For a retro experience, tasty snack and memorable experience, try popping corn in your fireplace. You can make popcorn in the microwave or on the stove top, but gathering around the fireplace to pop and eat this favorite treat is a warmer, more intimate experience. Even the waiting is more fun.
While one of the first foods children learn to cook in the microwave is popcorn, even many adults do not know how to pop popcorn in a fireplace. It’s one of those lost arts worth reviving!
You can pop popcorn in the fireplace using a cast iron skillet or thick-bottomed pot with the lid ajar to let steam escape. You can make a popper from a large coffee can by adding a handle (or by using fireplace tongs) and screen wire for the top. These home-made poppers will work nicely, but you will have to keep shaking them while the corn pops to prevent scorching. That means that handles have to be long enough, and strong enough, to let you shake almost constantly and avoid burning your hands.
The best tool for popping corn safely in your fireplace is a fireplace popcorn popper made for that purpose. They cost $18.00 to $30.00. Beware that some fireplace popcorn poppers are for ornamental purposes only, and not meant for actual use.
A good popper has 4 important features:
- There must be a sturdy handle that lets you hold the popper over the hot coals, never in them.
- The body of the popper should have a solid bottom and sides so the corn won’t catch fire.
- The top of the popper should allow steam to escape so it doesn’t make the popcorn tough.
- The popper must be light enough so that shaking it doesn’t wear your arms out.
Step by step, here’s how to pop popcorn in a fireplace:
- Prepare your fireplace fire for popcorn popping by building a fire and establishing a good bed of hot coals. It is over these hot coals, not flames, that you will be popping the corn.
- Always start with a cool popper and cool ingredients.
- Pour in enough canola oil to cover the bottom of the fireplace popper unless you have a non-stick fireplace popcorn popper.
(Coconut oil and palm oil, while providing the taste of movie popcorn, also provide unwanted cholesterol.)
- Now add enough popcorn to cover the bottom of the popper.
- Hold the popper over a bed of hot coals in the fireplace and shake it from front to back. The shaking helps to prevent scorching and filters the un-popped kernels to the bottom of the pan.
- Keep shaking until the popping slows down. Popcorn is cheap, so It’s better to leave some corn un-popped than to scorch the whole pan full.
Don’t be dismayed if your first batch isn’t perfect. With a little practice you’ll learn when to remove the popper from the fireplace with few un-popped kernels and no scorching.
Fireplace Popcorn Condiments and Add-Ins
Pour the popped corn into a bowl and add your favorite condiments. Melted butter and fine salt are the traditional flavorings. Stir gently with a spatula after adding butter and salt. For variety, flavor the popcorn with parmesan cheese, garlic salt, or a tiny bit of cayenne pepper. If you like, you can add a dusting of turmeric to get that ‘movie popcorn’ color. Highly advanced, top-ranked snackers may want to mix some M&M’s, sesame sticks, cashews, raisins or pretzel pieces in with the popcorn.
Now that you know how to pop popcorn in a fireplace, you can celebrate National Popcorn Day, January 19th, with popcorn cooked in your own fireplace.