Ever since I was little I have been obsessed with popcorn. I must have eaten millions of kernels by now! It is one of my favourite quick snacks, and as a snack food, popcorn is very healthy and filling in comparison to other processed snacks. It is a whole grain and is a great source of fibre, as well as containing good levels of vitamins such as niacin, thiamine and folate. Obviously air popped is the method with the least calories, but some healthy (non hydrogenated, non trans fat) plant based oils, full of heart healthy mono and poly unsaturated fats, never hurt anyone, and so the stove method is my favourite way to make popcorn.
When I was young my mother used to make popcorn for me on the stove using a saucepan, microwave popcorn hadn’t really hit Ireland yet! As the years went on, most people have tended to move from saucepan to microwave for making popcorn in favour of convenience and flavor. However there is an abundance of research that suggests that microwaveable popcorn can have serious negative health consequences due to the highly processed artificial butter flavourings used, especialy the chemical diacetyl, used to make the fake buttery flavour, which is linked to lung disease, and the leaching of chemical PFCs (perfluorinated compounds) from the lining of the bag in to the food which is cited as a likely carcinogen.
So why not try making it on the stove? It is just as quick and still comes out steaming and hot. Despite the abundant variety of popcorn seasonings and flavours, my favourite has always been the ‘boring’ one -plain with a little salt, but there are so many variations to try out if you find salted too bland.
It is best to use the heaviest bottomed saucepan which you have. Sunflower oil and coconut oil are the nicest for popping corn with in my opinion. Pour in a little oil (enough to coat the entire bottom of the pan lightly) in to the bottom of the saucepan and turn the heat up to maximum. Once the oil is really hot, pour the popcorn in and make sure that the saucepan lid is fitted tightly. Leave the pan on the hottest setting until you hear the kernels start to pop. Once they have begun to pop, give the pan a vigorous shake and put it back on the high heat. Allow the pan to stay on the highest setting for about one minute, and then take the pan off the heat completely and shake it again. The hot steam trapped in the pan will pop the rest of the kernels without burning them. If the popping slows down before you think that most of the kernels have popped, just put the pan back on the high heat until you hear 10-15 pops, then take it off again. This is my tried and tested method to pop perfect popcorn every time, with no wasted kernels and no burning!
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