Popcorn is not only popular and fun, but can also be healthful. When made the right way, from scratch, it is whole grain, high in fiber, relatively low in calories and fat, and it does fill you up.
Why make it yourself? Several reasons:
I recently visited a fair, where an older couple made popcorn the old fashioned way, in a big pot, over direct heat. People just stopped to watch, it was such a novelty. The children were quite amazed at this backyard science experiment.
The aroma was that of real food, made fresh, and the taste was so much better than any popcorn I had in a long time.
The microwavable popcorns usually have an artificial buttery flavor. They contain either hydrogenated oil and trans fat, or have replaced those with palm oil, which is a highly saturated oil and not much better. We have recently learned that microwavable popcorn contains diacetyl, a natural flavor that gives it the butter aroma. Heated diacetyl becomes a vapor and, when inhaled over a long period of time, inflames the small airways in the lungs and scars them. The severe form of the disease is called bronchiolitis obliterans or “popcorn workers’ lung,” which is untreatable and can be fatal. Until now considered a risk only to popcorn factory workers, it is now suggested that a patient, who is a very heavy user of microwavable popcorn, may be suffering from the same disease.
In this recipe I add fresh sage to the popcorn. It gives the popcorn sophistication and spark, but also adds a lot of health benefits.
The amount of antioxidants added to this dish by the 2 tablespoons of sage, is equivalent to 1 cup strawberries, or ½ cup of blueberries, or 5 oranges, or 8 tomatoes. We added all that, without adding any significant amounts of calories. You can double and triple the amount of sage in this recipe, and still not overdo it.
What you need:
A large, preferably heavy, pot with lid
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
2 tablespoons flavorless, high-temperature oil (canola or corn are good choices)
½ cup organic popcorn kernels
Add the oil to the pot over medium heat. Throw a couple kernels of corn in the pot and cover it. When those kernels of corn have popped, your oil is heated enough to start.
Add the rest of your popcorn, fine salt and the sage. Cover the pot and shake it to coat the popcorn with oil. Continue to cook, covered, and shake the pot occasionally (every 20-30 seconds is probably sufficient). Keep this up until the popping basically stops.
Adjust salt to taste.
At this point you can add some of the additions below.
Truffle oil- add 1-2 tablespoons of good truffle oil to the popped corn
Butter- sure, you can add melted butter to the popped corn.
Rosemary- replaces the sage. Very good.
- If your popcorn doesn’t pop into fluffy, crunchy kernels, it may have lost some of its moisture. Those unpoppable kernels are called "Old Maids”, a politically incorrect term. Popability depends on water. As the kernel heats up, water inside it releases steam, putting more and more pressure on the kernel until it explodes. Rejuvenate “dry” popcorn by putting it in a closed jar adding a little water. Cover and shake occasionally until all the water is absorbed. In two to four days it should be perfect for popping.
- If the pot is very tightly covered, the steam released by the kernels can make the popcorn less crisp. If that happens, set the lid very slightly ajar, or lift the lid a few times to let the steam out.
- If you really want to use the microwave, but make your own: Take regular kernels and throw them in a medium size paper lunch bag. Fold over the top 3-4 times. Put the bag in the microwave for a few minutes. It will pop fantastically and the bag will not burn. Add butter and salt.