Popping your own popcorn
So while I do like popcorn poppers, I most often pop my own corn. People's ooking methods can vary, as do their results.
What are your favorite ways of making popcorn without the microwave and without the popper? What type of pan/pot/container do you use? What it made out of? What type of oil? Blazing high heat or more medium? Whose kernels? To shake thy container not shake thy container? When to remove from the heat? So on and so forth.
Years ago, my father used to have a metal basket-type of contraption which was at the end of a long stick. He would shake it over the flame of our gas range. Compared to the air poppers that I have used since then and the microwavable popcorn bags that I more or less use nowadays, that method was probably the best.
There was one drawback though. I don't think Dad's basket wasn't made of stainless steel. Had any of us rubbed a Brillo pad on it, rust and burned metal would have come off like dirt. It was a miracle that little or none of it ever got on the popcorn.
Not sure if this is responsive or not but I think a hot air popper is the best way to go. Easiest to use and the most healthy - until you add the melted butter and salt, of course! If you insist on using a pot, I prefer stainless with a heavy bottom - preferably one with an aluminum or copper insert - to avoid hot spots. A little peanut oil over medium high heat, add a couple kernals, and when they pop add the rest and keep shaking until the popping is almost done. Don't wait until the popping is completely done or you will burn what has already popped.
I use a popcorn pan with crank on the handle, which stirs the popcorn.
I use a very small amount of oil, just about a teaspoon for several tablespoons of kernels.
I like to add chili powder to the oil and the kernels, before I start popping. And last week I discovered a new favorite popcorn recipe--I use a little bit of oil, a pat of butter, and a healthy amount of Frank's Red Hot, all added before popping. It's like Buffalo Popcorn. So good.
I use my wok. When I hear the popping start, I shake the pan from time to time.
I like to use whatever "fat" I have on hand... duck fat or goose fat usually! Yum...
I get my popcorn from Krinke's Market in Reeseville, WI.
I like their Baby Rice Popcorn.
They have a stand at the Madison Farmer's Market and a friend ships it to me in Chicago)
(when I can't get up there myself...it's a great market btw!
My smallest heavy bottomed stainless saucepan is 1qt, just the right size for me. I put in 1 T oil, whatever I have, it's safflower right now, and 3 kernels of corn and heat covered on medium. When they pop I dump in 1/4 c popcorn, cover, and shake gently til it stops popping, about two minutes. Then I immediately dump it into a bowl so it doesn't sog from the suprising amount of condensation inside the lid.
Hardly any old maids, even with really ancient popcorn that's been sitting in the pantry since forever.
I use one of my heavy bottomed saucepans, heat it over medium high heat, for a few minutes, pour in some oil (not olive) throw in a few kernels until they pop, then cover the bottom of the pan with popcorn kernels. I immediately cover the saucepan with a spatter screen, so that the condensation isn't held in the pot, turn the heat down to about 1/4 (you know, less half and more than minimum) and shake it once in awhile. The saucepan I use has a smooth bottom. Pouring it off into a bowl immediately the last few kernels are popping, and with the heat off, there's enough residual heat in the pot to melt a little butter or marg.
Without the butter or any salt, popcorn made this way strings better than any other method, for garlands on the Christmas tree. I used to keep a bowl and the thread and needles and cranberries for when the kids came home from school, or were watching tv, in those weeks leading up to Christmas.