Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Popcorn is an Inexpensive Treat and for Many a “Comfort” Food

What do I with all the popcorn I've stored? 

Stove Top Popcorn:

Hints for getting the best popped corn
Don't pop popcorn in butter as the butter will burn before it can get hot enough.  Popcorn pops best in temperatures of 400-460 degrees F.  If your oil starts to smoke which happens at 500 degrees F, you've got it too hot.  Any oil will work.  Use enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
To see if you have the oil hot enough, drop a couple of kernels into the hot oil.  If it's hot enough, they should pop in just a few seconds.  If you don't have a popper, any thick bottomed, high walled pan will do.  Popcorn can even be easily made in a Dutch oven over a camp fire.  When your oil is the right temperature, pour in your popcorn, shaking the pan to cover all the seeds in oil.  Do this with the lid on to prevent burns should the hot oil try to splash out of the pan.  Using a lid helps the kernels to heat more evenly and keeps the popping corn from flying all over the place.  If you are using a popcorn popper, shaking it isn't necessary because of it's rounded bottom.  As it begins popping, it's important to continue to shake a flat-bottomed pan.  When the popping slows and becomes sparse, remove the pan from the heat, and empty the popped popcorn into a large bowl.
Popcorn Fixes:
Popcorn must have about 14% moisture to pop properly.  This is because as the popcorn kernel is heated, the moisture inside the seed is turned to steam creating a huge inner pressure.  As this pressure continues past the shell's strength to keep it in, the skin ruptures and the inner starchy layer of the kernel greatly expands and turns itself inside out.  If the moisture isn't there, this pressure build-up can't happen.  If you find your popcorn has excessive old maids (un-popped kernels) in it, the problem might be that it lacks moisture. Rejuvenation - Place 3 cups of un-popped popcorn into a quart bottleAdd a tablespoon of water, put the lid on and shake it to get water on all the kernels.  If the water puddles in the bottom of the bottle, shake it again every 10 minutes until enough of the water has been absorbed to prevent puddling.  Now let it sit for two or three days while the moisture is evenly distributed into the kernels.  If it still doesn't pop correctly, repeat this process but add no more than 2 teaspoons of water the second time.

Burnt popcorn: Most likely your heat is too high.  Each stove is different so don't give up; just try adjusting your temperature.  Also, the kernels could have heated unevenly.  Be certain to keep the pan moving when popping popcorn on top of the stove.

Soggy popcorn: If the lid fits too tightly and the steam can't escape, it will settle back on the popped kernels. Use a loose-fitting or vented lid.  Always take the lid off as soon as the popping stops.

Small, under-popped kernels: You may not have used enough oil in your pan. The oil conducts the heat and helps the kernels to pop, but too much oil can make kernels greasy.

Source: USA Emergency Supply

Popcorn Facts:
  • According to the Popcorn Board - Americans consume about 13 gallons per person per year.
  • A typical popcorn kernel expanded about 35 times in volume when it was cooked.

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