Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Homemade Kettle Corn

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.

Lately my toddler, has been on a bit of a hunger strike. Toddlers, should you have the good fortune of knowing one, do that. It's not a strike exactly, nothing in the Gandhi school of hunger strikes: toddlers will eat foods resembling sweets and there is no noble cause for which they are suffering, or more accurately causing you to suffer (unless, of course, you consider the consumption of only cookies a noble cause, in which case food striking toddlers have high causes indeed).

Generally, a toddler on a food strike just doesn't want to eat a few little foods, you know, accessory foods, things like meat, cheese, pasta, rice, most breads, soup, most sandwiches, casseroles, most fruits, vegetables, and any of a number of foods they ate and thoroughly enjoyed just last week, sometimes even pizza. And, while I do enjoy a (healthy I assure you) love affair with breakfast cookies, I refuse to feed them to my child only and always. A cruel lot, we mothers.

Fortunately for me, Emma also loves popcorn. We've been making a lot of it, often for lunch since she's been turning up her nose at the PBJ's I give her. (And by turning up her nose, I do mean opening the sandwich up, smearing the contents all over her face, her hair, her clothes, her chair, and any unlucky creatures who happen to come within arm's reach; and then throwing the remnants on the floor and screaming merrily.)

Popcorn is lovely on many levels. It's a whole grain that only takes a few minutes to pop. And I can sweep it off the floor instead of crawling around with a washcloth looking for smears of it.

However, I do occasionally find myself wanting to change it up. Cue, kettle corn.

Until recently, I considered it kettle corn a miracle of county fair/Orville Redenbacher Frankensteinian science, but no my friends--it is real; it is natural; it is wonderful. Below I will unveil it's many (fine, few) secrets.

1. You can make this with canola oil. It's fine. It's even good. I tried it and we ate it and we were happy. But if you want to make it really really taste like kettle corn and to be just so wonderfully good, you should make it with coconut oil. In fact it is so much better with coconut oil that, if you like kettle corn, I would say it's worth purchasing coconut oil for this purpose alone. (Afraid of coconut oil; don't be. Have a look here at it's many benefits.)

2. Heat your oil first, then add the sugar and the kernels together. Do not add the sugar with the oil. You will risk burning the sugar. And while you can sprinkle the sugar on at the end (a la salt), it's better and more kettle-corn-like if you add it in with the corn kernels.

3. You can probably kind of sort of do this in a popcorn popper, but to get it really good, you'll need to do it on the stove top. Have a look here to see how easy peasy (and super fun) this is. Someday I will make a video. Pinky promise.

Homemade Kettle Corn
Makes, I don't know, let's say 4 cups
Cook time: 7-ish minutes
Cost: $.10

1/4 C popcorn kernels
2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp sugar
sprinkle salt (optional and I didn't do)

Note: If you do use canola oil for this, you'll need a little more; I don't know why. Try 3-4 Tbsp, but really put the coconut oil on your shopping list. A lot of Walmarts are even selling it now.

Put oil in a 2 quart pot (one that has a lid). Add 2-3 kernels popcorn with the oil. Put lid on and turn heat to medium. Let the oil heat, tilting the pan occasionally (especially if your stove top is uneven like mine). When the kernels pop, you know the oil is hot enough. Add the rest of the kernels and the sugar. Put the lid on. Tip the pan to swirl the kernels in oil and sugar.

Every few seconds, tilt or shake the pan (shake it from side to side, not up and down and hold the lid on with your other hand). Your kernels will start popping. Keep shaking the pan every few seconds. When the popping slows down considerably, take the pan off the heat. Take the lid off, but be careful of renegade poppers; they could burn you. Sprinkle on a bit of salt if that's your thing (another sprinkle of sugar wouldn't hurt either).



  1. We bought popcorn kernels instead of the microwave pop last week, and we'll never go back! It tastes so much better. My first experiment was similar to this, only I added the sugar with the oil and had a sticky caramelized burnt mess. I'll have to look for some coconut oil and try your way.
    It looks like we have the same blue dishes:)

  2. I got the caramelized mess too on one try. Ah well.

  3. Added maple syrup (not table syrup) instead of sugar...yum



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