September 6, 2007
If you're worried that the popcorn you're accustomed to may be saturating your air with the harmful compound called diacetyl (added to impart the flavor of butter), I have a simple suggestion.
Popcorn is as easy to make as anything you can do, and it's fun too. Here's how to do it.
Buy a can of unpopped popcorn. Pour about a tablespoon of unflavored oil -- canola is the least harmful -- into a saucepan and turn the heat to medium beneath it. Then pour about 1/4 cup of popcorn into the simmering oil and put a lid on the pot.
Soon you'll hear the delightful sound of pops, one at a time, from the pot. Old directions suggested you start shaking the pan, but this is really not necessary. It adds to the fun, however, and makes you feel a part of the process. Those accustomed to using microwave popcorn will not miss feeling part of the process, but you might try it if you're a pro-active kind of person.
Turn the heat to low and keep it on until the pops slow from a crescendo of activity to a gentle, occasional pop, pop, pop. Then immediately remove from the heat until the pops stop altogether. You may then remove the lid, pour in a tablespoon or two of melted butter (yes!), and add some salt. Toss well. One or two kernels may still have a pop in them; that's part of the fun.
You will have a nice pot of delicious popcorn, probably three or four cups full. And you will have had fun too. And you won't be poisoning yourself or anybody else.