Popcorn Accidents

Making popcorn is dangerous. My top two kitchen accidents happened while making popcorn. First there was fire. In my early 20s, I invited a date over to watch a movie. I thought homemade popcorn would be a nice touch. I placed oil in a pot, turned it on high, and then retreated to my bedroom to quickly finish getting ready. I returned to near ceiling-high flames. Yes, this is how people burn down kitchens. Luckily, that didn’t happen to me. I managed to turn off the heat and place a lid on the pot. We watched the movie while snacking on saltines.

Lesson learned: Ask the date to bring the popcorn.

Second, there was an explosion. I had recently learned that you could make popcorn in the microwave with a paper bag. Brilliant. It’s a fraction of the cost of store bought microwave popcorn, you know exactly what you are eating and there are no perfluorooctanoic acid lined bags. When I ran out of paper bags, I thought why not try a glass bowl with a lid. I recently told my friend Christine this, and she laughed and said something like “Everyone knows you can’t microwave glass covered dishes.” Almost everybody.

I placed the oil and popcorn in a glass casserole dish and covered it with the lid. Shut the door and turned it on high. The gentle popping sound was followed by a big “BOOM.” Oops. One of my much-used casserole dishes exploded. It didn’t just crack in half; it shattered into tiny little pieces. The microwave nicely contained the disaster, but we kept finding glass bits for weeks.

I was surprised the microwave even worked after that. I still shy away from it. This week I started to use it to store flour (a tip I got from “Cooks Illustrated.”) I keep waiting for my husband to protest. I imagine it is coming.

Lesson learned: Microwaves are great for storage.

I finally mastered cooking popcorn. I make it on the stovetop in about five minutes. This method makes the best tasting popcorn and it is easy and cheap. A big bag of popcorn kernels will last forever. You only need a third of a cup to make a large bowl of the snack.

My new favorite popcorn topping is nutritional yeast. I first bought it for our dogs. My aunt told me that a sprinkle or two on their food is good for them. I then discovered that it is delicious. It has a tasty, cheesy flavor. It also supplies a bit of protein and a good dose of B-complex vitamins. I’ve been adding it to everything, but especially love it on popcorn. You can find nutritional yeast in the bulk section of most health food stores.

Of course, I also always add melted butter. Everything is better with a little melted butter!

Stovetop Popcorn

3 Tablespoons olive or coconut oil (I use a combo. Other types of vegetable oils will work, I just feel these two are the healthier option. )
1/3 cup popcorn kernels


  • Heat the oil in a 3-4 quart saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Place 3 popcorn kernels into the oil and cover the pan.
  • When the kernels pop, the oil is ready. Add the rest of the popcorn kernels. Cover and gently shake pan to distribute kernels.
  • Once the popping starts, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner. Keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release (but be careful to keep all popped kernels in the pot).
  • Once the popping slows, remove the pan from the heat. Remove the lid, and dump the popcorn into a wide bowl. While hot, season as desired.

Makes 2 quarts.

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One Response to “Popcorn Accidents”

  1. Susan Donckers says:

    Thanks, great tip!! I do love pop corn!

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