What’s not to love about kettle corn? The combination of sweet, salty and crunchy rings the flavor bells… but unless you get it made fresh, the stuff you find in a grocery store will likely disappoint.
Unfortunately, most people believe that they either need to find kettle corn at a fair, amusement park or carnival in order to get it fresh. You can buy the mass-produced variety in grocery stores, but none of it compares to the taste of fresh-popped kettle corn. The dirty little secret about kettle corn is that you don’t need a deep copper pot, propane burner, goggles and protective clothing in order to make your own… and what you can make at home is every bit as good as what the pros make.
All you need to make excellent kettle corn at home are a few simple ingredients and a special popper known as a Whirley-Pop:
The Whirley-Pop is an aluminum popping kettle with a wire whip stirring mechanism in the bottom of the pot. Popcorn is made by adding ingredients to the popper and turning the crank handle to stir the kernels until all of the popping is complete. The Whirley-Pop is, in my humble opinion, simply the best popper for making popcorn at home.
The process for making kettle corn in the Whirley-Pop is not much different than making a batch of regular popcorn. For one batch of kettle corn you will need:
½ cup of unpopped popcorn (white or yellow)
¼ cup of oil (canola, peanut or safflower recommended)
just less than ½ cup of white granulated sugar
approximately ¼ teaspoon of salt (or more to taste)
Before starting, make sure that the popper has been washed and prepped for initial use, which includes wiping the interior with a coating of oil. **We recommend that you pop at least one or two batches of regular popcorn in your Whirley-Pop before you use it to make kettle corn. You will also need a deep bowl or a roasting pan to receive the molten hot popcorn. I recommend using an oven mitt on your hand that rests on the handle of the popper, as hot oil or sugar can spatter out of the vent holes on the lid.
Begin by adding the oil, salt and popcorn to the popper (or you may choose to add salt manually after popping). Heat the popper on high heat for about 30 seconds and then add the sugar. Close the lid and use the crank mechanism to stir the ingredients constantly at a slow to moderate pace.
As the mixture heats and nears the popping stage, you will feel the sugar mixture begin to thicken, making the handle more difficult to turn. Keep cranking, a bit faster! Popping will be slow at first, then vigorous. As the popper fills with popcorn you will no longer be able to turn the crank mechanism easily, so don’t force it! Remove the popper from the heat BEFORE the last popping completes, wait a moment for the final pops and then QUICKLY dump the kettle corn into the bowl or roasting pan.
BEWARE! FRESH KETTLE CORN IS MOLTEN HOT AND WILL BURN YOU IF YOU TOUCH IT BEFORE IT HAS COOLED!! That is, please resist the temptation to grab it and taste it right away. You don’t have to wait until it has cooled to room temperature, but give it at least 2-3 minutes to cool.
Your fresh kettle corn will be stuck together in one big lump, but that is easily broken by hand or with a large spoon. You may want to take a moment to remove any unpopped kernels that are stuck to the kettle corn.
When you get the knack of this and don’t use too much sugar, you can make your kettle corn come out without leaving any dark or burned sugary residue in the pot. You can alternate between kettle corn and regular popcorn without having to clean the popper.
Now you’re enjoying fresh and hot kettle corn right in your home… and it took just five minutes!
The Whirley-Pop can be found at Bed, Bath & Beyond stores and at Amazon.com through this link.
Enjoy your homemade kettle corn! Let us know how it works out!
Psst!: We at CrunchDaddy make a very special version of kettle corn that we call Sweet Butter Crunch… and it’s made with REAL BUTTER! Check out the details here.