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In my home, popcorn is the king of snacks. My children find it irresistible, my husband craves it, and I can’t get sufficient of it. We even have 4 devoted popcorn bowls — larger-than-reasonable ones — so we are able to every have our personal and don’t need to share. I don’t thoughts this sort of large-volume snacking; I be ok with the truth that we’re all having fun with a whole-grain snack.
Although I used to purchase numerous flavored microwave popcorn, I’ve stopped in favor of popping my very own. It’s cheaper and leaves me answerable for the sodium, sugar, and taste. Plus, my husband now likes to do the popping, so I can simply sit again and wait to reap the scrumptious rewards. He has his go-to methodology of popping in a big pot, however there are such a lot of different ways in which folks swear are one of the best. I put eight of these strategies to the check to see what I might study.
A Few Notes About Methodology
Popcorn: I used two varieties of popcorn to check every methodology — a regular white corn selection (Orville Redenbacher’s) and an natural yellow corn selection (Arrowhead Mills) — to see if there have been any notable variations in the best way they carried out. I discovered them to be constantly related in efficiency, popping to almost equivalent volumes with every check. Flavor-wise, the natural yellow corn popcorn had a barely deeper corn taste.
Tests: As famous above, I examined every methodology twice: as soon as with every sort of popcorn (one methodology obtained examined 3 times). I averaged the findings — cook dinner time, popped quantity, and quantity of unpopped kernels.
Time: I recorded solely the cook dinner time for every methodology and didn’t issue within the period of time to measure the kernels, oil, or seasonings, or to arrange any tools.
Ratings: I rated every methodology on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing perfection. My scores are based mostly on a large number of things, together with the style and texture of the popcorn, the quantity of unpopped kernels, ease of the strategy, issue or ease of cleanup, and security.
One methodology not examined: Before you ask, I didn’t check popping in an air fryer. I used to be involved about the opportunity of kernels popping up into and clogging the air vents. (The photograph about two-thirds down this page scared me off.)
Popcorn Method: Instant Pot Popcorn
About This Method: This user-generated recipe on the Instant Pot web site instructs you to warmth the pot by turning it to “sauté” and ready till the show reads “hot” (for me, this took about 3 minutes). You then add 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon butter, and 1/2 cup popcorn kernels; stir them round for a minute; and high the pot with a glass lid. (The recipe provides a useful tip that even in case you don’t have the official Instant Pot glass lid, you’ll be able to in all probability discover a glass lid in your kitchen that can work.) You then wait for the popping to escalate after which decelerate, uncover the pot, and season the popcorn.
Results: Both instances, I ended up with just a little over 6 cups of popped popcorn (from 1/2 cup kernels) and about 3 1/2 tablespoons of unpopped kernels — almost half of them. The popcorn that did pop was crisp and attractive, however there simply wasn’t sufficient of it. I wouldn’t use this methodology once more; it simply left an excessive amount of of the popcorn unpopped. When I went again to learn the recipe opinions, I noticed that I wasn’t the one one with that drawback.
Popcorn Method: Microwave Popcorn (in a Brown Paper Bag)
About This Method: This methodology from (*8*) begins by tossing 1/2 cup popcorn kernels with 1/2 teaspoon oil and salt to style in a bowl, then pouring that combination right into a paper lunch bag, sealing the ends and corners, and microwaving on excessive for about 2 minutes (the time will differ based mostly in your microwave’s wattage). The writeup warns about the opportunity of scorching the popcorn or virtually catching the bag on hearth (!), and suggests stopping the cooking shortly after the popping simply begins to gradual to scale back the danger of a snack catastrophe.
Results: For my microwave, 2 minutes wasn’t lengthy sufficient; the popcorn had barely began popping at that time. I ended up going for about 2 1/2 minutes and pulling the popcorn when there have been about 4 seconds between pops. At that time, the half-cup of kernels had popped to a quantity of about 11 cups (with 2 tablespoons unpopped kernels), and the popcorn was fluffy and crisp. It did, nonetheless, have the slightest burned taste, regardless of no seen proof of burning or scorching. My husband loved the “smoky” taste of the popcorn, however the children and I weren’t followers. Because microwaves differ a lot, it takes a good little bit of trial and error to get this methodology proper. Your popcorn can go from excellent to scorched in a matter of seconds. Luckily, there are simpler, much less irritating strategies that produce extra scrumptious outcomes.
