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Making Great PopCorn
#1
I have to confess that I am rediscovering the joy of homemade popcorn. I had gotten away from it, after giving up on the premade microwave packages. They just don't do the job very well for me.

And too, I used to use one of those Presto PowerPoppers, which are perhaps the best microwave popper out there. I've even tried a hot aire popper, but haven't been impressed there either.

But a few decades ago I once had a "Stir Crazy" popper, and it did a great job for me. However, somewhere along the way, I lost sight of it, and it dropped out of my life.

Lately several personalities have been touting the benefits of coconut oil and popping corn the theatre way of doing things. So this time I bought another one of those stir poppers, thinking I was getting another "Stir Crazy". But I wound up getting the Presto clone, which still does a great job of stirring the corn and making for a better pop.

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I went out and bought a 32 ounce jar of LouAnn pure Coconut Oil, and started making nice popcorn. And don't get me wrong, this coconut oil is great for using with popcorn. All the experts say this is the top of the heap.

But I still wanted something better, so I began experimenting a little bit. And I almost immediately came up on what I think is the very best popcorn oil in the world.

I use Extra Virgin Olive Oil for practically everything. I have some peanut and canola oil, but they just never seem to get used. And I buy it either by the two, or three, litre jug from Sams Club.

So I gave the extra virgin olive oil a shot, and Wow! This is the best tasting popcorn I have ever eaten. And I use a Progressive amount of it too, not a tiny bit. It completely covers the corn and when it pops, it has this olive oil flavour all over it.

Has anyone else ever tried olive oil for popping corn? They say using coconut oil helps preserve the freshness of the popcorn, but I always manage to eat it all in one setting. I never keep the popcorn around long enough for that to make any difference. S5
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"INSIDE EVERY PROGRESSIVE IS A TOTALITARIAN SCREAMING TO GET OUT" - David Horowitz

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#2
It is claimed that coconut oil passes through the blood-brain barrier, and directly nourishes brain cells. This has been cited in cases where developing Alzheimer's and senile dementia were halted and even reversed. It is said to improve memory for everyone. I use it instead of margarine when I microwave stir-fry veggies. I prefer the low-fat popcorn, though--weight and diabetes issues dictate that I limit carbs. If we ever get a microwave that is big enough for me to use my microwave popper, where I can put in the oil I choose, I might try extra virgin olive oil. I never imagined that would taste good. Thanks for letting me know otherwise.
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#3
I just want to tell this story about my popcorn making and Gizmo, Mick's little ten pound Shih-tzy. He is not 100% shih-tzu, but has about 25% terrier in the mix. Besides having a 'yapper' that self-detonates at any little thing, he also has a slight under-bite. This causes him to have a lower canine tooth exposed, which makes his smile very expressive.

And he loves my popcorn like there is no tomorrow. I mean he is in rapture, just watching me go through the process. He will sit just outside the kitchen, and watch me very intently, many times with that toothy grin of his. But his eyes are just sparkling as he watches ever move I make.

I remember my childhood at the theatre, watching the popcorn being made, with my eyes as big as saucers. Well, that's Gizmo, and he will never turn down fresh popcorn as I make it. No matter where I am, when he hears me take down the popper from the top of the refrigerator, he comes running.

Today he only had four handfuls of popcorn, but usually he will eat six or seven full handfuls. And to a ten pound shih-tzu, that's a lot of popcorn. But the expression on his face, and the glint in his eyes, along with that toothy little grin, is absolutely priceless. Its like I never give him any, and he is just praying I will decide he deserves just a little bit more.

Its simply one of life's many great moments, where one's children do something that you will always remember. Gizmo, like Charlie, is about six years old, so I should get many more of these great moments out of him. S22
___________________________________________________________________________________________________
"INSIDE EVERY PROGRESSIVE IS A TOTALITARIAN SCREAMING TO GET OUT" - David Horowitz

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#4
(02-21-2013, 06:20 PM)John L Wrote: I have to confess that I am rediscovering the joy of homemade popcorn. I had gotten away from it, after giving up on the premade microwave packages. They just don't do the job very well for me.
Now you did it. I'm going to have to go out and buy me a stir-fry popcorn popper; I'm really getting bored of microwave popcorn. S19 S5
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#5
(03-14-2013, 12:50 PM)Grizzly Wrote:
(02-21-2013, 06:20 PM)John L Wrote: I have to confess that I am rediscovering the joy of homemade popcorn. I had gotten away from it, after giving up on the premade microwave packages. They just don't do the job very well for me.
Now you did it. I'm going to have to go out and buy me a stir-fry popcorn popper; I'm really getting bored of microwave popcorn. S19 S5

The stir machine is really the only way to go IMO. I have several poppers, including the Presto PowerPop, which is probably the best microwave popper. But it is not nearly as good as the stir machines.

