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Best popcorn?

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I'm considering popping some popcorn the old fashioned way and was wondering what folks' favorite brands are. I'm just going to do it in a pot with a lid on the stovetop, so something really easily poppable is essential.

Other questions: does popcorn need to be stored in a cool, dark dry place so it doesn't absorb moisture? I assume so.

The most important question is whether it's worth the trouble. Does microwave popcorn taste just as good and cost less these days?

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  1. I was on the phone a few years ago with my cousin while she was popping and consuming a bag of microwave popcorn. Since we were gabbing rather a lot, her bag of popcorn got cold before she could finish it. Her comments went from, "My popcorn's done...smells good!" to "You know,this stuff gets awful chewy halfway through" to "Have you ever noticed the slimy stuff that coats your mouth when you eat this junk?" By the end of the conversation we had both decided...life is too short to eat something this bad, even if it is cheap & easy.
    I've been popping corn in a pan of oil ever since. Store brand popcorn, peanut or corn oil, shake the pan like crazy, and then pour on (real) melted butter. And of course, salt, parmesan, whatever you fancy.
    The real stuff is soooooo good. And I had almost forgotten how good it really was.
    Save the microwave crap for work, if you must.
    And you know, judging by some of the recent news articles, breathing the 'butter flavor' concentrate is worse for you than nerve gas...I know, its in MUCH lower levels in the product, but STILL!!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: tonifi

      we have an electric hot air popcorn popper from the 70's. Haven't really noticed a difference in the popcorn (we buy what's on sale and consume it rarely).

      The point of my reply is that you might consider a hot air electric popper vs a stove top pan.

    2. I am all about convenience but microwave popcorn just isn't as good as stove popped.
      I use Orville Redenbacher's popcorn and pop it in canola oil. I start it in a cold pan over high heat and the lid a teeny bit askew (enough so the steam can escape, but not the popcorn.) I shake it regularly until the pops slow to occasional
      I microwave the butter and drizzle it over before adding salt and other seasonings so they stick properly. YUM

      Link: http://bunrab.com/

        1. re: Karl S.

          sad to say, i was thouroughly disappointed with BJ.

          The popped kernals were way too small for my liking and i don't believe the texture made up for that.

          Maybe I'm a victim of the 70s but I've reverted back to using Orville. Nothing spectacular but more to my liking than BJ.

          I used to use White Cat but have not seen their mason jars around in quite some time.

          fwiw, i too use a 20 yr old. stovetop Whirly Pop.

          1. re: bk

            Oh, I LOVE the smaller kernels, which have a lovely texture and flavor. People always eat up the BJ bowl over the OR bowl when I offer both.

        2. I use Orville's. Not sure if it is the best. But I can say that microwave popcorn is awful. The smell alone is enough to make me avoid wating it. For the stove top, we use a "Whirly-pop" pan. It is great- cooks the popcorn in no time, with little oil. I add a bit of oil and salt to the pan. No need to warn up this type of pan. just add the popcorn, and you are set. the whirly pop has a crank handle which tosses the kernals as they cook. it is actually just a mini version of the popcorn machines in a pub, or the kiosk stand type machines at ball games, amusement parks, etc. Bought it for a gift for someone, and they liked is so much, had to get one for myself.

          2 Replies
          1. re: macca

            I have an airpopper from the early 1990s (you can still buy them new, but they last a long time) and we more or less have nightly popcorn. I use whatever popcorn I can get - store brand, Jiffy, the one with the Quaker wagon on the label, Orville - and I can't tell much of a difference except that I prefer white popcorn over yellow popcorn.

            I will, on occasion, go the pan route. I think the oil gives the popcorn a flavor depth you don't get with air popped corn. I also like the way the oil makes the popcorn a little more chewy.

            Melter butter, no margarine. Kosher salt. Sometimes a little brewer's yeast if the whole bowl is for me. Mmmmmm.

            I detest microwave popcorn. It's smell makes me ill. I can't even walk down that aisle in the grocery store. It's worse than the detergent aisle.

            As an aside: My sister-in-law was at our house and just starving. She's a junk food mamma and after going through our "bare" cupboards, I said, "Do you want me to make you some popcorn?" She said yes and proceeded to watch me in absolute fascination. I made a huge bowl of air popped for us to share and she ate the entire thing herself: "I never knew popcorn could taste SO good!" I bought her a airpopper for Christmas. It was only about $18 off of Amazon.

            1. re: macca

              Newman's Own No Butter No Salt Microwave Popcorn doesn't have that microwave popcorn smell. It's just plain popcorn, packaged conveniently in a bag for the microwave. Same goes for Garden of Eating (yes, I know) popcorn. You can do the same thing with plain popcorn and a paper bag. It's helpful for the office.

            2. i haven't found any major differences in brands, but freshness is important. a popcorn kernel has a small amount of moisture in it, which is what causes it to pop as it heats and expands. as it ages, this moisture evaporates, and the popcorn doesn't pop up as well. i wouldn't buy more than you think you can use in a few months time. the best popcorn i've made has been with one of the handcrank gadgets, closely followed by the good old pan on a stovetop method. i have found that hot air poppers make horrendously dry popcorn, and, due to the dryness of the popped corn, butter doesn't seem to distribute well (it's completely absorbed by the first pieces it touches). i usually wind up using 2-3 times the butter i normally would to get a decent distribution, which negates the benfit of air popping.