Light and crunchy, a little bit salty and a little bit sweet, fun to throw and easy to eat – popcorn’s place in the snack food strata is right up at the top. It’s a low-calorie treat (unless you drench it with melted butter) that is whole grain, gluten-free, non-dairy, soy-free, and sugar-free. If you’re a popcorn fanatic, then learning to make stovetop popcorn is a must. Popcorn made on your kitchen stove is crunchy, tasty, and free from the chemicals that are found in most other incarnations the snack.
Microwaving kernels may be the easiest way to prepare hot popcorn – but these greasy bags contain numerous toxic chemicals, including perfluoroalkyls, perfluorooctanoic acid, and perfluorooctane sulfonate. Termed “likely carcinogens” by the Environmental Protection Agency, these chemicals prevent grease from soaking into the bag – and they also fuse into the food that you eat.
You’ll probably also want to skip pre-fabricated stovetop popcorn pans like Jiffy Pop, which contains hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, along with tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) – a butane-based product and a main component in lighter fluid.
Old-fashioned air poppers are a healthy option that provide hot popcorn without the use of oil. What they do use, however, is steam. Steam can make the popcorn chewier and less crispy – and chewy popcorn is probably not what you are going for.
What’s a popcorn lover to do?
Pop your own on the stove. Learning how to make stovetop popcorn can be a little tricky, and you may have to try a few rounds before you get it right. But the result is perfectly crunchy, crispy, popcorn that is free of chemicals and ready to eat. This recipe makes 10 cups of popped corn.
½ cup un-popped popcorn kernels
3 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
- Add three tablespoons of canola oil or peanut oil to a large, heavy bottomed pot (like a Dutch oven) over medium heat.
- Toss in three popcorn kernels and wait.
- Once all three kernels have popped, remove the pot from the heat and add the rest of your corn.
- Wait 30 seconds, and then set the pot over medium heat again. Cover the pot with a lid, but leave it slightly ajar so that steam can escape.
- Give the pot an occasional, gentle shake until the popping slows to once every 1-2 seconds.
- Transfer your popcorn immediately to a large bowl, and season with salt if desired.
Add more flavor to your stovetop popcorn by getting creative with herbs, spices and other ingredients that you have in your kitchen. Some sweet and savory popcorn toppings that you can try include:
- Garlic powder and Parmesan cheese
- Toasted coconut flakes and mini chocolate chips
- Melted dark chocolate drizzle
- Crushed kale crisps
- Dried basil and parsley
- Pumpkin pie or apple pie spice
- Dried rosemary and freshly cracked black pepper
- Chili powder and turmeric
- Smoked paprika and dried parsley
- Ground cumin and nutritional yeast
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