Like many foods that have become staples as a result of devastating economic conditions, the popcorn gained popularity in the United States during the Great Depression of 1930s when popcorn was one of the cheapest stomach-filling foods available.
Popcorns come from special varieties of corn that puff or ‘pop’ up when heated. In a popping corn, moisture and oil are enclosed along with a hard starch inside a kernel covered by a hull that is impervious to water. When heated, the moisture and oil in the corn kernel creates steam pressure that softens the starch and eventually pops the outer hull. The sudden drop in pressure within the kernel results in the rapid expansion of the softened starch into an airy foam, which then cools to form the familiar crispy puff.
To prepare simple popcorn at home: In a tall pot add two tablespoons canola oil along with a few popcorn kernels and set on the stovetop over medium-high heat. After the first kernel pops, add an additional ½ cup of popcorn kernels and cover with asplatter screen, or partially with a lid. Gently shake to prevent the kernels from burning, and cook until there is about four or five seconds between pops.
Flavoring: When it comes to flavoring popcorn, the sky's the limit. Once the popcorn finishes popping, dump it into a big bowl. Pour, drizzle, or sprinkle on the topping, and mix until well-coated. The most important tip for flavoring popcorn is to do it when it is still warm. The following are five flavors you can try; each one can make up to 10 cups of popcorn.
Honey brown butter popcorn:
To prepare this flavor, in a small saucepan brown 1/4 cup of unsalted butter. Remove from the heat and whisk in 1/4 cup honey and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Drizzle over the bowl of popcorn and stir until the popcorn is well-coated.
Chili cheese popcorn:
Because cheesy popcorn is irresistible to many, nutritional yeast is the secret ingredient that brings about the cheesy taste without using actual cheese. To prepare, melt 1/4 cup unsalted butter in a saucepan. In a small bowl whisk together 1/2 cup nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Drizzle butter and sprinkle nutritional yeast mixture over the popcorn, and stir until well-coated.
Matcha and dark chocolate with sea salt:
To prepare, combine about 85 grams of good-quality dark chocolate and one tablespoon coconut oil in a small saucepan and melt over low heat, stirring constantly. Sprinkle two teaspoons of matcha powder (finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea) over the popcorn and stir until well-coated. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the popcorn, sprinkle with one teaspoon of flaky sea salt and mix.
Dill pickle popcorn:
In a small bowl, whisk together two teaspoons ground coriander, two teaspoons dried dill, 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard, 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon celery seed, 1/2 teaspoon citric acid, and onetablespoon salt. Melt 1/4 cup of unsalted butter over low heat. Drizzle the butter and sprinkle the herb mixture over the popcorn and stir.
Cookies and cream popcorn:
Combine ¼ kgof white chocolate and two tablespoons coconut oil in a small saucepan, and melt over low heat, stirring constantly. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the popcorn, top with 12 crushed Oreos and then stir until well-coated. Eat immediately or chill in the fridge for 10 minutes to let the chocolate set.