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Movie popcorn at home...finally!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I love movie popcorn. There is just something different about the fresh popped popcorn you get at the movies and popcorn you get elsewhere. In fact, I know that I have seen a number of horrendous movies, just so I could buy some popcorn. Eventually I decided that there has got to be a way to make this same thing at home. So I started popping away.

I don't know exactly how long I have been working on it, but its probably been long enough for me to be a bit embarrassed about it. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't making a batch a day or anything like that. But it has been a good few years of experimenting with a batch a month or so, using different ingredient ratios, techniques, etc. And I think I finally nailed it!

1 tbsp popcorn oil to 1/2c kernels to 1/2 tsp popcorn salt. I have been using this general ratio for a bit now...and while my results would be close, they just were never exactly what I was looking for. My biggest hurdle was trying to get the popped kernels to be crispy. Although the kernels would usually come out "somewhat" crispy, they all seemed to be a little soft--almost like a number of the popped kernels would deflate upon biting into them.

So, I kept popping. I have been using an aluminum, hand-cranked-stove-top popcorn pot. It was reliable in popping most kernals, and has dealt well with my experiments. If only I could get the proportions just right!

Then one day, it hit me: Maybe the proportions are correct as-is. Maybe it is the pot! This has occurred to me a few times before, and so I would merely adjust the heat on the stove instead of modifying the pot. I would try different heat levels until the kernels got as crispy as they were going to get. Then I would go right back to re-tooling the ratios.

Then recently, for some reason, I got the bright idea of increasing the thickness of the popcorn pot. It is a pretty thin aluminum pot that I use. And once that thought hit me, I began wondering, "It couldn't be that simple, could it?"

So on my very next batch, instead of putting the pot directly on the stove, I sat the pot in my large cast iron pan. This heated the oil a touch slower/gentler than normal. The smoking point was not reached as fast. The heat was more thoroughly distributed on the bottom. It seemed the oil reached the optimum temperature and maintained it, instead of quickly reaching it and then quickly exceeding it.

When the popping stopped, the aroma was perfect. The look was just right. And that first handful of popcorn..."crunch!" :p FINALLY!

In other discussion boards, I have read people disagreeing with the ratio above, or the ingredients themselves (can't blame them, with so many options out there). So here is exactly what I used:

1 tbsp. Lou Ana CoCo-Pop Popcorn Popping Oil
1/2 tsp. Flavacol by Gold Medal
1/2 c. Orville Redenbachers Original gourmet kernels

I throw in the pat of oil into the pot on moderate to moderate-high heat. I measure out the kernels in a measuring cup. I then pour the salt over the kernels sitting in the measuring cup. For some reason, this step has consistently given me the best result for salt coverage. Next, I throw one kernel into the pot and wait for it to pop. Once it does, the oil is now ready. Throw in the salt covered kernels. Crank the handle (or shake the pot) to spread the kernels, coat them evenly with oil and salt, and prevent burning. When the popping slows, I turn off the heat and wait a few moments more so that popcorn doesnt come shooting at me. Top with butter flavoring, and fine salt. That that is it!

The Lou Ana are basically orange sticks of coconut oil (like long sticks of butter). The color of the sticks help to color the popcorn, but does nothing for flavor (unless you use too much, and you will taste coconut).

The Flavocol is a popcorn salt, but not the kind you add to your popcorn at the movies. This salt is bright orange, and comes in a quart sized milk carton. It looks very similar to the powdered cheese that comes in Kraft Mac and Cheese. You use so little of it, that it will last you forever. It is this salt (in the right proportions) that gives you the movie popcorn flavor, and also adds some color.

And for the kernels, Redenbacher's. I have tried many different kinds of kernels. And although Orville's is pricey, it really does make a noticeable difference (at least so far as grocery store brands go).

I had a heck of a time finding the right popcorn salt and oil. But I found that Smart and Final consistently was supplied with these items. For butter flavoring, Smart and Final also has this, but it is sold in a two gallon container. Check your grocery store for butter flavoring (plain melted butter makes the kernels soggy). Orville Redenbacher now sells butter flavoring in drip/squeeze-bottle form in the popping section of your grocery store.

At last! No more crappy movies just for my movie popcorn!:smoking:
post #2 of 11
I actually prefer air popped popcorn with a just barely colored buerre noissette. Which I probably spelled wrong. All the water is gone so you don't get sogginess. A fine salt. I think it beats movie popcorn with its fake flavors, greasiness and too much salt.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #3 of 11
I use a trick from Alton Brown... I put the oil in the pan (I use a heavy bottomed stainless pan), add the popcorn, then make a foil tent that seals around the edge of the pan and sticks up 3-4 inches. Poke a couple of good sized holes in the top of the tent to release steam and bring up to temp and start popping. Pretty foolproof and crunchy popcorn. like lots of real butter on mine so drown it at the end :lol: I may have to try the salt in the pan trick next time!
post #4 of 11
What you really need, for any of these orange-colored recipes is ... GARLIC butter.

