Popcorn Making: Leaving No Kernel Unpopped

Sometimes the little things in life are what we find to be the most frustrating. Take the act of making popcorn. Whether using a stovetop, microwave or store-bought popcorn machine, at the end of a popcorn popping endeavor, there always seems to be at least a handful of unpopped kernels left at the bottom of the cooking vessel.

Unpopped kernels can be an unwelcome and somewhat painful surprise if they should find their way to your teeth. It’s also a shame when leftover kernels end up in the garbage instead of your mouth in popped form. For snack vendors and concession business owners, discarded unpopped kernels translate into dollars and cents. But steps can be taken to greatly improve the percentages and keep unpopped kernels to a bare minimum.

Increasing the Popping Percentage

Piece Popcorn in KernelsWhen it comes to popcorn poppers and popcorn making techniques, there are many variables. But the constant is the popcorn itself. Choosing the right brand of popcorn is a major factor in achieving a thoroughly popped batch of popcorn. This may take some trial and error. But just like any product, some brands of popcorn are simply better than others.

For concessionaires, popcorn and cooking oil will often come in pre-measured bags and popping machines will generally be programmed for maximum popping efficiency. But small adjustments can still be made in regard to heating, oil amounts and agitation.

This is also important for the rest of us. Other than when using “air” popcorn machines that are built to evenly distribute kernels throughout the popping process, popcorn must continuously be agitated or shaken to allow as many kernels as possible to reach the heat source.

Other factors for popcorn popping success are being a good listener and popcorn storage. After the machine gun-like cadence at the height of a popping endeavor, listen carefully for when the popping slows down. Wait until there is a second or two between pops before removing the popcorn from the heat source. But don’t wait too long, or the popcorn will begin to burn.

Popcorn also contains a certain amount of moisture that allows it to pop effectively. So store popcorn in a tightly-sealed glass or plastic container in a cool area away from heat or sunlight.

Don’t forget that any unpopped kernels can be reused. Just add a few drops of water to moisten them up, re-insert them into your popcorn maker … and happy popping!


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