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Where can I find gourmet popping corn and popcorn salt?

I've gotten totally sick of microwave popcorn, so I bought a whirley-pop to make it on my , which has been great. But the popcorn I can buy at the supermaket is just so-so, and I'm trying to find a local source (the shipping from the online places make them cost-prohibitive.)

Does anywhere around here sell any varieties of "gourmet" popping corn? Also, I'm trying to buy popcorn salt, which is finer than table salt and sticks to the popcorn better (I'm told). Not flavored or anything, just salt.

Any suggestions appreciated.

[NOTE: although this thread was originally started on the Boston board, we've moved it to this board because the majority of the suggestions and advice here are non-regional-- The Chowhound Team]

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  1. Well, Orville Redenbacher says gourmet on the label, right? Then again, I just bought some fat -free cream. Not much help here. Exept to say, The Dugout on Comm Ave. installed a popper about a year or two ago, and quite often after a Sox game, on the way home, I have to stop in for some hot buttered and lightly salted popcorn and a beer. It is absolutely delectable in this divey, homey bar which is family owned and operated.

    For the salt, you might want to try just grinding some regular salt in a food processor or coffee/spice grinder. Just a thought, if nothing else surfaces.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Devilsfood

      You can try unpoppedgourmet.com, they have several different kinds.

    2. We love our Whirley Pop, and while we haven't used anything other than store-bought corn, I have come to really enjoy the store brand sea salt sold at Whole Foods in the tall blue cylindrical containers. I add it along with the oil and corn to the popper so that it coats all of my hot fresh popcorn as thoroughly as possible.

      Once in a while, we like the phony white cheddar cheese powder, too. They sometimes have it at Target, but we ordered ours online somewhere.

      :)
      BK

      1. I haven't tried it, but I did notice that Wild Oats sells organic popping corn in a bulk bin. (Full disclosure: I have nothing against the Orville Redenbacher stuff from Shaws; to my uneducated popcorn palette, it air pops fine.)

        1. I think a gourmet popcorn shop opened up in Quincy Market-not sure of the name. I don't know if they sell popping corn as well but I think they're pretty serious about their popcorn. They might have some good ideas.

          1. Williams Sonoma sells Black Jewell popcorn in nice, pricey jars.

            For salt, use Diamond Crystal salt. It's finely ground (unlike Morton's, which is coarser and has an anti-caking agent that also makes it less likely to stick to popcorn). (Btw, Diamond Crystal kosher salt is the US gold standard for kosher salt too - it's coarser than Morton's).

            For reasonable powdered cheddar, order Cabot's Cheddar Shake online from Cabot.

            1. I read somewhere here that pickling salt is a good substitute for popcorn salt but haven't yet found it in any of my local markets- anyone seen it North of Boston?

              The popcorn from the bins at Wild Oats (Saugus) is pretty good but I'm stuck on the stuff I've started ordering from crownjewelgourmet.com I keep meaning to start a thread on General Topics about it.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Chris VR

                At the risk of getting off topic, I was going to order popcorn from crownjewelgourmet.com. I was thinking about the sampler, though I find it hard to believe there's much difference in all those types. Have you ordered from them?

                1. re: winedude

                  I posted a review here, on the General Topics board: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/377970

              2. Orville Redenbacher from the jar using infused olive oil. I'm suprised how good it taste. I got some Habanero chilli infused olive oil I'm going to try next.

                1. Btw, the best m-wave popcorn by far is Orville R's Tender White.

                  1. You could also just make popcorn salt by putting some kosher salt into one of those cheap blade coffee grinders for a few seconds. Just make sure to clean it out well or else rust will take over your grinder.

                    1. I believe Penzey's sells both popcorn salt and cheese powder. The suggestions to use Diamond Salt are good ones. It's like superfine sugar is to regular granulated sugar.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Velda Mae

                        No, Penzey's doesn't carry either of those items. The Baker's Catalogue carries a Vermont cheese powder, but no popcorn salt.

                        1. re: Allstonian

                          Oh yes Penzeys does carry a cheese powder, it's the Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle. It's not specifically cheddar, but it's very yum. A generous dusting of that and a little chipotle is one of my favorite things to put on popcorn.

