HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

How do you make old-fashioned popcorn in a covered pan or pot?

I used to make it all the time when I was a kid and then air poppers and microwave poppers came out. I'd love to make popcorn the old fashioned way in a covered pot but I can't seem to remember the proportions. Does anyone have any tips? Thanks

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. I remember putting some oil in the pot...putting some popcorn in...covering it, heating it, and letting it pop! Honestly, clueless about measurements in those days! I would think, just guessing, enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot and a bit more...stirring the popcorn to coat...getting it hot enough and it will pop. Some may burn..and most won't as the covered pot will also produce a certain amount of steam! I look forward to responses!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jesdamala

      I agree with your recipe. I've never measured the oil:kernel ratio, I'd just make sure it was enough to cover the bottom of the pan.. Just eye it., I don't think they really ever used measuring cups in the olden days anyway.
      =]

      1. re: beccabones

        Ditto, just don't add too much popcorn. It goes a long way. I used to do like 1/2 and just enough oil to coat the bottom is all. Still make it that way when my friends come over for a movie. The rest of the time. I have those small snack bags for just me.

    2. WHIRLEY POP Stovetop popper makes the best popcorn. 100 times better than microwave in the same amount of time.

      1. 2T oil to 1/4 cup or popcorn for an old (oil) style popcorn maker.

        1. We always make ours in a wok. My husband puts in enough oil to cover the bottom, then turns the burner on high, puts in three kernels, and puts the lid on the wok. When he hears all three kernels pop, he pours in enough popcorn to come about a half inch above the oil (At least that's what it looks like to me. I'll ask him when I have the chance.), then covers it again and starts shaking the wok back and forth on the burner (a maneuver that will be remembered by those whose popcorn memories predate air poppers and microwaves). When he doesn't hear any more popping, he takes it off the burner. A few more will pop when the wok is uncovered. He makes an entire wok full of popcorn this way.

          (Digression: As far as pre-'70's convenience popcorn goes, I guess you can still buy Jiffy Pop--haven't thought about it in a long time--it was good except when it caught on fire, which happened fairly often!)

          Nine minutes later:

          I asked my scientific spouse, and instead of estimating, he insisted on going and getting out the wok, the popcorn, and the oil. He measured the usual amount of popcorn, which turned out to be 3/4 cup, and the usual amount of oil, which was 3 tablespoons, So maybe a ratio of 1 T. oil to 1/4 c. popcorn is appropriate, except as he cautioned, "It's a wokload, not a panload."

          Now I need to go wash the wok, in appreciation. Hope this helps!

          12 Replies
          1. re: zorra

            Lol, I had a trying day today and your scientific exploits have put a smile on my face. Thanks to you and your husband, I shall try popping corn in my wok.

            1. re: zorra

              I've been cooking popcorn in a wok for decades. Using a regular pot with a lid will trap moisture which is absorbed by the popped kernals, making them tougher.

              The secret is an el cheapo Asian made wok you can get for next to nothing at a restaurant supply place and not the fancy schmancy pseudo-woks you get by Calphalon and other makers of cookware.

              The el cheapo's have lids that don't seal, thereby letting the steam escape which results in crispy popcorn.

              And yes, real butter. Is that even in question?

              I prefer not to eat microwave popcorn.

              1. re: bkhuna

                Unfortunately not all of us have woks. My pot and cover always seemed to work fine. Never noticed any tough kernels.

                But butter of course for me. But now a days, I eat micro all the time. I usually eat popcorn at work which in on a boat. So snack size in a micro. They have come a long ways and not too bad. Still love fresh popped but it has been a while. Just for me ... I wouldn't bother getting another pan dirty. But understand the tradition.

                1. re: kchurchill5

                  "Not too bad" translates to not too good. I can clean the pan in less than a minute. We always give the lid a crack to release the steam as others have suggested, a wok is not necessary. I just don't trust all the "stuff" added to microwave popcorn. C'mon kchurchill5, give fresh one more try, sounds like you could pull it off on a boat although space is surely at a premium. It's just so much better.

                  1. re: James Cristinian

                    No burner, no cabinets, just an ultra small micro and a very tiny small electric grill on top when necessary, lol. Not much room even for jiffy pop :) But agree, probably much better. Popcorn is my afternoon snack usually so don't have many comfort of home.

                    1. re: kchurchill5

                      Ah, jiffy pop. I don't think there was any way of making that without burning it. That must explain my love for burned popcorn and the old maids. There is nothing finer than melted butter over burned popcorn, but the non burned is good as well. The trick is to pour most of the popcorn off before it burns, and then cook the rest to desired burntness. It also requires a pot dedicated to burned popcorn.

                2. re: bkhuna

                  I like microwave popcorn. I buy standard popcorn, put it in a paper bag, use enough oil to just cover each kernal, and heat it in the microwave on the 'popcorn' setting (sounds like 30%). Perfectly fluffy using very little oil - it gets dressed in a lot of different ways after that. I've also used a plain dish and plate to to the same thing. This way I have the convenience, the amount I want, and the lower cost without all the nasty stuff they put in pre-packed microwave popcorn.

                  1. re: alwayscooking

                    Thats a good idea, thx. On a boat we are so crunched for space but I could take that. Nice thought. I usually just use a little salt, very little not much else for me. Although I like lots of topping, I try to go simple most times.

                    1. re: kchurchill5

                      You really don't even need oil to do the paper-bag-in-microwave...just apply butter & salt afterwards or whatever you're putting on it. I do mine in the microwave...just 1/3 cup of kernels...microwave for 2 1/2 minutes...it's ready...lately I've been making it a little healthier with Bragg Liquid aminos and nutritional yeast...but butter and salt works too!

                      1. re: Val

                        Thx, salt a little ... butter, ABSOLUTELY, forgot to mention that above. I have some horrible powdered powdered butter but it's a boat, so I'm lucky to have anything I can get out there. Lunch is usually cold tuna and a sub or salad, anything we make ahead in the cooler. So the micro is our friend out there, especially at night surveys, we try to bring stuff we can heat on the boat. We grilled grouper on this tiny grill up top and I made mashed potatoes and asparagus and a warm balsamic dressing for some bagged salad. Amazing what you can do in a micro. It won't be on my catering menu, but not too shabby for micro cooking :)

                        Popcorn is our craving in the afternoon, or at least mine

                        1. re: kchurchill5

                          Popcorn is my favorite salty snack, hands down. Even above cheetos or potato chips...oh, dear!

                          1. re: Val

                            Oh cheetos ... Yummy. Doesn't work well on a boat and trying to type and record data and fish. The fish don't like orange goo on the shrimp for bait :)

                            PC with butter and parm and salt, 3x decadent!!

                            Probably not on weight watchers huh? Still love it now and then.

              2. I do this all the time. Turn the heat on high. Put enough oil to cover the botton of the pot thinly. Add three popcorn kernels. Put the cover on the pot. When the first kernel pops add enough more popcorn to cover the bottom of the pot in a single layer. Turn the heat down to medium, cover the pot with a small crack at the top so steam can escape, and shake the pot periodically.

                When the pops become less frequent than one per 15 seconds or so it's done.

                Liz

                Liz

                1 Reply
                1. re: Euonymous

                  My parents used to make popcorn in a covered pot all the time. I don't recall proportions of oil to corn. If I recall correctly they used a pressure cooker, but without the pressure weight (steam escapes from the vent). The other key thing was to shake the pan continually while corn was popping. The shaking is a substitute for the stirring paddle that you see in old fashioned poppers.

                  paulj