There are two basic models out there of the type I use: West Bend Stir Crazy, and Presto Stiring Popper. Hamilton Beach and Waring also have their type. Mine is the Presto, but I must confess that I was looking for the West Bend when I got mine. I had forgotten which brand I had owned a couple of decades ago, and just picked the first one I found.

There is a difference between the West Bend and the Presto. The West Bend is a 1000 watt popper and the Presto is an 800 watt popper. The covers are different in shape too.

On first blush the hotter popper would naturally be the one to get. But there are a whole set of problems here. The higher the heat, the easier it is to burn the popped corn while waiting for the unpopped corn to finally pop.

Here is what I do, and I naturally used my scientific approach to all this, like I tend to do with everything. I don't bother washing the popper, but thoroughly wipe out the unit, including the inside of the cover, using toilet paper. The I plug in the machine, and take my time pouring in the olive oil. I wait for the oil to begin to smoke, and then put in the corn. By waiting for the oil to be at its hottest, and placing the cover on the popper, I ensure the maximum heat. There are other poppers out there, including look-alike small professional poppers. But the type I use is well established and practical.

Now, as the corn starts popping I shake the popper while the corn is popping in order to make certain the unpopped corn is always on the bottom. I do this several times during the popping until almost all of the corn pops. Then I turn the popper over, and unplug the unit.

I manage to pop almost all of my corn, every time. Oh, and I never bother salting the corn in the popper. I always salt the popped corn afterward. I use one of those cheap plastic shopping bags, placed inside a large pan/pot, and apply the butter flavoured salt. Then I tie up the bag, pick it up and shake it well until the salt is evenly distributed. No sense throwing away those bags without using them for something practical, right? S5


Oh, I almost forgot another important thing: the corn. The key to having good popcorn is to keep the most moisture within the corn at all times. If the corn partially dries out it will not pop well.

You can do this a couple of ways. First, you can take the new bag of corn, pour them into a mesh colander, and then rinse it off, before placing in a container. This ensures moisture remaining in the container and entering the corn.

And Second, I take one or two paper towel sheets, fold them into a small square, and then soak it in water. Then I place it in the bottom of my tupperware plastic container, and pour the kernels into the container. The wet paper towel will retain enough water to evenly distribute around the corn. But you have to be careful and use the popcorn fairly soon. Do this because if you allow it to set a long time, the bottom kernels will start sprouting on you.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________
"INSIDE EVERY PROGRESSIVE IS A TOTALITARIAN SCREAMING TO GET OUT" - David Horowitz

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#6
Don't see any mention of the brand/type of popcorn being used.
I know you think you understand what you thought I said,
but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant!
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#7
(03-18-2013, 11:38 AM)JohnWho Wrote: Don't see any mention of the brand/type of popcorn being used.

I just use generic Kroger popcorn, or any other corn that if fresh and priced just right. White or yellow does just fine. The key is to make certain the corn has as much internal moisture as possible. The more water molecules being excited by the heat, the more the pressure to make the corn pop more explosively.

I have almost no whole corn kernels left over, and very little in tiny pops.

I'm a firm believer that all those high priced brands are just that: high priced.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________
"INSIDE EVERY PROGRESSIVE IS A TOTALITARIAN SCREAMING TO GET OUT" - David Horowitz

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#8
Fresh Reddenbacher popcorn seems to be the best pre-packaged microwave popcorn - and when the microwave first came out, popcorn aficionados all agreed the microwave was a huge improvement in popping technology, making better popped and better tasting popcorn. Then the FDA moved in and outlawed the best tasting oils.

It is still fine by me, because I spray the butter spritzer on the kettle-popped stuff to add a bit of good seasoning. Coconut oil is a little too expensive for me, if someone comes out with a coconut-flavored spritzer, I'd be first in line to stock up.
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#9
Again, I've tried all sorts of oils, including the deluxe coconut oils, and I have found extra virgin olive oil to be best for my taste. If you have never tried it, you should.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________
"INSIDE EVERY PROGRESSIVE IS A TOTALITARIAN SCREAMING TO GET OUT" - David Horowitz

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#10
(03-18-2013, 11:56 AM)John L Wrote:
(03-18-2013, 11:38 AM)JohnWho Wrote: Don't see any mention of the brand/type of popcorn being used.

