A large popcorn at the movie theater costs at least $8.00. Which is insane.
We love popcorn at our house. It is a go-to snack. But, you know me, I make it as healthy as I can.
“The laziest man I ever met put popcorn in his pancakes so they would turn over by themselves.” — W. C. Fields
Real Food, Part I
All great food starts with great ingredients and popcorn is of course no exception. Organic and non-GMO are must-haves.Sadly, organic doesn't automatically mean tastes good. That would be too easy.Click To Tweet
I’ve tried a LOT of different popcorns. I thought the bulk bins at the organic groceries would be awesome…not so much. At best, they were inconsistent. Some were inexpensive and some were not. I turned to one of my go-to producer brands, Bob’s Red Mill, but I couldn’t get an organic.
Then, in the local grocery, the one with four little aisles of organic hope, we found it: Jolly Time Organic Yellow Popcorn. It was $2.75 for a 20oz bag the last time I bought it. Perfect.
Real Food, Part II
Why does movie theater popcorn taste better than any other? Chemistry.
The “secret” ingredient movie theaters don’t want you to know… is Gold Medal Flavocal Seasoning. It is designed to smell like great popcorn and lure people into the theater. And it works, like gangbusters, no doubt. But…
Besides penicillin and codeine, I am allergic to FD&C Yellow Dyes #5 and #6, chemicals used in damn near everything (though that is slowly starting to change) and widely banned around the world. You might remember last year Kraft removed the dye from Mac & Cheese after prolonged public pressure? Well, guess what the four ingredients in Flavocal are?
If the dye doesn’t bother you, the salt might. One (1) teaspoon contains 2740mg Sodium or 114% of the daily recommended amount!
I’ve wondered why I like going to the movie theater less and less over the years. You know, despite needing to take out a loan for a family of four outing and my eyesight fading with age. Turns out the popcorn is making me ill.
My wife likes her popcorn buttered. Not quite to the popcorn is just a butter delivery mechanism like some folks but it needs to be movie-theater-like if at all possible. But if you’ve ever melted a bunch of butter and drizzled it over a bowl of freshly-popped goodness only to get some soggy and drenched kernels and others plain and desolate, then I have good news for you. And no, it’s not shake the bowl / bag more.
A typical “recipe” for popcorn on the stove includes a half-cup of popcorn, 2 tablespoons oil, then the aforementioned drizzled butter (usually 2-4 tablespoons if you’re being honest) and some salt. I use ghee. Butter is basically butterfat, milk solids, and water but ghee is butter cooked until the water is gone and the milk solids can be filtered off. It is used very frequently in Indian cooking and by restaurant chefs.
Bonus side note: lactose sensitive people often have no problems with ghee.
Since the milk solids are gone, unlike butter, ghee can be used at high heat without burning. So I use it instead of the oil and there’s no need to add butter after popping.
- 1/2 cup popcorn
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- salt, to taste
Melt the ghee over medium-high heat.
Add the popcorn and cover the pot.
When the popping seems to have just stopped, remove from heat, pour into a bowl, sprinkle with salt, and shake.
To be honest, I rarely measure these ingredients.
I use a pan that is at least as high as it is wide, typically a small dutch oven, add enough ghee to evenly coat the bottom once melted, and then add a single layer of popcorn.
No oil, a lot less butter, and every kernel tastes like it was painted evenly with butter. A richer, more buttery butter.
You can make your own ghee if you want — I’ve done it. But since a jar lasts a year in the refrigerator, I just buy it. And you can get it locally in the grocery store. It’s a little expensive, sure, but you don’t use much at a time and you’re using less oil and butter (in this case). And I buy Organic Valley Ghee because, and I’m quoting directly from the company’s own literature, “Organic Valley’s Ghee Butter is USDA Organic, gluten free, lactose free, non-GMO, Kosher, and grassfed with no artificial colors, preservatives, antibiotics, or synthetic hormones.” Sweet music to my ears.
Who says popcorn can’t be healthy?
If you want something a little different and wonderful, try putting a couple sprigs of your favorite herb in the pot while it pops (then discard, obviously). Like thyme, or rosemary, or whatever herbs you like with buttered corn.