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Cooking Microwave Popcorn

 
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charley000



Joined: 20 Apr 2010
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:38 pm    Post subject: Cooking Microwave Popcorn Reply with quote

Many years ago (approximately 1970), I had a first generation microwave oven. One day my wife asked me to make some popcorn. I told her that I didn't want to get out the popcorn maker, clean it when I was done, etc.

She told me to put some popcorn in a paper bag and throw it in the microwave. I said "What?" She told me that they had these paper bags of popcorn at work. You put them the microwave oven. Obviously, this was what we now call microwave popcorn. But back then, no one had heard of it and you couldn't buy it yet in the grocery stores.

I decided to give it a try. But instead of using a paper bag, I took a CorningWare casserole dish (you know, the old white corning ware ceramic with the cornflower pattern on it -- maybe you are too young.)

I put some popcorn in, put the glass top on and put it in the microwave. I turned it on for a few minutes and nothing happened. I turned it on a little more and heard a few pops, maybe 10. I turned it on a little longer but nothing happened but I could see a little smoke.

I decided to take a look but there was a little steam/smoke coming off the lid. I am so glad that I grabbed a pot holder to take the lid off because when I touched the glass lid, the pot holder instantly caught on fire! Yes, the glass was that hot. In fact, the glass had melted! I had a stalactite of glass inside.

Well, the energy had to go somewhere. Popcorn is terrible at absorbing the microwaves. That is why the microwave popcorn you buy has so much oil in it. It is the oil that gets hot and makes the popcorn pop.

Well, glass, while a poor energy absorber, was better than the popcorn! People think that the glass won't take any of the energy but it will.
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cookrw



Joined: 16 Jan 2011
Posts: 4
Location: Oxford, OH

PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 6:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bringing an old thread back to life, but what would happen if you had the popcorn in oil when you microwaved it?
I think I might try this with my old microwave before I throw it out. (Outside with a kill switch, of course)
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1005
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

from what I understand about popcorn, the moisture in the kernels needs to be "within limits" because it is the internal water that 'explodes' from water to steam that makes the kernel pop.

theory would hold that a microwave - preferentially heating water molecules - should do a splendid job.

since the commercial m/w popcorn has a "heating pad" built into the bag - the theory is apparently not 100%.....

I wonder if the oil is just the 'butter flavorings'? can one buy 'dry' aka no butter m/w popcorn?
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charley000



Joined: 20 Apr 2010
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 5:03 pm    Post subject: Microwave Popcorn Reply with quote

No you can't buy microwave popcorn without oil (at least not in the stores). I haven't tried repeating the experiment with oil in the dish but it would probably work.

Yes there is a small amount of water inside the kernels but it is minimal and mostly bound into starch. It won't get hot enough. Try to pop popcorn at a low temperature (below 150 degrees C or 300 degrees F). You will find that the popcorn will not pop -- it has to get beyond a certain temperature for the pressure inside the kernel to build to the point where popping occurs.
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1005
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

something's not quite complete.

we used to have an "air popper" - hot air blowing kernels around - they popped. no oil, no butter, no salt, no nothing - pour the dry kernels out of the package into the air popper and let 'er rip.

not sure what the secret is, but popcorn does not require an oil bath to pop.
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charley000



Joined: 20 Apr 2010
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The air poppers (I still have one and use it all the time) get the temperature about 300 degrees. They typically have a thermal cutoff resister inside at 275 degrees C.

You don't need oil. But you need enough heat and you don't get it in a microwave without oil.
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1005
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

so I took a single serve envelop of Orville's stuff, cut it open, wiped off anything I could from the kernels by rolling them in a paper towel.

put the kernels in a covered glass bowl and popped them in the m/w on high.

at 1 min 50 secs the first kernel popped, by 3 minutes looked like most had popped so I pulled it - burnt popcorn tastes terrible.... very minor number of un-popped kernels remained.

without question there was some film of fat left on the kernels - after popping there was a thin bit of spatter oil/fake butter in the glass bowl, but nothing 'pooled' or collected on the bottom.

so, popcorn does not need to be swimming in oil to pop in a microwave.
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cookrw



Joined: 16 Jan 2011
Posts: 4
Location: Oxford, OH

PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do you think the film of oil still left on the kernels was enough to retain heat for the popcorn to pop?
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1005
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cookrw wrote:
Do you think the film of oil still left on the kernels was enough to retain heat for the popcorn to pop?


I don't think so - but I don't have any "completely dry" aka non-m/w popcorn in a can to try.....
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Jim Cooley



Joined: 09 Oct 2008
Posts: 314
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dilbert wrote:

I don't think so - but I don't have any "completely dry" aka non-m/w popcorn in a can to try.....


Which of course raises the obvious question: Does Orville Redenbacher come in a can? Big smile
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1005
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

>>in a can

dunno - will look next shopping trip.

in days of old, "popcorn" was available "plain" - whether is is still sufficiently popular to remain on the market.... no clue.

I love popcorn. was a favorite snack. but the blinking husks get under my gums and days later I've got an "inflammation" so I've pretty much given up on it.

my dear wife apparently has not the same issues - so she stocks the microwave variety.
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Cheff Wannabee



Joined: 06 Feb 2013
Posts: 11
Location: Elsie, Mi.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:27 am    Post subject: MW popcorn Reply with quote

For what it's worth, here is something I have been doing for more than 20 years with excellent results. Using a regular brown lunch bag like the kids take for school lunch, add 1/4 C. everyday popcorn like what you would use to pop in a pan with oil, fold the top once and secure with a single staple. Don't panic, that tiny bit of metal won't start a fire. Never has for me and my MW runs 1000 watts! But you can use scotch tape if it will make you feel better. Put it in the mw on high and listen for the popping to slow down. Pull it out. Don't wait for it to completely stop or you will have a lot of burned popcorn. Dump in a bowl and add what ever flavorings suit you or eat it plain from the bag.
ENJOY!
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1619
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another trick, if you don't want to use a staple or tape, is to just fold the top of the bag in half. Then in the center of the fold make two shallow rips (or cuts) about 1/4-in apart and 1/4-in deep. Take that mini-flap formed by the cuts and just fold it the other direction. Acts like a staple.
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