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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Popcorn

Popcorn is the all round, ideal snack made popular by movie theaters but a staple of North American life well before that. The only kind of corn that pops is Zea mays everta, a special kind of flint corn. As with all good things methods were developed to automate the popping of corn with the first steam-powered popper developed by Charlie Cretors in 1885. In 1959 ConAgra Foods began marketing JiffyPop® a prepackaged ready to pop corn using an aluminum pan covered with a folded aluminum foil lid that expanded as the corn popped. Enterprising manufactures came out with hot air poppers and finally microwaveable bags however, they have never really replaced the best way to cook popcorn. Pre-packaged ready to pop microwave popcorn has been implicated as a potential health risk, something to consider when there are easier ways to make your favourite snack.

Popcorn is a family favourite here with hot buttered popcorn being the most popular. While I have used many other methods for popping corn, the one I like the best is the Whirley popper pictured here. A Whirley popper is an aluminum pot with a clip on two hinged lid. The centre mechanism is geared so that when you turn the handle the stirring rod extending from the lid to the bottom of the pan turns to prevent burning. Popcorn made in a Whirley popper is tender and crispy. You can make at least twice the amount can be made than in a standard microwave popcorn bag in only three minutes! Who can resist the smell of freshly made, hot popcorn?

Popped

Method: Pour about 2 tbsp of vegetable oil into the pot and add one popping corn kernel. Cover the pot and place over heat on medium. When the kernel pops pour in about 1 cup of popping corn. Cover then turn the crank handle of the Whirley popper until the corn finishes popping. It will be a little stiffer to pop as the pot fills. If you do not have a Whirley popper, gently shake the covered pot until corn finishes popping. Do not allow the corn to scortch or burn as that will ruin the entire batch. Remove from heat. Pour popped corn into large serving bowl. Top with your favourite popcorn topping if desired.

For hot buttered popcorn: Melt about 1/3 c of butter. Slowly pour the butter over the popcorn while gently tossing the popcorn in the bowl. Sprinkle a little salt over top. Gently toss to mix the butter and salt into the popcorn.

Hot & Buttery

Did you know that popcorn is good for you? Plain, air popped corn has only 31 calories and 1.2 g fiber per cup. Oil popped corn has 55 calories and 1.2 g fiber per cup. So if you eat it plain, it is a low calorie, low fat filling snack. But you don't have to eat it plain! As mentioned we like it simple with melted butter and salt. Parmesan cheese sprinkled over hot popcorn is another good topping that packs a lot of flavour without adding a lot of calories. The other day I was doing a little stocking-up shopping and noticed in the spice aisle there were several different varieties of popcorn toppings in shaker bottles!

Be sure to check back as I will be post my tried, true and ever so good recipe for caramel corn next week. This is a must have recipe!

Some fun facts:

  • a kernel that doesn't pop is called an Old Maid
  • during the Depression popcorn sold for 5 to 10 cents per bag making it a luxury item
  • popcorn consumption was three times higher during World War II because sugar was being sent overseas
  • Nebraska and Indiana are the top producers for popping corn
  • six locality claim to be Popcorn Capitol of the World (Valparaiso, Indiana; Van Buren, Indiana; Marion, Ohio; Ridgway, Illinois; Schaller, Iowa; and North Loup, Nebraska)
  • popcorn is the official state snack of Illinois
  • peak sales for home consumption of popcorn is in the fall
  • the number one use for microwave ovens is popping corn; many newer microwave ovens have a popcorn button
  • a kernel of corn can pop 3 feet into the air


4 food lovers commented:

DineometerDeb said...

You know I just made some popcorn on the stove top last night. I was thinking of how long it takes to make on the stove (< 5 minutes)compared to making it in the microwave and I began to feel really lazy for making microwave popcorn all these years. If there are health risks as you suggest, then I definitely won't be buying microwave again. Plus, it is so much cheaper.

Garden Gnome said...

Stovetop popcorn is just so easy to make in the same amount of time or less than microwave popcorn. An added bonus is you create less garbage from packaging as well as realizing the money savings. The health concerns supercede the over packaging of microwave popcorn. The flavouring in microwave popcorn contains diacetyl that has been linked to workers inhaling the fumes while testing bags of microwave popcorn. So this is likely one of those things that might be better to avoid until further research has been done. From an environmental perspective, microwave popcorn is definitely something to avoid. Besides popping corn on the stovetop smells so good!

GardenMom said...

I just got a Whirley-Pop for Christmas. It is pretty neat. I look forward to checking out your recipes for different flavors of popcorn. I did a post on popping my own popcorn on my blog. It is http://gardenmom29.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-new-popcorn-popper.html I'm all about making my own food now, instead of buying the processed stuff.

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Gardenmom and thanks for visiting. The Whirley-Pop makes considerably better popcorn than microwave popcorn and you don't get all the nasty chemicals.