I'm frequently asked how I manage to get my popcorn to pop up so large and fluffy. Having popped, you know, one or two batches of popcorn in my time, I'm very pleased to share the following tips that result in voluminous kernels each and every time:
1. Pop the freshest kernels you can find from a premium brand of popcorn. Premium brands will have information readily available about their kernel varieties and attributes. You will be able to select for your preferred flavor (robust, mild, sweet), texture (light, crisp, creamy), appearance (colors!), and kernel size. Large kernels will pop up larger than will medium or small. Shocking, I know.
2. For home-popping I recommend purchasing a "butterfly" variety of popcorn rather than "mushroom." While "mushroom" is ideal for a concession stand at a movie theater, "butterfly" pops more easily and reliably in a home popper.
3. Speaking of poppers, I swear by my faithful Whirley-Pop
because it pops faster and more thoroughly than an air-popper or a regular pot. Be sure to buy a genuine Whirley
made of all-steel for flawless heat conduction.
4. And speaking of heat, pop over the absolute highest heat your stove top can muster for the best expansion rate.
5. Since the heat is so high, you'll want to use refined coconut oil - not virgin - for the highest smoke point when popping. Roughly 3 tablespoons for every 1/2 cup of kernels should do it, but you may need to experiment with precise quantities for the specific variety of kernel you are using.
6. You may be tempted to ignore the instruction to crank the Whirley continuously while your popcorn pops. Don't. Walking away = less popcorn popping and/or more popcorn burning. All you multi-taskers take heart: if your heat is set correctly (see tip #4), each batch of popcorn will only take about 2-3 minutes start-to-finish to pop.
7. I've noticed that some varieties of kernels pop up larger when they are chilled. You can try storing your kernels in the fridge or freezer, particularly during the summer months if your kitchen is warm.
8. Finally, if you are familiar with my caramel popcorn
, please bear in mind that the caramel sauce binds the popped kernels together into large clusters, such that the popcorn appears larger than it actually is. Don't be sad when your caramel-less popcorn at home doesn't magically create its own clusters (but how cool would that be...).
Enjoy! Go pick out your movie and let me know how it goes.