Popcorn. It's everyone's favorite movie snack. But whether you have it at the theater or in those instant microwave packages, neither compares to freshly popped at home. When you pop your own you can skip out on the imitation butter flavoring, salt overload and questionable chemicals in the theater and pre packaged stuff. Popcorn itself is a healthy, low-cal snack, but in the many cases we find it today, it is anything but healthy.
That doesn't mean your popcorn should be bland and it doesn't mean you still can't use your microwave to have fresh popcorn in just a couple of minutes.
First, I should explain why I'm writing about popcorn. You might not think it's a local food in Vermont, but guess what, it is. Yoder Farm in Danby grows and sells its fresh popcorn year round at the Rutland farmers market, and other local markets. Unlike popcorn kernels you can buy in stores, you know this stuff is fresh and you'll taste the difference right away. Yoder Farm grows multiple varieties, including the Dakota Black and Dutch Butter.
Method One: Stove-top
This is my favorite way to pop popcorn because I can easily make up a big batch all at once. All you need is your popcorn kernels and some oil.
When it comes to popcorn and oil you want to use a 3 to 1 ratio. For about half a large pot of popcorn use 3/4 cup kernels and 1/4 cup oil. The kind of oil you use is up to you. A vegetable or canola oil is pretty standard, but olive oil works, as does coconut oil for a mild coconut flavored popcorn.
Heat the oil over medium heat with just a few kernels in the pan. When one or two pop, add all of the kernels to the pan and cover. When you hear the kernels popping, start giving the pan a slight shake back and forth. It will only take a few minutes and you want to remove the pan from the heat as soon as the popping slows to the point of almost stopping.
Method 2: Microwave
I don't think people realize how simple it is to make your own microwave popcorn. Or, how much cheaper it is either. All you need is a clean, unused brown paper bag. You can find 100 packs of the lunch size in stores for just a couple of dollars.
Just pour 1/4 cup of kernels into the bottom of a bag and roll the bag tight - no oil needed! Place in the microwave and cook for about 2 minutes or until the popping slows down. And that's it!
Butter and salt aren't everything in the popcorn world. As I already mentioned, coconut oil is a surprisingly good option. You can cook the kernels in it, or toss a spoonful afterwards and let melt. One of my favorite seasonings is cinnamon. Cinnamon and sugar is a good combo, but cinnamon with a sprinkle of salt does the job just as well for me. Speaking of sugar - a light sprinkle of sugar and salt will give you the popular kettle corn taste. Any of your favorite spice mixtures, whether sweet or savory, will taste just as great on popcorn. Nutritional yeast is one way of amping up the health value.
I recently enjoyed a bowl of popcorn with grated parmesan, chopped fresh rosemary and a little salt and that was excellent.
The way you flavor your popcorn is entirely up to you. Do whatever you like because anything goes with the neutral taste of popcorn. And if you need more inspiration, check out these great ideas from the Food Network. (I think they need a little toning down of the butter, though.) Get popping!