Are you tired of unpopped kernels in the bottom of your bowl? Or does the smell of burnt popcorn sending your running out of the house?
This post will help you to better time your popcorn so that you have the highest potential of perfectly popped popcorn to snack on for your next movie night. Let us help you get your timing right so you can avoid those unwanted unpopped kernels.
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There is nothing more unsatisfying than pouring your popped popcorn into a bowl and find yourself with half a bowl of kernels.
Getting all your popcorn to pop is one of the most frustrating parts of popcorn making. It's probably why some people opt to buy bags of pre-popped popcorn. You are not one of those people right? 🙂
Today I wanted to share with you some tips on how to cut down on your disappointment by reducing the number of unpopped kernels in your bowl.
? Top Tip
Our number 1 tip for reducing unpopped kernels is trial and error.
Woah, wait a second. Don't hit the back button yet. I am serious here.
There are so many factors that go into popping popcorn that trial and error is just going to be part of the game.
Here are the factors you have to take in to consideration:
- Type of kernels (including how old they are)
- Heat source
- Cooking vessel
- The oil use you, if you use any
If you give you a method that I find works perfectly for me on the stove top, but I am using a different type of popcorn, then your results are going to be different.
It's not about coming out with the perfect formula, it's about learning applying the best techniques and then practicing with them in your own kitchen.
⏲️ Microwave Popping Time
Average microwave popcorn popping time - 2 ½ to 3 ½ minutes.
Let's take a look at how to come up with your popping time for the microwave.
This is assuming you are using one of these microwave methods, not a bag of microwave popcorn, which I strongly recommend against ever using (often contain nasty ingredients).
What you must take into account with a microwave is it's power. Back in January I popped popcorn at my mother in-law's house and my sister in-law's house. Their microwaves are very different in how powerful they are. My mother in-law's was far more powerful.
Let me show you.
The picture above is using the Salbree silicone popcorn popper to pop it in the microwave. There was enough popcorn in it to push up the silicone lid that goes on top to keep the popcorn in. When I popped the same amount of popcorn and the same type in my sister in-law's, less powerful microwave, I never got enough popcorn to push the lid up.
Maybe I could have but I would have burned a lot of it instead. I would rather have unpropped kernels than burned ones.
It's hard to pin point an actual time and say that to you. My experience with using multiple microwaves and many different varieties of popcorn is that it takes between 2 ½ to 3 ½ minutes to pop popcorn.
If I am trying out a new variety or a new microwave I start at 3 ½ minutes. I don't leave the room. I listen for the popcorn to start popping, once it begins to slow down or stop for a couple seconds, I stop the microwave. If there time left I know I can reduce it next time. If the popcorn is still popping strongly when the time is up, I add a little more time (10-20 seconds), the next time through.
⌚ Stove Popping Times
Your average stove top popping time is around 3 minutes.
I think when it comes to popping on the stove, it's even harder to pin point the popping times. You have more variables. What type of stove top you have is going to make the difference here. A gas stove is going to heat up faster than other types.
It comes down to listening to the sound. Once the popcorn starts to slow down, you have to pull it.
The vessel you pop in makes a big difference. We have used a Whirly Pop in the past with mixed results. The problem with it, is that the pot is light, so it's not great for heat conduction. The whole idea of it is that you have a crank to turn to help keep the popcorn moving so the popped stuff doesn't burn. We still have managed to burn it though! I know people swear by it.
In the past I have seen Alton Brown use a heavy duty mixing bowl with a pair of tongs to move it around. Foil covers the top and is poked with holes for steam to escape.
The bowl shape is great because popped kernels will move to the top and the unpopped ones will be on the bottom til they pop. It's a concept that works really well and takes about 3 minutes (again depending on all the factors we already discussed.
The nice thing about the bowl method is that you can eat the popcorn right out of it (once it has cooled) without having to dirty any more dishes. However, I have heard of people complaining that their bowls got discolored because of this, you have to be ok with your bowl not looking perfect.
? Air Popper
With air poppers time isn't so much a factor. The popcorn is popped and then shot out of the popper with air. It moves away from the heat source so you are less likely to burn. It can be the best choice for getting the most popped kernels.
There are some negatives.
- It's another appliance to have in your kitchen
- You can burn out the motor if you have to pop several batches in a row
- Some types of kernels don't do well (I have had smaller kernels just fly right out)
If you are using just the standard yellow or white kernels found at all grocery stores, you have the space for one, and you aren't popping for a crowd, then by all means get an air popper and you don't have to be concerned with time.
? Can I Re-Pop Kernels?
I have tried this before by microwaving the kernels twice, with not very good results.
Maybe a couple will pop still but it's never been worth the effort in my opinion. I think once the kernels begin to heat up and then cool back down, they don't pop well if you try to reheat them again.
Why Some Kernels Don't Pop?
Also these kernels might not have popped no matter what. There needs to be some moisture in the kernels themselves for them to pop open. It's steam inside the kernels that causes them to pop, which is why you want the freshest popcorn you can get as kernels can loose moisture over time.
? More Popcorn Posts
Pop your popcorn like a champ by checking out these posts. The only thing "corny" about them is the popcorn itself!