I long ago stopped popping popcorn in a pan on the stove. I guess I got lazy. I always thought my parent's air popper was a pain, and it just seemed easier to use microwavable bags of popcorn. I never really thought much about the health effects of eating microwavable popcorn. Then I read a news story that made me question whether I should ever let anyone in my family eat microwave popcorn again. Apparently, the lining of those popcorn bags contains perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which accumulates in the body over time. (It's the same stuff Teflon pans are coated with.) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers this chemical potentially carcinogenic and has asked for an end to it's use by 2015.
Hmmm. Then there are stories of people in popcorn plants developing lung problems. And now at least one man who doesn't work in such a factory - but eats a lot of microwave popcorn - has developed this health issue, too. In addition, one has to consider that most microwave popcorn isn't made with natural butter - which creates additional health concerns.
Just when I was about to bring out a heavy and pan and make my popcorn the old fashioned way, I wondered if I could make my own microwave popcorn. After reading about 100 blogs and news articles, I discovered it's not only do-able, but it's simple, easy, cheaper, and healthier than commercially prepared popcorn. Give it a try!
What You Need:
Brown paper lunch bag
Melted butter (optional)
Salt (optional; even though the photo above shows table salt, which is linked to autoimmune disorders, we have since switched to sea salt.)
How to Do It:
1. Fill the paper bag with popcorn kernels. About 1/4 cup is right; more than that and there probably won't be enough room in the bag for the finished popcorn. This may result in burnt popcorn and/or unpopped kernels.
2. Fold down the top of the bag. I make 2 folds a little more than 1/4 inch wide. (Some people like to Scotch tape the bag closed; I've never tried this. Don't use staples or potato chip bags, as some suggest, because these could spark a fire in the microwave.)
3. Place the bag in the microwave on High. Turn the microwave on for 5 minutes, but stay right by the machine's side. As soon as the popping begins slowing down to two-second intervals, stop the microwave and remove the bag.
4. Season with butter and salt. (I pour the popcorn into a bowl first.) Eat!
If desired, you can put the butter and salt in the bag with the popcorn before popping; however, I find it harder to judge how much seasoning I want this way. Also, it makes for a greasy bag. If you follow the steps above, you can reuse the same bag over and over.