Freshly popped corn on the stovetop takes only 120 seconds. Really. (And is healthier than the microwave version.) Here are our tips how not to screw it up.
1. The right pot
- You'll need at least a 3 or 4-litre saucepan with a tight-fitting lid to make enough popcorn for four people.
2. The right ratio
- ⅓ cup (70 g) of popcorn kernels makes about 7 cups of popcorn, enough for two to three not-too-greedy people. You'll need 2 tbsp (40 ml) of oil for cooking.
- ½ cup (110 g) of popcorn kernels makes about 10 cups of popcorn, enough for four not-too-greedy people. You'll need 3 tbsp (60 ml/¼ cup) of oil for cooking.
3. Have your popcorn seasoning or flavoured butter prepared
Popcorn needs to be piping hot for salt or seasoning to stick, or flavoured butter to coat lusciously. Have this prepared before you begin popping the corn.
4. The bigger the bowl the better
Get out the biggest mixing bowl you have to toss the popcorn. If you only have small bowls, toss the popcorn in batches. Don't be lazy and toss in the saucepan you cooked the popcorn in. It just won't work.
5. The right oil
- Use an oil with a high smoking point, such as canola, vegetable or peanut. You can use olive oil (but not extra-virgin).
- Don't use butter (because it will burn and you'll get nasty black bits all over your popcorn); instead use ghee (also called clarified butter), which will give you a lovely buttery flavour without the burnt bits.
- Health obsessives may want to use coconut oil.
- Not-health obsessives will want to try lard, bacon fat, duck fat, wagyu fat, schmaltz (chicken fat).
- Heat the oil in your saucepan over medium heat. To test if the oil is hot enough, add a popcorn kernel to the oil; if it spins, then the oil is ready. The oil shouldn’t be smoking; if it is, remove from the heat until it stops smoking, then return to the heat.
- Add all the popcorn kernels to the saucepan, swirl to cover the kernels with the oil, cover with the lid and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, for 1 minute 45 seconds or until the popping sounds have slowed down to one every second or stopped.
6. Use your hands to toss
Your hands are better than tongs, especially when it comes to tossing through butter — it's the best way to avoid soggy popcorn). Tip the popcorn into your large bowl/s, immediately toss with half of the seasoning or butter until all the popcorn is well coated, then add the remaining seasoning or butter and toss again.
Popcorn Cup 2014 recipes
31 nights (and early mornings) of popcorn for World Cup fans.
With a sharp peppery hit, fennel kick and spike of citrus, this popcorn is as delicious as it is simple.
A salty-sweet combination of cumin-spiced popcorn, crisp curry leaves, peanuts and currants — it's a play on the Indian bar mix known as bhuja or chiwda.
An epic tapa for the defending World Cup Spanish champions: smoky paprika popcorn combined with almonds and chorizo baked until crisp. Get everything in one bite.
Spiced with chilli and cinnamon, this Aztec-inspired popcorn is just the right amount of sweet.
Popcorn inspired by the flavours of Portugal’s piri piri charcoal-roasted chicken.
The unofficial* snack of the Socceroos: parmesan, mustard and fried sage popcorn.
* Totally made up.
Find our full Popcorn Cup collection - developed for the 2014 World Cup - here.