3 Mar 2010


We've been popping corn today. Warm, buttery popcorn with icing sugar. Mmmmmm.

Tastes great. Smells like a movie theatre.

It's not fun though. No way. This is school. This is serious science stuff, this is. Really, mum - honestly and truly.

Our science text, Bob Friedhoffer's Science Lab in a Supermarket tells us that you need a moisture content of 13% to make popping corn. Who'd a known it? He says you need a tough outer shell and a starchy white centre, and so to get these things they especially breed corn for popcorn. Imagine saying you're a popcorn farmer!! Jemimah once had a Little People video tape about a popcorn farm. One day it got too hot and all the popcorn started popping. Or something like that. We haven't got a video recorder anymore, and so I might be making this up as I go along. Anyhow, a popcorn farm's a pretty fun idea.

Bob tells us that the corn starts a poppin' when the temperature reaches 200°C. The moisture vapourises and takes up more space than the liquid, increasing the pressure inside the kernel and breaking the outer shell. BOOM!

Little fluffy clouds of popcorn. "Imagine if the clouds really were popcorn, Mummy!" Jemimah says.


The Americans do it better than we Aussies do, I reckon. Friends of ours from the States produce the wildest buttery caramel popcorn ever. Secret recipe though. I told Jemimah that I would ask you girls if any of you have a recipe that you will share, because popcorn with butter and icing sugar is okay, but I've had better.

Please share. Pretty Please!

It's all in the name of science.

It's not fun at all, but hey, somebody's gotta do it.


  1. I'd be interested in those American recipes too:)
    We are popcorn lovers too here. In fact our fave way of relaxing on a sat night is staying home with a good dvd and popcorn:)
    Did you also know that it was one of Warren Buffet's ways of relaxing after work? :) just some trivia for you!

  2. Hi Jeanne,
    I, too, would be interested in the recipe. :D

    Popping popcorn for school - unbelievable!

    Have a wonderful week,
    Jillian ♥

  3. Your wish is my command! (If you are a no microwave person, sorry. I try not to use it much, actually, but this is a worthy exception).

    From the Sonlight Cookbook
    Microwave Caramel Popcorn

    1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    2 Tbs. light or dark corn syrup
    1/4 cup butter
    1/2 tsp. vanilla
    8-10 cups popped popcorn

    Put brown sugar, syrup, and butter in microwave-safe, 4 quart bowl. Microwave on high 1 1/2 min. or until mixture is boiling throughout. Then, microwave on high 2 min. more at a full boil. Remove from microwave, stir in soda and vanilla; mix well. Add popcorn, stirring well to coat. Microwave on high 3 min., stirring well after each minute of cooking. (Mixture may burn if not stirred well after each minute.)

    Remove and spread on greased cookie sheets to cool. Popcorn will become crisp as it cools. Break into pieces, and enjoy!

    (I will say that I stir mine every 30 seconds or so - rather than every minute - after adding the popcorn, because mine tends to burn. Adjust to the strength of your microwave.)

    My family goes crazy for this popcorn. It does do better in dry weather. When I have made it in our hot humid weather it doesn't crisp up as much. It still tastes good, though!

  4. Hmmm, so now I need to know what corn syrup is. Ideas anyone?

    Why did I know that this would happen?

  5. This isn't caramel corn, but it is good. I got it from Gwyneth Paltrow's newletter, "GOOP".
    Spiced Kettlecorn
    Yield: approximately 15 handfuls
    ¼ cup butter
    1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
    ½ cup corn kernels
    3 tablespoons granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

    Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Once it’s melted, add the oil, corn kernels and sugar stirring to make sure everything is
    well-combined. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook on medium-low heat until kernels stop popping. Be sure to shake the pot once
    or twice to make sure the kernels are cooking evenly. Remove from heat and immediately add the salt and spices, tossing to coat.

    As for corn syrup, it is what it's called, corn syrup, and it is sweet. You can buy a light coloured type or a dark. The most know brand is Karo, and in fact, is sometimes just called Karo syrup. I searched it with Australia in the search line. Some have mentioned finding it at Coles or in specialty delis. Someone said that Fauldings and other brands of Liquid Glucose are actually corn syrup according to their ingredients label. Some have substituted golden syrup. Do a google search for: corn syrup Australia. You'll get all kinds of information. If you buy some, you can make a pecan pie. Yummy!

    I think I have a recipe for caramel corn without corn syrup. I will have to look for it in the morning--if you'd like it.

  6. My mouth is wayering form Sue's recipe! Thanks for sharing this, I have never made caramel corn, how fun!

    Jemimah, that really is adorable what you said about the clouds! xxx

  7. I had a feeling as I was typing the words "corn syrup" that you were going to say that. Corn is pretty American after all.

    I had some golden syrup once. I got it from a friend (married to a Brit) when she was clearing out to move to Singapore. I never did know what to use that for! It seems that it was a bit more firm than corn syrup (which is more like honey or maple syrup), but I bet it would work.

    I honestly thought for a moment that Sarah was using another unknown Australian word on me with that typo!

  8. Okay, Sue, I shall try this with golden syrup and see what happens. I shall report!

    Thanks Renaissance Mom for your fantastic reply. Gwyneth's kettlecorn sounds marvellous. Yes, I'd love to see your recipe for caramel popcorn if you can be bothered!

    I shall check the shelves of Coles for Karo when I am next in Melbourne as well!!

  9. Yes, I feel for you, Jeanne, but it is for the greater good.

    I'm from the Midwest, where we take our popcorn pretty seriously : ) Buttered, salted popcorn and a malted milkshake counted as supper on Sunday's following a huge family dinner.

    As kids, we would come in from sledding to a roasting pan full of caramel corn my mom would have made for us. I think she used the recipe from Better Homes & Garden but have asked her to check:
    8c. popped popcorn (she would triple this recipe as we're a large family)
    3/4 c. packed brown sugar
    1/3 c. butter
    3T corn syrup
    1/4 t. baking soda

    Put popcorn in roaster or baking pan. Cook sugar, butter and corn syrup in a saucepan, stirring over medium heat till butter melts and mixture comes to boiling. Cook, stirring - about 4 minutes more. Remove from heat.

    Add baking soda to mixture.

    Pour over popcorn; stir to coat. Bake in 300 F oven 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    If there's any left over, store in airtight container.

    In our home we like our popcorn salted with m&m's mixed in.

    Good thing you have a science background.

  10. ... and be sure to use a larger saucepan as the baking soda added at the end will create quite the effect.

    I know you have everything there but if, perchance, you find yourself in need of a corn syrup supplier just give a shout.

  11. Jeanne: Karo is readily available out here. I use it in a number of American recipes I have. The flavour is quite different to syrup so I wouldn't substitute. Try your local grocery store. ☺

  12. Thanks, Ganeida.

    I'll look out for it next time I'm in the city. My local store doesn't even have coffee beans. Karo? Mebee not.


I'd love you to leave me a message. Tell me what you like - and what you don't. Just remember that this is what we do in our family - it doesn't have to be what you do in yours...