Eating popcorn is a all American favorite snacking pastime, and it is something pretty much everyone knows how to so. Probably the only things that people are unsure of is:

  • Whether to make your own or buy pre-popped or microwave popcorn
  • Whether to use an air popper or use the frying pan and oil

Until a few decades ago, making popcorn at home in a frying pan with a bit of oil or butter was the only way to cook popcorn, but with modern times comes modern invention, including industrial size popcorn poppers and the at home versions of air poppers. While the choice of whether to use an air popper or to pop your corn is entirely yours, each has distinct advantages and disadvantages.  

Air Poppers
Popping popcorn using air poppers is a newish trend that got its start around the decade of the 70s. While early models of air poppers were available before then, it wasn’t until the mid 70s that they become efficient, easy enough and cheap enough so that the “regular” family could have one at home. Air popped popcorn is distinct:

  • •    It pops clean and contains less fat
  • •    It pops up bigger kernels

Stove Methods
Heating up a frying pan and adding the oil of your choice – about a quarter inch’s worth -  and then adding the kernels is all it takes to pop some of the best tasting popcorn you’ll ever eat. The traditional method for popping corn, using this method is simple, but it could be dangerous where children are involved, so make sure there are adults around when popping.

Which Popcorn Tastes Better?
Oil popping your popcorn on the stove is indeed an all-American favorite. If you ask any kid, which they like better according to taste, the oil popped popcorn cooked on the stove in a frying pan almost always wins over air popped. Why? Because of the fat in which the kernels are popped. To most cooks, fat means flavor, and flavor is not something an air popper can offer because of the way the poppers are used.

When you cook popcorn on the stove in a frying pan, you add the fat of your choice – butter in most cases – and the kernels soak in that fat. The kernel only pops when  it has sit in the fat long enough for it to get hot enough to produce the required steam pressure. While it pops, it absorbs some of the oil the kernel sat in, which is what translates to the flavor.

On the other hand, an air popper uses hot air for the popping process. The popper heats up the air, which in turn heats up the moisture inside the kernels, and when enough steam builds up, the kernels pop. No fats are needed for this process, and as such, the kernels are dry when they pop, and there are no flavors to retain.

Simply stated – using a fat means you get flavor while using an air popper means you don’t, although you can add a fat after the kernels are popped, but this can cause them to wilt.