Do you crave that melt-in-your-mouth, finger-licking, buttery, golden, theater-style popcorn? Believe it or not, it’s pretty easy to duplicate at home. All you need are the right supplies and a few secret tricks. And here they are…
• Theaters most often use American yellow or white kernels, but true popcorn connoisseurs will insist on white, which is purported to be more flavorful.
• Proper storage of popcorn is important, because the moisture content inside each kernel is what causes it to eventually pop. Lose the moisture and you’ll have lot of unpopped kernels, or “old maids,” as the popcorn industry calls them. Store popcorn kernels in an airtight container, and never put kernels in the refrigerator – this can dry them out.
• Good popcorn involves 2 types of fat: one for cooking and one for topping. Most theaters use coconut oil for that distinct, irresistible aroma when the corn is popping. Some theaters use only canola oil. And nothing beats real, honest-to-goodness butter for topping (ahem, in our humble, popcorn-lovin’ opinion).
• Popcorn lovers say the best way to duplicate theater-style popcorn is on the stove top. Air-popped and microwave popcorn don’t give you enough control over the temperature or oil.
• Use a heavy pot with a lid or a hand-cranked popper. If using a pot, you must move it back and forth constantly to keep the kernels from sticking to the bottom. A hand-cranked popper contains a metal dasher that scrapes the bottom of the pan as your turn the handle, preventing sticking and burning.
• Add your oil at low heat, then increase heat to medium once the kernels are added.
• The oil is ready when a single kernel dropped into the hot oil pops quickly. Go ahead and add the rest of your popcorn and start cranking or agitating the pot.
• It’s also important to cock the lid of the popper slightly to let some steam out while popping. Sources say this makes the popcorn crunchier.
• Once popped, let the corn cool for at least a minute before adding seasonings or toppings – otherwise it can get soggy.
• The secret to getting your salt to stick to your popcorn is using specially powdered popcorn salt. This is essentially salt that has been ground “fine-as-flour.”
• According to the experts, you should never add salt to the popper with the oil and popcorn. This will toughen the kernels, resulting in tougher, chewier popcorn. Always add salt and toppings after popping (and after the one-minute cooling time).