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How do you keep popcorn from getting stale?

Does anyone know how the commercial manufacturers help the popcorn from getting stale without adding unnatural preservatives? Is it bad to add fresh herbs (garlic=botullism?) and fruit to popcorn if you want it to stay out for a long time (day or week)?

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  1. Enclose it in an airtight cannister or plastic zip bags to store and only put out a dish at a time -- as much as might be eaten in a day. I have a popcorn-cereal snack mix recipe I routinely make in December for the holidays and it stays good through New Years. I use dried, not fresh, herbs and fruit.

    1. By 'stale' do you mean loosing its crunch, like crackers that have been sitting in the pantry for 6 months? That's basically a moisture issue.

      Staleness in bread is a different matter. There the starches crystalize with time, so the bread becomes hard without drying out. Sugars, fat, and proteins slow that down.

      Preservatives have a different purpose, preventing fermentation and the growth of mold.

      So if keeping the popcorn dry is the key, then dry seasonings are a must. For a garlic flavor I would use garlic powder rather than mashed or sliced fresh. Powder is also easier to distribute evenly.

      1. I am a popcorn fanatatic I put mine in a big acrylic ceral container- with a brown sugar bear( a little clay bear you put in brown sugar so it doesnt cake)

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            +1 Why keep it around when it is so easy to make fresh?

            1. Thanks for the answers. Yes, I guess I will have to try to figure a way to keep the air out.

              Is there any natural ingredients that help preserve popcorn other than oil and salt?

              1 Reply
              1. re: SundayBrunch

                can't you just make smaller batches? it takes less than 5 minutes to make.

              2. You're not going to get botullism from adding garlic to popcorn. Botullism only develops in anaerobic (no oxygen) conditions. That's why it's found in canned goods or in foods packed in oil, such as garlic used to infuse olive oil. Fresh garlic will not cause botullism.

                1. Can you add fresh garlic or cream to popcorn and leave it out for a couple of days without it going bad?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: SundayBrunch

                    'bad', as in soft and stale, or spoiled with bacteria or mold growth?

                    1. re: paulj


                      If anyone knows how to prevent it from getting soft/stale or growing harmful bacteria.


                      1. re: SundayBrunch

                        cream with popcorn?

                        i don't see how you can douse popcorn with liquid and keep it crunchy, nor how to keep cream from spoiling at room temp.

                        as for garlic, you may have better luck with making garlic-infused oil or even using dried garlic powder.

                        you may want to just make a batch of plain popcorn and then reheat with whatever concoctions you have in mind.

                  2. I mean like cream in a caramel sauce.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: SundayBrunch

                      this is the ingredients list for fiddle faddle:

                      Ingredients (17):
                      Corn Syrup, Sugar Brown, Sugar, Popcorn, Peanut(s), Butter (Cream, Salt) , Salt, Cottonseed Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Corn Oil Partially Hydrogenated and/or, Soybean(s) Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Flavor(s) Natural, Baking Soda, Soy Lecithin, BHA, BHT

                      the last couple of ingredients are chemical preservatives. they use those and put the stuff in a hermetically sealed bag. if making something like this at home, it's for same-day consumption, it won't keep crunchy for even a few days. sorry.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        BHA and BHT have nothing to do with keeping the crunch.

                        "BHA and BHT are antioxidants. Oxygen reacts preferentially with BHA or BHT rather than oxidizing fats or oils, thereby protecting them from spoilage."

                        'spoilage' in this case means the fat goes rancid. It's an off flavor that can develop over months (depending on storage temperature). It won't taste good, but it's not dangerous to eat.

                        1. re: paulj

                          i only said that bha and bht are preservatives.

                          and while rancid oil won't kill you on the spot, it accrues into substantial physiological damage. since most commercially fried products are made with over-processed/rancid oils the bha bit is akin to closing the barn door after the horse ran off long ago.

                    2. Why don't you experiment? Make your large batch, and season and store small quantities in various ways. Then taste them a various times. My guess is that the popcorn will become soft and/or stale long before it becomes dangerous to eat. If there is enough moisture (in the seasoning or storage) to grow mold it will become soft first.

                      Think for example of what happens to bread. Leave it out in the open it becomes stale, and then dry. Leave it wrapped up it grows mold before becoming dry.

                      Think about how your seasonings are stored. Dry herbs and salt can stay on the shelf for a long time, though some loose flavor. Fruit and fruit juice either grows mold or ferments. Dairy and meat grow dangerous bacteria left out. The exceptions being meat that is left to dry (jerky), preserved with salt and nitrates, or heavily sweetened dairy (caramel sauce).

                      1 Reply
                      1. I don't think I understand they question? Are you looking for a method that would allow for shelf stable product that last not just days but a week or more?? Why are needing to store it at all. Homemade popcorn in most forms is best served fresh.

                        If its just seasoned you want your best best is to store in airtight containers. Even so popcorn will lose is crunch pretty quickly. If would be become undesirable long before getting to a state to make you ill. You might have better luck popping it "dry" via a hot air popper or microwave. And seasoning before consuming. You can also get storage jars with the moisture free tops they sell for crackers but again the shelf life would short.

                        If you are talking coated popcorn like popcorn balls, those are usually best stored in air tight containers and refrigerated. Again, they would become less desirable, soggy/sticky long before they would make you ill.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: foodieX2

                          I am searching on how to make popcorn more shelf-stable.

                        2. Thanks,

                          Well, I notice that some popcorn companies use natural ingredients, but I wonder if you use butter if you can use oil or sugar as a preservative.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: SundayBrunch

                            Sugar is a preservative only when used in jam concentrations.

                            Butter and oil only preserve with they completely cover the item, thus excluding oxygen. But then you have to watch out for anaerobic bacteria (botulism).

                            I think those are flavoring ingredients, not preservatives (of any kind).