Popcorn the Frugal Way

I’ve tried every popcorn technology known to modern people. My earliest experience was with Jiffy Pop. I shook the pan like a maraca, as the foil balloon expanded. The theatrics were always more satisfying than the corn itself, which was skimpy on the butter, and no matter how vigorously I shook, it always burned. Jiffy Pop lost its place in our household when the air popper came along. On Friday and Saturday nights we’d take the appliance down from the shelf, pour a handful of corn under the plastic hood and switch it on. It roared like a hairdryer, and after a few minutes, produced popcorn that had the flavor and consistency of styrofoam packing peanuts. Then came the microwave and with it, corn popped in oil so unnatural, that the very smell of it left a greasy residue at the back of the throat.

One night, I ran out of microwave popcorn. A desperate search of the pantry turned up the kernels left over from the air popper era. I wondered if they could be transformed with tools I already had? I poured vegetable oil into a saucepan, added the corn, melted a pat of butter, and a few minutes later I was eating the best popcorn I’d ever tasted.

It turns out that simplest, least expensive method, is also the best. Now I don’t make popcorn any other way. I even sneak my homemade popcorn into the movie theater, because it tastes so much better than movie popcorn!

Here’s my simple recipe for healthy, frugal popcorn:

You will need:

Saucepan with a lid
Vegetable oil
Popcorn kernels
Melted butter (optional)
Salt

1. Coat the bottom of the pan with vegetable oil. Adding more oil will give your corn a bit more flavor, but don’t overdo it or you’ll get a greasy aftertaste.
2. Add enough kernels to almost cover the bottom of the pan.
3. Jiggle the pan and check to be sure that every kernel is touching the bottom.
4. Put the lid on the pan and set the burner on high.
5. When popping begins to die down, turn off the heat.
6. Immediately pour the popcorn into a large bowl and shake salt onto the corn. The oil will give the corn flavor, but if you prefer a more buttery taste, melt a tablespoon of butter and pour it over the corn.

Cost comparison:
Kim’s Healthy Homemade popcorn $0.20
Jiffy Pop popcorn: $1.50
Microwave popcorn: $2.10
Movie popcorn: $5.00

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