Similar to popcorn, and yet completely different from it, kettle corn will surely bring back memories from going to fairs and carnivals. It has a unique aroma, which is easily distinguishable anywhere, while its lightly golden crispy and crunchy coat will melt in the salty-sweet flavor as soon as you taste it. If you’re longing for that familiar taste of childhood and fun, yet you want to spare the trip to your local fairgrounds, you can easily make your own, home-made kettle corn in just a few minutes.
You might wonder, however, what’s the secret behind the inimitable taste of kettle popcorn, because, at first sight, they are quite similar to classic popcorn. But right here is the trick! Normal popcorn has a neutral flavor, thus it can work well with all types of toppings
, whereas kettle popcorn is, in its true nature, sweet, with only a tint of salt
. Additionally, while both types are made with a special type of corn which is made to burst open when faced with hot air or hot oil, the preparation process differs greatly.
While it is sweeter than the classic, salty popcorn, yet not as sweet as caramel corn
, kettle corn has a ‘fixed’ preparation method
, in order to get just the right taste. It takes less time to prepare than other types of home-made corn, but it is a bit more labor-intensive as it requires constant stirring
. It takes no more than 5 minutes to make it, so you won’t be waiting long to taste it.
You should always prepare it on a stovetop, not only because you won’t be able to fit a Dutch oven
inside a microwave, but because you will have to let the sugar caramelize above direct heat if you want to attain that exquisite taste. If you don’t own a Dutch pot, you can also use a pan or a pot instead.
- 2 -5 tablespoons of vegetable oil – it can be coconut, canola, sunflower or any cooking oil of your choice.
- ½ cup of popcorn kernels.
- ¼ cup of granulated white sugar.
- 1 tablespoon of salt.
- Long-handle spoon for stirring
- Dutch oven, or, any large, 4-quart non-stick pot with a lid.
- A large bowl
- Place the bowl on the table, so you will be able to transfer the popcorn into it as soon as it is done.
- Set the pot onto the stove, add oil, and put a few – no more than 3 – kernels of popcorn inside it, then cover it up, with the lid, and let it heat up. When the kernels will pop, it will be the signal that the oil is hot enough to continue to the next step. You should use a medium-heat flame, if you know your stove heats up a lot, to make sure the popcorn won’t burn, or a high-heat one.
- Add the sugar, and mix it with the oil, stirring until it starts to melt slightly. As soon as it does, place the rest of the corn in, and stir vigorously.
- When the kernels start to pop, cover it with the lid, and start shaking the pan. You can either rattle it continuously or, if you prefer the easier method, shake it every 10 seconds, then return it on the stove for another 3 seconds for the pan to not lose the heat. Listen carefully for the popping noises, because as soon as they start to slow down, you have to take away the pot from the heat source.
- Transfer the popcorn in the bowl immediately, add the salt while turn it on all sides, to ensure it is evenly salted. Let it cool down for a bit and then you’re free to enjoy it.
- While the process of making kettle popcorn is simple, fast and relatively hassle-free, there are some tips which you should keep in mind if you want to be able to achieve the taste from your memories.
- Let the sugar caramelize just a bit when you put it in the oil. In that way, it will give the popcorn that special taste you’re seeking.
- You don’t have to wait for all the popping to stop, in order to take the pot off the stovetop. If you do so, there are high chances you might get some of them burned.
- The lid doesn’t necessarily have to be transparent, but if it is, it will help you determine more accurately, not only based on hearing, when you should remove the pot from the stove. Not to mention, you will be able to see the whole process up-close.