, stirring constantly. Cook for 5 minutes; do not stir.
Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and soda. Pour over popcorn and nuts in large bowl. Spread in two 9 x 13 inch baking pans. Bake for 1-1 1/2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes. Store in airtight containers. Note: if you like it soft and sticky you can omit baking.
4 tablespoons celery salt
4 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
6 teaspoons garlic powder
6 teaspoons salt
6 teaspoons ground savory
2 teaspoons dried marjoram
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground sage
Thoroughly mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Transfer to a spice jar. Stir or shake well before sprinkling on hot popped popcorn.
Other Fun Toppings to Try
- Cinnamon Sugar – mix a teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of sugar and sprinkle on buttered popcorn
- Curry Powder
- Parmesan Cheese
- Buffalo – mix half melted butter, half hot sauce
- Chili Powder
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Why is popcorn a great snack?
If air popped, its free of sugar. sodium and fat, so low in calorie. Its also high in fiber and antioxidants.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||1,598 kJ (382 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||15 g|
|Thiamine (vit. B1)||0.2 mg (17%)|
|Riboflavin (vit. B2)||0.3 mg (25%)|
|Iron||2.7 mg (21%)|
|One cup is 8 grams.
Percentages are roughly approximated
using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
I would love to hear about your favorite popcorn recipes!