I’ve been eating a lot of popcorn lately, but I feel guilty every time I toss one of the microwave bags in the trash. I’d never made popcorn on the stove before, but weighing out the benefits of stovetop popcorn and the drawbacks of microwave popcorn inspired me to make the switch.
Drawbacks to microwavable popcorn:
- Microwavable bags cannot be recycled. They’re destined for landfill.
- Artificial butter flavouring is bad for your health. This column from Treehugger discusses a respiratory condition known as “popcorn lung”, caused by inhaling the artificial flavouring. If it’s bad to inhale, it’s bad to consume.
Benefits of stovetop popcorn:
- Less packaging.
- It’s a fun activity for kids, or kids at heart. I couldn’t help but giggle as the kernels started to pop in earnest.
- The taste is remarkably different from microwave popcorn: it tastes real, not filmy and synthetic like the popcorn coated in “butter flavouring” you get in many microwavable bags.
- You have the freedom to choose how much you make.
- It’s cost effective. We bought a 2kg bag of kernels for under $3, when you can easily pay $5 for one quarter as many grams of microwave popcorn.
If I’ve convinced you to give stovetop popcorn a chance, look no further for a foolproof recipe. Seriously, if I can do it, you can too.
Cook time: 5 – 10 minutes
- vegetable oil, or whatever oil you have on-hand.
- butter and salt to taste (optional)
1 ) Grab a pot or pan with a lid. Put just the pan on medium-high heat.
2 ) Pour oil into the pan until you have a thin, unbroken later of oil covering the bottom.
3 ) Throw a few kernels into the oil.
4 ) When the kernels pop, move the pan away from the heat.
5 ) Pour the desired amount of kernels into the pan, making sure they lay in one single layer. If you have a pile of kernels they won’t cook evenly, and you could end up with burnt popcorn.
6 ) Keeping the pan off the heat, put the lid on and wait for about 30 seconds. This gives the kernels and chance to heat up, so they’ll be primed to start popping.
7 ) Put the pan back on the heat with the lid slightly ajar. By letting the steam escape, you’ll end up with crispier popcorn.
8 ) Once the kernels really start popping, hold the pan and lid securely and begin to gently shake the pan back and forth.
9 ) When you hear a 1–2 second gap between pops, remove from heat and pour into a bowl.
Optional: Melt butter and add salt to taste. You can melt butter in the still-hot pan, or microwave it. There you have it: delicious popcorn you can feel good about.
Special thanks to my partner for being my model.
Have an awesome popcorn recipe? I’d love to hear it in the comments.