Popcorn Method: Microwave Popcorn (in a Bowl)
About This Method: This Good Housekeeping recipe calls for mixing 1/4 cup popcorn kernels and 1/2 teaspoon oil in a medium microwave-safe glass bowl, protecting the bowl with a plate, and microwaving on excessive for 3 to 4 minutes — till there are 3 seconds between pops.
Results: My 1/4 cup of kernels popped to a quantity of 6 cups with 1 tablespoon of unpopped kernels. It wasn’t the crispiest of the batches, but it surely was nonetheless fairly crisp, gentle, and fluffy. For me, this microwave methodology labored significantly better than the paper bag methodology. I preferred that I might serve the popcorn straight from the bowl and that I didn’t need to anxiously monitor the microwave because the popcorn cooked; it was just about hands-free.
Popcorn Method: Microwave Popcorn (in a Silicone Bag)
About This Method: Another author for Kitchn had reviewed this method already, and now it was my flip to pit it in opposition to all these different strategies. I adopted the directions supplied by Stasher, the maker of reusable silicone baggage you’ll be able to retailer and cook dinner meals in: Combine 1/2 cup popcorn kernels, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and a few salt (I used 1/2 teaspoon) within the 56-ounce–capability Stand-Up bag; go away the bag partially open to vent; microwave on High for 2 to three minutes or till popping slows.
Results: For my preliminary two assessments, I needed to go the total three minutes in my 1100-watt microwave. The bag was fully filled with popped corn that measured roughly 10 cups, with 2 tablespoons of unpopped kernels. I didn’t love having that many unpopped kernels, so I made a decision to see what would occur if I used a smaller quantity of popcorn. So I began with 1/3 cup kernels, microwaved for 2 1/2 minutes, and obtained 8 1/2 cups of popcorn with just one tablespoon of unpopped kernels. I preferred having fewer duds (much less wasted meals). Although the bag will get scorching and also you’re cautioned to make use of oven mitts when opening it, I discovered that the facet seams stayed cool, so I used to be in a position to safely maintain the bag there with out mitts.
My Takeaway: This is a straightforward methodology that’s neat and tidy, as you’ll be able to simply toss the Stasher bag proper within the dishwasher after consuming from it. So in case you have one already, by all means put it to make use of for fast and simple snacks. If you don’t have a Stasher bag readily available, you probably wouldn’t remorse getting one — as a result of it wouldn’t be a single-use merchandise anyway (in contrast to among the different tools reviewed right here). Expect to have a good quantity of unpopped kernels, however know that that’s the value of comfort.
Popcorn Method: Stovetop Popcorn
About This Method: For this method, Cook’s Illustrated tells you to warmth 3 tablespoons oil and three popcorn kernels in a lined 4-quart pan over medium warmth. When you hear a kernel pop, you then add 1/3 cup kernels, cowl the pot, and wait 30 seconds earlier than returning it to medium warmth. When the popping begins, you shake the pan with the lid barely ajar till the popping slows to 1 to 2 seconds between pops. The declare is that you just’ll get fewer unpopped kernels and run a low threat of scorching as a result of when the “test kernels” pop you recognize the oil is at the correct temperature. And that 30-second break? It “allows all of the kernels to gradually heat to the same temperature — so they pop almost simultaneously.”
Results: The 1/3 cup of kernels popped to about 8 1/2 cups of fluffy, largely crisp popcorn with a tiny little bit of chewiness within the chew. I ended up with 1 teaspoon of unpopped kernels. While I didn’t fairly expertise that simultaneous popping that the strategy touts, I did love this methodology for the fluffy, crisp outcomes it produced. The illustrations within the Cook’s Illustrated piece present a long-handled saucepan; since I don’t have a 4-quart saucepan, I used a stainless-steel Dutch oven as an alternative. The comparatively gentle weight of the pan made shaking throughout popping simple, though shaking with the lid barely ajar was a tad awkward. If you’ll be utilizing a forged iron Dutch oven for this methodology, be ready for a exercise.
Popcorn Method: Air-Popped Popcorn
About This Method: I used the Presto PopLite popper and adopted the directions of their tutorial video: Pour 1/2 cup kernels into the popping chamber (utilizing the unit’s measuring cup/cowl), place the quilt and measuring cup in place, prepare a big bowl underneath the chute to catch the popcorn, plug within the unit, then unplug it as soon as the kernels are popped.
