Ever tried popping popcorn on the stovetop? No, not in the Jiffy Pop container! We mean in a pot with a bit of vegetable oil, the old fashioned way. It’s a fun and less expensive way to enjoy a delicious snack. Next time you’re in the grocery store, check out how much you can save by purchasing a plain old bag of popcorn, pick up a bag and give some of these ideas a try.
How to pop on the stovetop:
– Drag the big old pot – we call ours “The Vat” – out from under the counter.
– There are a couple of methods to pop the corn. 1) Put a few tablespoons of oil in it, heat it on medium-high with one kernel in the pot, and when that pops, add enough kernels to make one layer on the bottom of the pot. Cover it and shake until the popping stops. OR 2) Put a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in the pot with ½ cup of popcorn kernels, heat on high and cook covered until the corn stops popping. It should only take a few minutes, just as if it was in the microwave! (If you burn a few kernels at first, don’t get discouraged. Getting it right on the stovetop is worth the effort.)
– When you lift the lid on the pot, BE CAREFUL! The oil is hot. Trust us. We have removed the lid too hastily and gotten a face full of hot popcorn kernel in the past. Ouch.
– Put the popcorn into a big bowl if you’re going to enjoy it soon or place it in an airtight container. This is also a great time to add toppings. Nuts, raisins, a cocoa powder/sugar mix…there are endless combinations and ways to keep the snack healthy. The Popcorn Board has some great ideas and nutrition information.
– In this photo, we used a caramel mix adapted from a recipe in Everyday Food magazine. In a saucepan, melt 3 or 4 tablespoons of butter with 2 tablespoons water, ½ cup of light brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Drizzle it over the popped popcorn and mix it in quickly making sure to coat most of the popcorn. Spray a baking sheet (or two) covered in foil, and bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Every 10 minutes, toss the popcorn and cook for a total of about 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven. After the caramel corn cools, make sure to store it in an airtight container for up to a week (if it lasts that long).
What’s so good about popcorn anyway? Other than its delicious taste and the crunch it makes when you munch on it, popcorn is naturally nutritious. Popcorn has a slight lead on other snacks due to its whole grain goodness and fiber. By itself, popcorn is also naturally low in calories, but mind the higher calorie additions from toppings (anyone prefer movie theater butter?) and cooking oil. The total calories per serving will vary greatly depending on brand and preparation method.
One serving of popcorn is three cups, and that is equivalent to one ounce of whole grains. While that may seem to be a large serving, it’s much smaller than the movie theater containers many of us enjoy. For an interesting read, check out this New York Times article and a related study abstract that describe a scenario where container size influenced moviegoers’ popcorn eating habits. Would YOU eat stale popcorn if it were handed to you at the movies?
We hope we’ve encouraged you to dig out that vat sitting in the cupboard to try and pop your own snack. As always, contact us with questions, comments and ideas at [email protected] or comment right here on the blog! Happy Eating!
How Stacey got the shot: With the digital camera, bounced the flash off the ceiling. ISO 400, 55mm focal length, f/5.6, 1/125 second exposure.