Monday, December 20, 2010

There's no stoppin' the poppin'

Popcorn is the ultimate snack.    it's high in carbohydrates, protein and other nutrients, popcorn is one of the healthiest snacks around.  1 cup of dry popcorn only has about 30 calories  . . . so a gallon of popped popcorn is about 400 calories.  I can’t imagine how much butter you would want to dump on a gallon of popcorn . . . top it off with salt?  That would be not-so-healthy.

Popcorn pops because water is stored in a small circle of soft starch in each kernel. As the kernel is heated, the water heats, the droplet of moisture turns to steam and the steam builds up pressure until the kernel finally explodes and turns itself inside out.

In American Indian folklore, some tribes were said to believe that a little demon lived inside of each popcorn kernel. When their houses were heated, the spirits would become angry, and when the heat became unbearable, they blew up.

Making popcorn from scratch isn’t hard but making it so you pop all the kernels and manage to not burn the pan . . . that’s it different story.   I’m not talking about microwaved or air-popped corn; that’s cheating.  I’m talking about cooked on the stovetop in oil popping . . . oh yeah, that’s the stuff!

Let’s pop!

What you need:

  • 3 Tbsp Canola, Peanut Or Grapeseed Oil (High Smoke Point Oil)
  • 1/3 Cup Of High Quality Popcorn Kernels
  • 1 3-Quart Covered Saucepan
  • 2 Tbsp Or More (To Taste) Of Butter
  • Salt To Taste

Here’s how you do it:

Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan on medium high heat.

Put a few popcorn kernels into the oil and cover the pan.

When the kernels pop, add the rest of the 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat and count 30 seconds. 
This brings the kernels to a near-popping temperature so that when they are put back on the heat, they all pop at about the same time.
Return the pan to the heat. The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once. Once the popping starts in earnest, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner. Try to keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release (the popcorn will be drier and crisper). 
Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, and dump the popcorn immediately into a wide bowl.
Add butter and salt.   I like to put Parmesan cheese on my popcorn . . . yums!

Makes 2 quarts

Another delicious way to eat popcorn is popcorn balls and they’re easy to make.

What you need:

  • 3/4 Cup Light Corn Syrup
  • 1/4 Cup Margarine
  • 2 Teaspoons Cold Water
  • 2 5/8 Cups Confectioners' Sugar
  • 1 Cup Marshmallows
  • 5 Quarts Plain Popped Popcorn

What to do:

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the corn syrup, margarine, cold water, confectioners' sugar and marshmallows. 
Heat and stir until the mixture comes to a boil. 
Carefully combine the hot mixture with the popcorn, coating each kernel.
Grease hands with vegetable shortening and quickly shape the coated popcorn into balls before it cools. Wrap with cellophane or plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

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