Saturday, 5 June 2010

The Lost Art of Popping

I can’t remember not knowing how to pop popcorn.  We had it as snacks occasionally at home and Mom always brought a big paper bag full with us when we went to the drive in movie as a family.  Between the popcorn and her fried chicken, I used to feel sorry for the people who bought food from the concession stand.

Popping corn is actually a bit difficult to find here in Britain; everyone seems to use microwave popcorn, which is massively more expensive.   In browsing through my Tightwad Gazette newsletters, the very first issue she published had a cover story about popcorn.  She had a race with her husband to see whether the microwave popcorn was really any quicker; of course it wasn’t.  I developed a trick to make even bigger bunches of popcorn, which I’m about to share with you.

Take a pan with a handle and a lid that fits securely even when shaken.  If you have to hold the lid on when shaking, it’s a bit trickier.  Put just enough oil in to cover the bottom of the pan.  Pour in enough kernels to cover the oil with about two or three layers of corn.  Judging the amount of corn is the toughest part, better to err on the lesser side if in doubt.  I shake it just a bit to coat the kernels with oil and then leave it to heat up.  Once it starts popping, I shake it occasionally, but not constantly.  I’m guessing the purpose of shaking is to help the un-popped kernels get down into the oil so they can cook.   I shake the pan more frequently as the popping gets faster.  If I’ve done my usual trick of putting too much popcorn in (usually on purpose), the popped corn will begin to push the lid off.  I have a big bowl handy and whip the lid off and pour off the top half of popped kernels into it.  It has to be done very quickly to avoid popcorn going everywhere, mind!  That’s half the fun, though, I think.    When it all slows to only the occasional pop, turn off the heat and remove the pan from the hot burner.  I only put salt (and too much, at that) on my popped corn; the oil is enough flavouring for me, though I used to add melted butter years and years ago.  In my opinion, popcorn is a perfect frugal snack, though I do try not to have it too often, given the number of calories it has.

What sort of snacks do you have around your house?


Rick Stone said...

Ice cream, and plenty of it. Although it is more expensive, we buy the pint size cartons. In my way of thinking a pint is just the right single serving size and we more variety of flavors that way.

Shelley said...

Ice cream is a snack? Dessert, maybe. I confess to being a former addict of Hagen Daz, but that was long ago. At least it's a dairy product with calcium...

Anonymous said...

I've never made popcorn w/o microwave & neither did my mother. So I've never had homemade popcorn. I'm sure it's delicious!

I don't usually buy snacks so we really don't have much in that category at home. I do like pastries and tarts though. =)

Struggler said...

I admit I've only ever used microwave popcorn.
My idea of a snack is anything left unguarded in the fridge; I'm a big fan of cheese but it's not exactly a diet-friendly choice!