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Preparing Perfect Popcorn

PopcornNot only is popcorn tasty and economical (for mere pennies you can enjoy a quart at home), it's also easy to prepare. Whether you choose to pop popcorn in an electric popper, on the stove or over an open fire, follow these tips for perfectly popped popcorn:

  • First, warm the popper, heavy pan or skillet. If oil popping your corn, add 1/4 cup of cooking oil to the pan. Allow the oil to heat. The best popping temperature is between 400 and 460 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil burns at 500 degrees. If your oil starts to smoke, it's too hot. Any cooking oil will work provided it can retain the proper temperature. The less saturated the fat in the oil (like corn or sunflower), the less calories you add to your snack.
  • Don't pop popcorn in butter. Butter will burn.
  • Test the heat of the oil by dropping in one or two kernels. When the kernel pops or spins in the oil, you're ready to add the remaining popcorn. Pour just enough kernels to cover the bottom of the pan. Shake the pan to be certain oil coats each kernel.
  • Kernels that do not pop are known as "old maids." They do not have sufficient water contained within the starch to create the build up of pressure needed to pop the kernels.

If your popcorn does not pop into fluffy, crunchy kernels, it may have lost some of its moisture. Rejuvenate popcorn by filling a 1-quart jar 3/4 full with popcorn. Add one tablespoon of water. Cover and shake every five to 10 minutes until all the water is absorbed. In two to four days it should be perfect for popping.