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Popcorn is a simple and tasty snack food that many people enjoy. In fact, popped corn as a treat has been around for centuries. With the prevalence of microwavable bags of popcorn, many people have forgotten there are other ways to prepare popcorn in the home. Here are a few examples of popcorn makers that you can purchase for use around the house.
One of the basic ways of popping popcorn is to use a deep pan with a lid and a strong handle. Often, these popping corn pans are made of cast iron or stainless steel. By placing fresh popping corn and a small amount of oil in the pan, it is possible to put the lid in place, set the pan on the eye of a stove, and gently shake the contents with the use of the handle. As the oil begins to heat up, the corn begins to pop. The constant shaking motion helps to keep the popped corn from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan.
An old fashioned popcorn maker that was created for use over an open fire is still available today. As with the stovetop model, popcorn makers of this type also have a body made of cast iron or stainless steel. The handle is longer and often a combination of metal and wood. The long handle makes it possible to fill the popcorn maker and hold it over an open fire at a campsite or the fireplace without getting too close to the flames.
Hot oil popcorn makers were the most popular devices for popping corn prior to the invention of microwave popcorn. Powered by electrical current, the base of the popper is a simple shallow bowl that is treated with a non-stick surface. Oil and popcorn are placed in the bowl and a plastic dome is placed over the corn. As the oil heats, the corn pops and is contained by the dome. When the corn is popped, the dome doubles as a serving bowl. Popcorn makers of this type often have a venting reservoir on the base of the dome that allows butter to melt onto the corn as it pops.
A healthier method of popping corn is the hot air popcorn machine. Air popcorn makers made it unnecessary to utilize oil as a medium for heating the kernels and causing the corn to pop. Instead, a steady flow of hot air raises the temperature of the kernels and gently pops the corn. Most types of the air popper use a design that allows the popped corn to flow out of the popper and into a bowl.
While microwave popcorn is often the popcorn of choice today, it is still possible to purchase the more traditional popcorn makers. While many retail stores no longer carry these older poppers, it is possible to purchase popcorn makers of every type by shopping online. Bags of loose popcorn, as well as jars of popcorn in oil, can still be purchased in many supermarkets.
My best friend's family got one of those hot air poppers when they came out about 1978 or so. We were really excited. What a ripoff! The popcorn was dry and tasteless unless you drizzled so much butter on it that it made any lowfat claims useless. It was fun to watch, but my mom made popcorn in a popper on top of the stove that was way, way better.
I remember Jiffy Pop, which came in the aluminum pan and had a handle. You put it on top of the stove and shook it and it ballooned the foil on top out. It actually worked pretty much like the ads on TV said it did, and it wasn't bad popcorn. I still like the kind popped in hot oil or in a real popper like they have at the movies. Nothing smells better than hot popcorn, either.
We had something like the hot oil popper, but ours had a glass top, and it was all metal. You couldn't use it for serving, because the outside got hot.
I remember we had popcorn seasoning we mixed with the oil and put in the bottom of the popper, along with about 2 tablespoons of popcorn kernels. That made enough for four people! I don't remember it taking too long. Maybe 10 minutes or so. And we didn't get too many "old maids" in the bottom, that I remember. It was good popcorn, too.
The main advantage to microwave popcorn is all the different flavors. Hot oil popped is better, though.
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