Making Popcorn: 101

"Of course life is bizarre. The more bizarre it gets, the more interesting it is. The only way to approach it is to make yourself some popcorn and enjoy the show."

-David Gerrold, Writer, "Star Trek"

The making of popcorn has become an American tradition. Surprisingly, though, many folks are confused about how to actually make traditional butter-flavored popcorn. Over the years, acceptable recipes for this standard snack treat have changed somewhat with the introduction of new ingredients (butter flavored salt, for example) that have changed the industry completely. But, the fact still remains that the production of a high-quality popped corn is relatively easy and requires very few ingredients.

The process for making superior popcorn has not changed much in a very, VERY long time. But, while the process remains the same, the tools we use to make popcorn have become very diverse, each serving a very particular purpose. Whether you are using a microwave, a stovetop popper, a kettle-style machine, or an industrial popper, you still need these ingredients: popcorn kernels, salt, and oil. That sounds so simple doesn't it? But, being humans, we have continued to tweak this basic recipe to suit our very particular needs to the point of obscurity. So, the guide below is basic, and will require your own measurements that fit your production, kettle size, and desired result. You can easily find a plethora of more detailed popcorn recipes by searching the internet.

First though, a quick word about salt. While the actual history of butter flavored salt is rather murky, it is the industry-standard today. This product does away with the need to add actual butter to popcorn. This was problematic in the past, because real butter is a product that must be refrigerated, burns easily in a popper, and when melted butter is put on popcorn, it "waterlogs" the popped flake, making for a greasy, unsatisfying result. Thus, combining salt with a chemically-enhanced "buttery flavoring" prepares fantastic popcorn, and makes the whole process extremely easy.

Ideally, you should use a kettle style popcorn machine to prepare popcorn. It makes the whole process incredibly easy. However, you can even make popcorn at home with a simple pot, too. To make traditional buttery flavored popcorn on a stovetop, combine oil preferably coconut oil), popcorn kernels, and butter flavored salt in a hot kettle/pot with a lid. Put over high heat (but not hot enough to burn it). Agitate the pot slowly until the kernels begin to pop. Then, move the kettle quickly back and forth over the heat until the popping slows to about 3 seconds between pops. Then, dump the contents in a big bowl. At this point, you can choose to add a "buttery topping", which is also an oil-based flavoring, but will not waterlog your popcorn. My lovely wife lives for this stuff.

The most important last step is to eat it while contemplating the bizarreness of life. Enjoy!

Twitter, Seattle, WA

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