Results: I ended up with a whopping 15 cups of popcorn from the 1/2 cup of kernels I began with, and just one/4 teaspoon of unpopped kernels. The popcorn wasn’t fairly as crisp, but it surely was fluffy and lightweight.
My Takeaway: This was the one methodology I examined that required no oil, so if you’d like lighter popcorn, this can be a nice methodology. (And in case you don’t, you’ll be able to all the time toss in some melted butter.) It felt just like the most secure methodology I attempted (no threat of burning your self), one which you possibly can put children in control of — in case you’re OK with them plugging in an equipment. Even in the event that they don’t plug within the machine, they’ll little doubt take pleasure in watching the popcorn rise in quantity and cascade out of the chute into the bowl. Other execs: The popper does all of the work for you and there’s mainly no cleanup. The solely draw back was the popcorn had a slight chewiness to it, but it surely was nonetheless actually good.
Popcorn Method: Wok-Popped Popcorn
About This Method: I adopted the essential popping directions on this New York Times recipe, with out making the spice combine. The recipe has you place 2 tablespoons of oil and some check kernels in a 14-inch wok, then cowl the pan and warmth over medium. As quickly as you hear a kernel pop, you pour in 6 tablespoons of kernels, cowl the pan, cut back the warmth to medium-low, and cook dinner — shaking the wok continuously — till the kernels cease popping.
Results: From a place to begin of 6 tablespoons of kernels, I ended up with 9 cups of popped corn that was fluffy and particularly crunchy. For this methodology, I solely had 1/2 teaspoon unpopped kernels.
My Takeaway: If you’ve got a long-handled wok (ideally a light-weight carbon-steel mannequin) with a lid, this can be a incredible methodology for you. For one, the deal with makes shaking the pan very simple and pure, with out taxing your arm the best way that another strategies do. Second, cleanup is straightforward; simply rinse and wipe. Third, the wok design appears notably well-suited to this job: the large funnel form helps maintain the kernels and oil within the hottest a part of the pan. Finally, because the recipe factors out, “making popcorn adds more patina to your wok,” serving to to boost its nonstick qualities.
Popcorn Method: Whirley Pop Popcorn
About This Method: First, in case you’re unfamiliar with a Whirley Pop popcorn maker, it’s a pot with a crank deal with and a hinged, vented lid. The crank controls an arm with two paddles that run parallel to the underside of the pot and stir the popcorn. I used the directions listed within the Whirley Pop Shop’s FAQ section: Add 1/2 cup popcorn kernels and 1 to three tablespoons oil (I used 2) to the pot. Arrange the lid on the pot, and warmth over medium warmth. Slowly flip the crank till the popcorn begins to pop after which slows, or till the crank turns into laborious to show.
Results: Tied with the air popper, this methodology left me with the fewest unpopped kernels (solely 4 or 5) and the very best quantity of popcorn (15 cups from 1/2 cup kernels). The popping went extremely quick, and you possibly can actually really feel when it was time to cease cooking; the crank grew to become discernibly more durable to show. The popcorn was the fluffiest and crunchiest of all of the strategies, with a wealthy, buttery taste (with out utilizing any precise butter — simply oil). This methodology was incredible on all accounts: The popcorn was probably the most scrumptious, the strategy was ridiculously quick, the popper felt protected and simple to make use of, and, possibly better of all, the method was very, very enjoyable. And you may make fairly a present of pouring the popcorn out of the hinged lid.
Most of those strategies work simply superb. Everyone could have a favourite, after all, based mostly on what they grew up with or realized at a pivotal level of their cooking explorations. I used to be delighted to expertise the thrill of the Whirley Pop. Although I don’t have a ton of space for storing in my kitchen, I’m gladly clearing a spot for this piece of apparatus. I can’t wait to make use of it once more; it’s going to make household film evening really feel much more particular. If you’ve got younger children —and/otherwise you want your popcorn cooked with out oil — you’d do properly to make the small funding in an air popper, which can present a great deal of wholesome leisure. Wok-owners, don’t sleep on wok-popped popcorn, with its added good thing about deepening that coveted patina. And, hey, in case you have a pot or a glass bowl, you’re in good arms, too.