How To: Make Popcorn

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Microwave popcorn was all over the news today. Diacetyl, which adds that buttery taste, can cause lung damage when heated and inhaled - leading to a potentially fatal condition known as "popcorn workers’ lung."

And that's not all - Angela at Shelterrific pointed us to this article: Plastic Ocean, which says that one of the chemicals used to treat microwave popcorn bags has serious health risks.

So, whether you like your popcorn plain, salty, buttery, or sweet, chances are you're looking for another way to make it. Here's the basics on making popcorn yourself - with or without a bag.

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1. Stovetop, in a pan - The old-fashioned way, the way most of us made popcorn before these bags came along. All you need is a big pot with a lid. This method, while great for the home, doesn't help those of us who like our popcorn at the office.

• Take a deep heavy pan - at least 4 quarts. Film the bottom lightly with corn or vegetable oil and set over medium heat. Pour in popcorn kernels in one layer, no more, and cover tightly. When you hear popping start, take the handles and shake back and forth to keep the kernels distributed evenly. When the popping slows, turn off the heat and remove the lid. Hey presto - snowy kernels! Salt or drizzle real butter on top.

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2. Stovetop, in a Whirley-Pop - We have a friend who loves her Whirley-Pop so much it was probably the first thing she packed when she moved. The Whirley-Pop is a large deep pan with a hinged lid and a built-in crank to turn the kernels and help them pop evenly. Otherwise, it's just like the method above. Stovetop, light oil, kernels. Also not practical for work, but it makes a great bowl of popcorn. If you have a bag-a-day habit, this one-use tool might be worth it.

• You can buy one for $23.31 at Amazon.

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3. Air popper - This reeks of the 80s to us, these air poppers. Does anyone still use them for popcorn? Most of our friends who have these actually use them for roasting coffee! We always found their popcorn a little too chewy, too much like Styrofoam. But in the face of the microwave bag issues, we can see them making a comeback.

• This Orville Redenbacher Hot Air Popper is $20.41 at Amazon.

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4. Microwave Bowl - You can easily pop popcorn in the microwave without a pre-filled bag. This Presto PowerPop is a bowl that goes in the microwave, and it claims to be quite a bit more efficient and thorough than bagged microwave popcorn. More kernels for the bang.

Presto PowerPop, $13.44 at Amazon.

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5. DIY Microwave Bags - And if you just have to have your little bag of microwave popcorn, it's not hard to do it yourself without all those nasty chemicals. Just grease a basic brown paper lunch bag and shake in some kernels. Microwave and eat.

• Find detailed instructions at Instructables and Treehugger. We're going to try this out ourselves and let you know how it goes!

So that's how to make popcorn without a microwave-ready bag. What's your favorite method?

Related Popcorn Links
Peanut Butter Popcorn
Good Product:West Bend Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper

(Image credit: NASA)