Several years ago, a close friend corrected a false assumption of mine when she explained that popping popcorn from scratch (kernels, oil, the whole deal) was nothing but a fine art.
Previously, I had always been satisfied (or so I thought) by the microwaveable variety, with its tongue-numbing saltiness and suspiciously yellow hue. Little did I know that my popcorn-making world would be irreversibly rocked when she taught me her dad’s secret recipe.
Here are a few key steps from Mr. Newton’s recipe for perfect popcorn from scratch (recipe is below):
1. Preheat the oil. The recipe calls for a few kernels to be heated in the oil prior to the addition of the remaining kernels. This ensures that your oil is at the optimal temperature when you add the popcorn, resulting in an even pop and no burnt kernels.
2. Release the steam. By cracking the lid just slightly a couple of times during the popping process, you allow steam to escape, preventing the disappointment of soggy popcorn. Yuck.
3. “Mary Janes.” Well, this one isn’t a step, exactly. Mary Janes (a term coined, I believe, by my friend’s father) are the undesirable, leftover, unpopped kernels at the bottom of the pot. If you use good quality popcorn and oil and follow the steps below, you will end up with very few, if any, Mary Janes.
- 2-4 T Organic Canola oil (enough to barely cover the bottom of your pot)
- ⅓ cup Organic Popcorn (again, enough to cover the bottom of your pot)
- Place oil and 3 kernels of popcorn in a medium to large stainless steel pot (4-6 quarts is a nice size) with a lid and turn the heat to medium high.
- Wait and listen until all 3 kernels have popped.
- Lift the lid and add ⅓ cup of popcorn (or slightly more) so that you have a single layer of kernels covering the bottom of the pot. Replace lid.
- When popcorn is popping rapidly, lower the heat to medium and lift the lid just slightly to allow some moisture to escape.
- When the popping begins to slow, shake the pot vigorously back and forth several times. Again, crack the lid just slightly to release moisture.
- When popping slows to 1 pop-per-second, turn off the heat and pour the popcorn immediately into a bowl.
- Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt as desired.
Here are a few of my favorite additions to freshly popped popcorn:
1. Keep it simple by drizzling olive oil (or melted butter) over your popcorn and then sprinkling it with salt.
2. My favorite popcorn topping is a mixture of salt, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and garam masala. It is surprisingly good and this is how my friend served it to me after teaching me her dad’s secrets! Experiment with how much of each ingredient suits your taste.
3. For something sweet, try drizzling melted dark chocolate over the top of your popcorn. Then add a little bit of sea salt for a sweet & savory combo.
The possibilities for flavoring homemade popcorn are endless. Let me know what creative combinations are your favorite. Happy popping!
Ingredients to get you started: