Regardless of the time of year, popcorn is a great snack food. It’s easy, it’s cheap, and if you’re leaving off the movie theater butter, it’s actually pretty healthy.
But this fall give your microwave a break and try your hand at stovetop popping.
“It’s very easy, but it’s surprising because so many people buy microwave popcorn,” Kathy Savoie, University of Maine Cooperative Extension food specialist, said.
When making popcorn from scratch, it’s important to start with the right type of corn. Corn kernels best suited for popping have a higher moisture content to allow for steam to be created when it is heated, which causes the kernel to pop.
Popcorn is a whole grain, so popping a bowl’s worth counts towards meeting the recommended three servings a day of grains. With a recent movement looking to bring Maine-grown grains back to the forefront, Savoie said that locally grown popping corn is becoming more and more available. During the fall, dried popping corn can be found at farmers’ markets.
The tools required for at home stove popping are basic: a sturdy pot and a lid.
Pour a quarter cup of canola or olive oil into the pot and heat over medium-high heat. Throw in three kernels initially to test if the oil is hot enough to pop the kernels. Once those kernels pop, add two-thirds of a cup of kernels and place the lid on the pot.
Shake the pot often to ensure the popcorn does not scorch and once the popping has subsided remove from heat.
While the popcorn can be enjoyed without topping, or simply with butter, jazzing it up with a hint of sweetness or cheesiness doesn’t take much effort.
For a sweet and savory kettle corn, add three tablespoons of melted butter, two tablespoons of honey and one teaspoon of salt to the hot popcorn and mix together. For a cheese popcorn, add three tablespoons of melted butter to the popcorn and add parmesan cheese to taste.
The possible popcorn toppings are as endless as your taste buds, so once you’ve got the stove top technique down, have fun trying out different add-ons.
This story was originally published in Bangor Metro’s October 2017 issue. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.