Once you try making popcorn on the stovetop, it’s hard to go back to the microwaved stuff. Once you find out how fast, easy and incredibly cheap it can be to make, it will become your go-to dish for neighborhood potlucks, wine-fueled book clubs, happy hours in the backyard, kids’ (and grownups’) birthday parties and more.
Here are four solid reasons why stovetop is the way to go:
1. You’re worried about chemicals in your food
Microwave popcorn has been around since the early ’80s, and while it’s still ubiquitous in dorms and office break rooms everywhere, many people continue to voice concerns about the chemicals floating around in those packets. Manufacturers did stop using the harmful chemical diacetyl back in 2007, but there still are troublesome substances in the packaging itself, since many contain the “forever chemical” perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
Tasha Stoiber, senior scientist at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, told HuffPost: “PFAS is used to make the popcorn bag grease-resistant so oils and grease don’t leak through it. When the popcorn bag is heated, the PFAS from the bag can get transferred to the oils on the popcorn, and then gets into your body when you eat it.” That’s especially concerning because, in addition to affecting the immune system and a number of other organs and functions, PFAS can reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.
“Microwave popcorn could also contain the preservative TBHQ, which should be avoided due to its potential to harm the immune system,” Stoiber said. “If you’re taking steps to avoid PFAS in food, that should include avoiding microwave popcorn.” The takeaway? One of the best things about stovetop popcorn is that you can be sure that the only things in each batch will be popcorn, oil and maybe a little bit of salt.
2. Stovetop can make twice as much in half the time
While microwave popcorn has been marketed around the idea of speed and convenience, the fact is that stovetop popcorn makes about twice as much popcorn in about half the time.
“You can make 6 quarts of superior-tasting popcorn in just three minutes,” Dani Paluchniak, president of Wabash Valley Farms, maker of the Whirley Pop stovetop popcorn popper, told HuffPost. “All you need to do is put 1/2 cup popcorn kernels and 1 to 3 tablespoons of oil in the popper, then place it on medium heat. Turn the crank slowly, and in about three minutes, when the sound of popping stops or the handle becomes hard to turn, you’re done.” Check out this video of Paluchniak giving a demonstration.
To make stovetop popcorn in a more traditional pot, it takes a little bit longer ― about 10 minutes. You’ll need a heavy-bottomed pot (with a lid!) and 2 tablespoons oil for every 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels. Get the full set of instructions from blogger and popcorn enthusiast Cookie + Kate.
3. You love to customize it just the way you like it
Perhaps you think melted white chocolate makes every salty snack better. Or maybe you want to see what happens to M&Ms when you drop them into a hot popper of freshly popped corn (FYI, it’s magical). Love the tang of sharp cheese? Toss it on. Just wait until your batch has finished popping, add any ingredients or seasonings you want, then give the crank a few vigorous turns. Stand back and wait for the kind of adoring praise that a bag of microwave popcorn never earns.
4. You want to cut back on your food waste and carbon footprint
Microwave popcorn inevitably contains a number of unpopped kernels. That’s not so with the stovetop method, thanks to its even distribution of heat.
“When we go to trade shows and do demonstrations, people are always amazed when the popped corn is poured into a bowl — and every single kernel has popped,” Paluchniak said. And stovetop popcorn leftovers keep for a couple days, so you can reduce food waste even further by using it for the next day’s lunch as a crunchy crouton for soups or salads. Finally, when you consider how many batches of popcorn you’ll get from one small bag of kernels, the carbon footprint of the other stuff earns is an eco-thumbs-down.
The tools you need to make stovetop popcorn
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Whirley Pop Popcorn Popper
A medium-sized saucepan (for regular amounts of popcorn)
A huge stock pot, for when you want to make loads of popcorn