I love popcorn. And my kids love popcorn! Plain popcorn is a healthy, crunchy, whole-food snack with only 6 grams of carbohydrate per cup (popped). What I don’t like, however, is popcorn smothered in butter, oil, and sugar and/or salt. I want it PLAIN.
I also want it to be quick, and without a lot of fuss, or an extra appliance to fiddle with. I tried Alton Brown’s Good Eats method once, but the process of shaking a metal bowl of kernels over a gas burner was cumbersome, and it turned my bowl black (and it was HOT!). I need something more kid-friendly.
Enter the microwave, the quintessential convenience tool. Throw in a bag, enter the time, stand back and listen for the POP. Great, right? Except that most of the microwave popcorn found on grocery store shelves is full of ingredients that make me cringe.
Even the few labeled “Home Style” and “Natural,” and the organic varieties, contain tons of oil (usually soybean or palm oils, sometimes partially hydrogenated) and salt. The worst offenders contain nasty ingredients like diacetyl, which gives a butter flavor, chemical preservatives and colorings, and artificial flavoring agents. To top it off, the bags are lined with PFCs (perfluorinated compounds). Yum.
So it dawned on me yesterday that there wasn’t really anything special about microwave popcorn. I have paper bags. I can buy plain popping corn. And sure enough, it was a breeze to make. Here’s what we did:
The right amount of popcorn for a brown paper lunch bag is between 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup. Our first try resulted in a bag that opened up mid-pop, so we solved that problem by threading it closed with half of a wooden skewer. I think a toothpick would work just as well.
We set our microwave for 4.5 minutes, and it finished popping around 4 minutes. Every microwave is different, so make sure you listen for when the popping slows to 1 or 2 per second to avoid burning.
Open the bag carefully (it’s hot!), pour into a bowl, and munch away! If you’re not really as into plain popcorn as I am, here are some fun recipes to try: