Any popcorn lovers out there?
It’s one of our favorites! Whether we’re binging on the latest season of Shark Tank or falling asleep to the theme song from Twin Peaks, the peppy kernel makes a regular appearance in our home.
Microwave popcorn bags are convenient but, as many of you probably know, come with safety concerns. Stovetop popcorn is a great alternative but not always the most convenient nor portable (say, for the office) not to mention the nasty smell and messy clean-up it can leave behind when a gaggle of teenagers rip through your home.
The method we’ve been using lately takes into consideration both health and convenience – plus, it makes amazing tasting popcorn!
Some quick background –
The two main safety concerns with microwave popcorn bags involve the flavor additive diacetyl (a chemical used in butter flavoring that’s released in fumes when you open the bag) and the use of the chemical PFOA in the lining of the bags.
- Diacetyl has been linked to lung disease (identified in workers of popcorn factories) who habitually inhaled the ‘buttery’ fumes. Manufacturers began replacing diacetyl with other additives (such as pentanedione) only to discover that it too pauses health concerns — so when the label says “diacetyl free” you’re not necessarily home free. Additives can be tricky business.
- PFOA is a synthetic chemical used in the lining of the bags (the same stuff used in non-stick cookware before the outcry). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified a number of health concerns with PFOA including its role as a possible carcinogen (no long term studies have been conducted on humans however the chemical has been shown to cause cancer tumors in animal studies).
Plausible alternatives –
Electric air poppers – air poppers often come up as an alternative — quick, mess-free and customizable (no mystery additives). So far so good. The problem is that most electric air poppers on the market today are made with BPA containing plastics so they are not ones that I would choose. If you go this route, you’ll want to make sure the manufacturer is using BPA free parts (with safe equivalents).
Another path –
Silicone microwavable bowls – the same material used in colorful bakeware/cooking utensils (spatulas, muffin liners, cake pans, etc) is now available in the form of microwavable popcorn bowls (with 100% silicone lids).
Silicone is a rubber that contains bonded silicon – a natural element, abundant in sand and rock – and oxygen. It is heat resistant with a thermal stability that allows it to be used in the oven/microwave/freezer and dishwasher. Food-grade silicone is deemed inert and non-reactive – there is no evidence of it emitting fumes or leaching into food the way plastics can. It is flexible, lightweight, naturally nonstick and easy to clean. It also offers some ecological advantages being reusable and allowing for the replacement of popcorn bags (as well as paper muffin liners, ‘baggies’ and other plastics used in storage). Its lightweight nature also means that it’s easy to transport and store (you can tote it along to the office or bring it on vacation with you!).
And, I have to say, it creates great tasting popcorn!
So while we won’t be giving up popcorn made on the stove anytime soon, the silicone bowls have afforded us some flexibility and been a welcome addition to our rotation.
Of the methods we’ve tried, our favorite approach is to pop the corn “dry” in the bowl (nothing added) we find this creates the fluffiest, freshest tasting popcorn (with the fewest kernels left behind) – once popped, we add our melted fat (typically butter or coconut oil) followed by seasonings of choice (I especially like chile/lime, my son loves mesquite, my husband eats them all). You have full control over what and how much you want to add and that’s a beautiful thing.
By the way, I’ve started using rosemary as an aromatic (the things you figure out when you have two rosemary bushes!) – I’ve discovered it works wonders in drinks and popcorn ~ I don’t eat it but if I plunge a sprig or two into the bowl, I’ll pick up delicious wafts of rosemary while nibbling, add a little sea salt + nutritional yeast (tastes like cheese) and it’s quite a heavenly experience.
So tell me…
What is your favorite popcorn seasoning? And, (if I haven’t kept you too long), please share your top TV series and/or movie recommendations – inquiring pups want to know!