                          Salt specifically made as popcorn salt is more than a bit of a rip-off, costing at least ten times regular salt. As others have mentioned, you can easily make popcorn salt at home by running regular salt in a spice grinder. Or dump a bunch of salt in the blender or food processor and run for about a minute so that you have several months' worth of popcorn salt. The main thing you want with salt for popcorn is small size so that the salt crystals get stuck in the little nooks on the popcorn.

                          From what I can tell with the popcorn itself, look for a place with high turnover; stale popcorn doesn't do much of anything. I tend to prefer good ol' Orville Redenbacher, even if their commercials with a re-animated Orville are a little creepy.

                      2. I have some of this http://www.farawayfoods.com/redpopcor... Paloma Roja red corn, but I haven't used it yet. I was going to use Maldon Salt on it, as it crumbles nicely so that you don't get big chunks of salt in your corn.

                        1. We use popcorn we buy in bulk from the organic market...nothing fancy.

                          BUT...we use the Brady Street Sprinkle from Penzey's on it. Popped in a Whirley Pop with some olive oil. I"ve become seriously addicted to this in the evenings!

                          1. I'm writing from New York City so can't tell you what's available in Boston. The best place I've found for ORGANIC popping corn is Riehle's (they're online), which sell a basic yellow corn that pops up large with a medium hull. Riehle's and also Amish Country Popcorn have a nice selection of gourmet corn - I highly recommend trying the Red, which has an amazingly sophisticated crunch and taste - and the Blue, which has a sweet corn-y taste. I got my popcorn salt from Amish Country - they have two varieties - plain and 'ballpark' which has got a buttery flavor. The white cheddar topping at Riehle's is okay (it's got preservatives in it) and the carmel topping works pretty well if you want kettle corn. Don't get the buttery topping - it's like congealed orange fat with preservatives. It's amazingly difficult to get gourmet, non GMO, organic popping corn in any variety. If anyone out there has found any, please let me know! My local Wholefoods doesn't sell organic popping corn. If you have to go microwave, the best microwave popcorn by far is Newman's Tender White. The Whirley pop is wonderful if a bit rickety.

                            1. Morton's makes a popcorn salt that is nice and powdery, but it can be hard to find in grocery stores--you can see what it looks like on the Morton website. Fireworks makes good bulk gourmet popcorn (popcornlovers.com). I like the Black Hills, High Mountain Midnite (a blue), and one of the reds. The different colors DO taste very different. They have a Hickory that is nice too, but the reds and blacks are my favorites.
                              They have lots of flavoring spices and the salt (but the morton's is cheaper).

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: justbetsy

                                I've found that lots of stores do carry it; you just have to know where to look. Usually, it's right next to the popcorn stuff, not next to the salt.

                              2. Seconding another opinion... try Williams Sonoma "Black Cat Corn." My dad swears by it, and although it's kind of pricey, it's worth it. I'm sure you can order it online as the stores don't always have it in stock.

                                1. I eat A LOT of popcorn and while Amish is good White Cat is the best - http://whitecatpopcorn.com/

                                  1. I ordered Crimson popping corn from Rancho Gordo. I can't wait til it gets here! Any Chowhounds tried it?? http://www.ranchogordo.com/Merchant2/...
                                    www.houndstoothgourmet.com

                                    1. I will not eat microwave popcorn. I have the whirley pan thing, but gave it up, as I got tired of cleaning it. I just pop right in a staineess steel bowl covered with foil. The "gourmet" popcorn is nice, something different, but doesn't pop as nicely as plain old redenbacher's. No snooty factor, no gee-whiz colors, just good, completely popped, fluffy popcorn. Love olive oil on my popcorn....Should of thought of that sooner!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                        So you place the stainless steel bowl directly on the stovetop?

                                        1. re: finlero

                                          yeah, right on the stove....1/2 cup of popcorn, tbl+ of peanut oil, salt, and cover with foil, medium heat. At the first pop keep the bowl moving. Just one bowl to wash. Can't take credit for the method...I saw Alton do it

                                          1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                            Well your idea or not, it's terrific. Movie night!

                                      2. I know the original post is over two years old, but it seems the question about where to find popping corn in Boston was not answered. South End Formaggio (http://www.southendformaggio.com/) carries Rancho Gordo's red popcorn, and I recommend it highly. It's a bit expensive ($6 for a pound) but it's still cheaper than buying anything online and having it shipped, and tastes great, much better than the Orville from the grocery store. If anyone has had luck finding good popping corn elsewhere in Boston, do let me know!