Pop Secret: The Tastiest Way to Make Popcorn

PopcornPopcornI spent the last year living without a microwave oven and thus sort of inadvertently living without popcorn. The lack of microwave wasn't because I was taking a stand against the big appliance -- it was just that we moved and left our old microwave behind. In my microwave-owning years I had come to believe that the ancient art of making popcorn in a pot on the stove fell somewhere between anachronistic and dangerous. A few weeks agom my son finally persuaded us to buy a new microwave, and I was forced to realize how wonderful yet awful microwave popcorn is.

So, when we sat down
for a movie night, I decided to try popcorn four different ways: pre-made (Trader Joe's), homemade caramel corn, home-made microwave (Jolly Time), and stove top-popped using coconut oil (also Jolly Time).

Thanks to the encouragement of some friends who swear that eating popcorn made in coconut oil is like making love to a unicorn that smells like Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem drinking pina coladas on a beach in Bermuda, I decided to start on the stove.

Stovetop PopcornStovetop PopcornStovetop Directions:
1. Scoop a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil into a crockpot and wait for it to melt
2. Put just a few kernels in first and wait until the oil's hot enough to pop them before putting in the rest
3. Pour in the rest of the Jolly Time kernels (enough to cover the surface area of the bottom of the pot)
4. Cover the pot, and shake occasionally.
5. Turn off heat when popping slows
6. Sprinkle salt on top and enjoy!

A nice commenter on my microwave blog post had mentioned how she made her own microwave popcorn using just a brown paper lunch sack, so that was my next test. I got a bag and put some corn in it. How much? This much.
Bag PopcornBag Popcorn

Fold the bag over two times, pop it in the microwave, season to taste and voila!

Related: 10 ways to recreate Chinese takeout at home

I was originally going to make Orville
Redenbacher's extra-cheesy kernels, but I wanted to make this stovetop caramel corn in honor of my mother, whose recipe got me through a lot of hard times.

Caramel CornCaramel Corn

Caramel Corn Directions:

1. In a large pot, melt the sugar, water, butter and vinegar
2. When mixture starts to turn amber, turn the heat off and put two quarts of popcorn into the mixture (about 8 cups)
3. Stir, stir, stir until the popcorn is coated properly (it takes a while, don't give up!)
4. Tip it all onto a cookie sheet and spread it around, and sprinkle some salt onto it while it's still warm
5. Try not to eat the whole thing all at once!

Caramel CornCaramel Corn

So, yeah, I forgot to even open that bag of Trader Joe's popcorn.

- By Eden Kennedy
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