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Generally Recognized As True: Making movie theatre popcorn at home

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Making movie theatre popcorn at home

Microwave popcorn may be convenient, but there are a lot of unknowns lurking in that bag of mystery joy. For one, they have to use some kind of cooking oil that's solid and stable at room temperature, yet melts when under heat. And, it can't have lots of saturated fat because the label on the box wouldn't look very good. So, it'll be a franken-fat of some kind that's been modified every which way to suit a nutritional and taste profile based on ingredients that suit the manufacturing process well and have a good shelf life. Healthfulness will be the last consideration because it's the least visible ("good" nutritional labels, in my mind, are not necessarily equivalent to healthy food).

You could air pop your popcorn, but who really wants to eat that crap?

It's actually very easy to make movie theatre-style popcorn at home, and it'll be a lot more realistic than microwave "movie theatre" popcorn because it mimics the same process that they use in the theatre (and uses the same ingredients). It's a bit more time consuming, but you learn a few things and save quite a bit of money over microwave popcorn (buying popcorn kernels is very cheap!).

So, you need:


  • 1/4 cup popping corn

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (don't bother with the unrefined stuff because it adds a coconutty taste to the popcorn -- unless you like it like that)

  • 1 tsp butter salt (you can get this at places like Bulk Barn in the spice area)

Put a large saucepan on the stove and preheat it on a medium heat. I use a stainless steel one; non-stick may not tolerate the heat involved, which would be dangerous, but I haven't tried it. Once it gets hot, add the coconut oil and let it heat for about 10 seconds (if it's not that warm in the house, the coconut oil may be solid, so let it melt before continuing). Add the butter salt and swish it around to make the butter salt dissolve into the oil.

At this point, take a few kernels of popping corn and put them in the saucepan. Remember how many you put in. Put the lid on. Now you want to wait until you hear all of the kernels you put in pop. This will tell you that the oil is at the right temperature. So, wait for the test kernels to pop. Once they do, add the rest of the popping corn and put the lid on.

Once the popping corn is in the saucepan, you have to keep the corn moving. So, every 10 seconds or so, give the saucepan a swirl (don't take the lid off -- just give the pan a bit of a swirl). Once the corn starts to pop, keep moving the saucepan as before and add a few shakes now and again to get the unpopped kernels to sink back to the bottom. Keep doing this until the popping slows down such that you're not getting much more than about 1 pop per second.

The saucepan will be very hot at this point. Carefully take off the lid (don't put your face over the pan because some last-minute kernels may pop into your face) and dump the contents into a popcorn bowl. You're done!

Notes:


  • Once you've done it once or twice, you can adjust the amount of salt as needed, or experiment with other oil flavourings such as regular salt. I wouldn't use straight butter because it will burn. But, you could always melt some butter and drizzle it on after popping.

  • Coconut oil is something I consider healthy and a digestive aid, but it is also nearly 100% saturated fat. Personally, I don't care because this type of fat has a far greater history of human use as a cooking oil than, say, Canola oil and it goes down very easily. It's very easily handled by your digestive system and so is turned into readily-available energy rather than being stored as fat. However, you can get away with using Canola oil. Movie theatres use coconut oil, so you'll lose an important part of the taste by doing this. I wouldn't use olive oil because it will probably burn.

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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Extremely helpful! I'm going to try it when I get home from work!

Alice said...

Oh, I just tried it! Delicious! Thanks for posting!

Jenny Mertes said...

I know this is an old blog post, but I wanted to weigh in because I make it this way too, kind of. I use a Whirly-Pop and the orange popcorn oil, plus some coconut oil, popcorn salt, and popcorn kernels. I don't preheat the pan - I just throw it all in and set the pan on the flame, and it works great. I wouldn't eat popcorn any other way. Air popped? Blech!

Jenny Mertes said...

I know this is an old blog post, but I wanted to weigh in because I make it this way too, kind of. I use a Whirly-Pop and the orange popcorn oil, plus some coconut oil, popcorn salt, and popcorn kernels. I don't preheat the pan - I just throw it all in and set the pan on the flame, and it works great. I wouldn't eat popcorn any other way. Air popped? Blech!