Are you seeking that real at-the-movies popcorn flavour? Or is your palette calling out for a quick, sumptuous and nutritious snack? In any case, this essential beginning to end guide will show you how to perfectly transform your corn kernels into traditional heart-warming and professional-tasting popcorn.
Like all magnificent things, making popcorn is very simple. Your first task is to source good quality kernels (available from all good supermarkets and most health food shops) and decide how many you are cooking for. For portions, I tend to measure 2 medium handfuls per person, but another technique is to simply estimate. We all know roughly how big popcorn is, just remember this simple rule: 1 kernel is 1 popcorn.
Now for the fun part – topping-time! Want to keep it traditional? Then sugar or salt is for you. I like to add a high quality granulated sugar or a fresh sea salt for extra depth and character to the taste. If you fancy playing with flavours though, then by all means be as experimental as you dare. Cheese and sweet chilli lend themselves perfectly to popcorn for those who favour savoury flavours. And for those with a sweet tooth, well, where to start? I’d suggest diving in with crushed macadamia nuts, melted milk or white chocolate – or why not drizzle both?
Cooking the Corn
With the rise of microwave popularity, more and more people are cooking ready-made shop-bought popcorn straight from the bag – don’t! You can cook healthier, more fluffy and plump popcorn from scratch using your microwave or a hob, and here’s how.
On the Hob
Grab your largest saucepan with a lid – preferably transparent so you can enjoy the show – then drizzle the bottom with oil before slavering it evenly around the pan’s inner-sides. I find kitchen-role works wonders for this.
Now toss in your kernels, crank your stove to a medium heat, then place the pan over it and quickly apply your lid. Shortly after, you will hear the kernels popping themselves inside out and readying themselves for the feast, but beware! Under no circumstances should you remove the lid during this process.
Only do so when the noise has died down to 1 pop per second signalling your corn is cooked. Now carefully remove the lid before gently, evenly and liberally sprinkling in the flavour of your choice. And serve.
With the Microwave
Simply place half a cup of corn kernels in a large microwave-safe bowl – typically I use a Pyrex bowl but any will suffice. Now add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil, cover the corn with a microwave-safe plate ensuring there is an air-gap to allow the air to circulate. Now zap on high power for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the majority of the kernels have popped. Add your flavourings and enjoy!
Please note, cooking times will vary depending on your microwave, however, if you find a bundle of kernels that have not popped then simply whizz them through the microwave until they are fat and fluffy and perfect.
So Which Way Is Best?
Pull out your pan and pop that corn! While microwaving keeps the process tidy, cooking times are unpredictable and popping-ratios are low meaning it’s easy to unevenly cook your corn. Any chef worth their salt will tell you the key to good food is consistency, so stick to the 1 second rule with pan cooking and you’re plain-sailing. Also, select your oil carefully!
Which Oil Then?
As a popcorn enthusiast I have used a wide range of cooking oils, but for the most crisp, clean, healthy and portly corn, very few come close in quality than coconut oil. More specifically, Lucy Bee Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.
It offers a subtle coconut fragrance, is 100% organic, raw and fair-trade, but also free from gluten, lactose and cholesterol while being vegetarian and vegan approved – so perfect for all of your family and friends.
It is somewhat costly however, so if you’re watching the purse-strings look no further than the Viva Labs Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.
Although it costs less, it yields very similar results with the same fresh fragrance and exotic taste as any other coconut oil I have tried.