I just use generic Kroger popcorn, or any other corn that if fresh and priced just right. White or yellow does just fine. The key is to make certain the corn has as much internal moisture as possible. The more water molecules being excited by the heat, the more the pressure to make the corn pop more explosively.

I have almost no whole corn kernels left over, and very little in tiny pops.

I'm a firm believer that all those high priced brands are just that: high priced.

While I can't speak about many "gourmet" popping corn brands, I do know from personal experience that at one time Orville Redenbachers and Pop Weaver's (much less expensive at the time) popcorn was discernibly better than generic brands including Pop Secret. The popped corn appeared slightly larger, fluffier, and had less hulls material.

Maybe the industry has caught up with Pop and good ole' Orville?
I know you think you understand what you thought I said,
but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant!
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#11
Popcorn is really interesting because it generates so much conversation. JW, you hit on three of the main characteristics of a pop corn: texture/fluffiness, size of pop, and hull. But several things really determine them.

Size - Basically two things determine the size of the popped corn. Those have to be initial size of unpopped kernels, and the explosive force within the corn. The former is genetic engineering for bigger kernels, but after a certain point, the yield of the cob reaches a productive ceiling as to how many of the over sized kernels it can hold. The later depends on moisture content of the individual kernels. And that is something only you can keep at its best. If the kernels are not kept humidified enough, they will tend to dry out and not pop as explosively as they can under ideal conditions.

Texture/fluffiness - If the gourmet brands have some secret kernels that are more heavenly than others, unless their crops are sterile, they have been reproduced by the competition and any leg up is no longer there. But the one thing I suspect that makes the most difference in texture, is the explosive force of the pop, and the amount of moisture throughout the kernel. Again, moisture would be the key here.

Husk/hull - I've had all sorts of popcorn, including some great theatre corn, and all of them have husks. Husks/hulls are what protects the kernel from the elements, and also retains moisture within the kernel. If the hull is too thin, it won't last in the open. I haven't heard of any scientific papers describing any breakthroughs in thinner hulls.

If there are any real breakthroughs in the future, I'd be curious to know how this is done. But pop corn is unique in that it will pop, and a pod corn won't. Perhaps something important will come out in the near future. But until then, I consider keeping the corn moist as the most important thing to guarantee best results. Nobody seems to think of this, but I remember reading about it about twenty years ago. And it really makes sense. Anyone who has had a course in chemistry can immediately see the implications of all those hyper-excited molecules of H2O generating all that pressure on the hull of each kernel.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________
"INSIDE EVERY PROGRESSIVE IS A TOTALITARIAN SCREAMING TO GET OUT" - David Horowitz

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#12
Has anyone ever tried to pop Amaranth seeds/kernels? I read that the Incas used to pop it. The Spanish Conquistadors outlawed it, because of the way they used it in their religious rites (that involved human sacrifice). But Amaranth is not illegal. It probably does not pop as big and fluffy as popcorn. But the high protein content of Amaranth should make it taste interesting.
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#13
Never tried it before, but I found this video to explain how to do it. From what I can tell, it can easily make a mess because they jump all over the place.

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"INSIDE EVERY PROGRESSIVE IS A TOTALITARIAN SCREAMING TO GET OUT" - David Horowitz

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#14
Thanks, John L, that was fascinating. But there was also quite a bit of cleanup of all those little tiny popped Amaranth seeds that jumped out all over the place. I wonder if a Stir Crazy popper would work with it. Gotta have stirring, and gotta have a lid.
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#15
Yeah, I suspect popping regular pop corn in that manner would also cause a mess.
I know you think you understand what you thought I said,
but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant!
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#16
Popped Amaranth looks a little like puffed millet. I'm guessing it would probably taste better than puffed millet, if done right.
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#17
(03-19-2013, 04:41 AM)John L Wrote: Never tried it before, but I found this video to explain how to do it. From what I can tell, it can easily make a mess because they jump all over the place.

I'm sure that tastes good but I hate cleaning messes up. I'm sticking to popcorn. S5
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#18
I always prefer quantity. Portion control is fine and dandy, but if you like popcorn, and the guy on the video says amaranth tastes like micro-popcorn, why not eat popcorn?
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