My son and I are huge popcorn eaters. We love popcorn, plain and flavored. We used to keep a stock of microwave popcorn in a large variety. And then truth came out – microwave popcorn is horrendously bad for you. I have read that workers in microwave popcorn packaging plants have to wear face masks because the dust eats up their lungs. It was just heartbreaking.
I grew up with popcorn. We had an air popper and an electric oil popper. My grandmother could have made a mint had she marketed her microwave popcorn back in the 80s. She cooked nearly everything in the microwave. Popcorn was measured into a brown lunch sack and popped. It was our favorite snack.
So when I opted to trade in microwaved popcorn with air popped popcorn, I struggled. I had grown used to the dry butter on the microwave popcorn and I didn’t want to replace it with the soggy popcorn of my youth. I was torn. My mom suggested I melt butter and keep it in a spray bottle but we couldn’t figure out how to keep it from clogging.
Then I found several articles online about making popcorn snacks. It never dawned on me to spritz cooking oil on it. That might seem dumb especially when you discover that we bought a Pam knock off to try to spray on the popcorn (that was awful – it made us cough and dried so fast we couldn’t get the seasoning to stick). However, as we thought about all those combinations adhered to the popcorn with a little cooking oil we knew we had found the answer.
We purchased a spray bottle from the dollar store and filled it with oil. The bottle doesn’t mist like we would prefer but it does a good job at giving the popcorn the needed lubrication to get the seasonings to stick. I don’t think we use more than a teaspoon or two per batch which keeps the fat and calorie content still rather low. There is a problem with using oil in a spray bottle – the mechanics do plug up and then don’t work. Because we’re buying cheap spray bottles they are not fixable. And sometimes I just miss the butter flavor. So I use a spoon to drizzle melted butter or a combination of melted butter and coconut oil. We’re able to keep a variety of oils available between butter, olive oil, coconut oil, etc. All of them have been a learning experience but we’re getting it down.
We have some favorite combinations. I’m kinda boring since I like a little seasoning salt or a mix I made of sea salt with dill (blended in a coffee grinder).
My son has discovered his favorite combination is a little salt and a little sugar. Tastes just like kettle corn but requires no extra cooking. He also likes to sneak the occasional cheese packet from boxed mac and cheese.
We make up taco seasoning – lime salt, cumin, paprika, cayenne, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning (a combination of those depending on my mood). Herbs and salt are great if ground fine. You want your seasoning to stick to the oil on the popcorn. Large seasoning such as parmesan cheese don’t stick as well. We still add them because they taste good. It just means kind of dipping your pieces in the seasonings to get them to stick.
This is a super cheap snack. It costs about $1 or 2 a month. We buy 25 pound bags of organic popping corn which is about a year or so supply. It’s still about $1 a pound so it didn’t cost any more than the stuff we were picking up at Walmart. It’s always available this way. We have control over what’s on it so we can cater it to our cravings. I haven’t gotten around to making caramel corn but you will be the first to know when I do. I keep thinking about trying to make some but caramel corn isn’t my favorite. Now butter toffee is right up my alley so maybe that will be what I attempt. Imagine if I actually get good at the sweet varieties. There may be no other snack allowed in our house.