Try it, you'll like it.

travelling gourmand
travelling gourmand
post #5 of 11
Good thread, Ben! I LOVE popcorn. We made it often at home when I was a kid, using the same light blue enameled pot. I learned later that pot was used originally to sterilize baby bottles. :lol: We used vegetable oil, heated up as with your one-kernel test, then salted afterwards. The corn was always yellow popcorn, although now and then we used hand-shelled strawberry popcorn straight off the cob. We salted it and never used butter or other flavoring afterwards except for an occasional shake of Lawrey's seasoned salt.

In college I learned that some people prefer their popcorn sprinkled with sugar. One friend even treated day-old, popped corn as breakfast cereal. When the microwave popcorn came along it was pretty awful at first, burning more often than not in my Amana Radarange, which seemed to have higher wattage and power than others.

For a time I experimened with grated parmesan cheese and other shake-on flavorings from the store. Now I prefer to use an air-popper or a microwave popper, then season with real butter (unsalted is all I have) and then adding a gentle shake of sea salt. After all that exploring, I really like plain ol' buttered popcorn the best.
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post #6 of 11
Thanks for sharing!

My wife and I eat alot of popcorn too. We like baby white popcorn popped in a Whirley Pop. I like to top it with fine iodized salt...and I've been drizzling EVOO on top lately. Yum Yum!

post #7 of 11
Immodest, yes, but I pride myself on my popcorn.

My method: a heavy pot --calphalon, all-clad, or aluminum sandwich bottom. Put in the cooking oil & drop in the popcorn so it's in one layer and not swimming in oil. Turn on the heat while you make the top. (it really doesn't matter if you heat the oil before putting in the popcorn or not)

The heavy pot & the top are what make it come out crisp and movie-like. I use a metal mesh strainer and a cheap square paper napkin for the top.

Choose a strainer that will set either on the rim of your pot, or slightly overlap it.

Fold the napkin diagonally, main fold to opposing double fold, then fold it diagonally again. Scissor off the point made at the narrow end, then cut two or three tiny notches out of the folded side and a couple of slashes in the opposing side.

Open it carefully, then push it into the strainer so that the hole in the middle is in the middle of the strainer and all the rest of the napkin covers the sides of the strainer.

Carefully upend the lined strainer over the pot, weighing it down if need be.

The oil from the popping corn will be absorbed by the napkin and the moisture will escape through the holes. Furthermore, the dome shape of the strainer allows more movement and loft for the popcorn.

This is much easier to do than to describe. Please try it at least once.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Bixa, thanks for that.

It is funny that you mention a heavy bottomed pot, because that is exactly what I wanted to try next. I have a good sized SS calaphon stock pot (not too big), in which I wanted to try and make a batch of popcorn. I have a lid that fits snuggly, so I was considering just setting the lid off-center to vent. But I like the idea of the strainer and napkin. I don't know when my next batch will be, but I think I will give your idea a try! :lips:
post #9 of 11
Thanks, Ben ~~ after I wrote it, it seemed like a lot of verbiage!

Another thing I've done successfully is to use my small calphalon wok with a regular colander upended over it -- with the napkin inside as in the method I described. This is the plain old-fashioned aluminum colander with three legs & no handles. I mention this because it would probably work with a bigger wok and a bigger colander -- more popcorn!
post #10 of 11
Jeff Smith always said the wok was a great popcorn popper.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #11 of 11
My wife is the queen on this stuff (actually King)....

She uses Orville's butter flavored Popcorn Oil and Orville's kernels as well. It involves a Revereware Pot we've had for years and the standard lid; nothing fancy!!

She uses about 1/8 cup oil in the bottom of the pan and tosses in 3 kernels with the heat on HIGH. When the 3 kernels pop, she dumps in about a cup of popcorn kernels and covers it, swirling it around in the oil. In seconds the popping starts and continues until the cover comes off the pot and now comes the secret!!

She immediately dumps the results into a large brown grocery bag and scatters the popcorn salt on the top. She then closes the bag and shakes it which removes excess oil from the corn but keeps the flavor of it.

It's crunchy and perfect each time with a just a few (very few if any) unpopped kernels.

I'm the chef in the house but I can't do what she does with popcorn!! Everyone who's ever had it just begs her to make it each time they come over!!
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