For too long had I been popping the perfect popcorn in a hot air popper. Fluffy clouds. No fat! No cholesterol! No taste. Until I re-discovered the real stuff.
After years and years of this, a friend brought real popcorn to a movie screening: Popped in a pan over a fire with oil. And buttered. Now the hot air popper is reserved for Christmas when we make strings of popcorn and cranberries for the birds.
Tiny But Mighty Popcorn
A few days ago I started hearing about perfect popcorn popping. After reading many news articles and websites, I found this memorable gem: Farmer Gene’s Tiny But Mighty Popcorn. You will want to read the whole page including “way-too-much-detail” section, but here are the basic do’s, the one’s my grandmother fed me:
Recommended oils: sunflower, safflower, coconut, canola, grape seed and vegetable
Note: “expeller pressed” oils are the healthiest and best quality.
- Heavy pot with lid + 2 to 3 tbsp oil + 3 test kernels + Med/High heat
- When you hear a test kernel pop, remove the pot from heat
- Add 2/3 cup kernels, shake to distribute evenly in the pot, and return to heat
- Leave untouched until popping vigorously (approx 2-3 min), then shake pot occasionally (every minute or so)
- When there are 2-3 seconds between pops, remove from heat and immediately pour into a bowl. Season with your favorite toppings and enjoy!
And Tiny But Mighty even has a good story:
While no one in his family knows exactly where the seed came from, they believe it came from Indian neighbors. When Richard Kelty returned home from the army in the mid-1970s, he found the last remaining seeds in a fruit jar. He popped some and planted the rest—and a new business was born.
What makes Tiny But Mighty popcorn unique, besides its tiny kernels and disintegrating hulls, is that it is open pollinated. A 128-day corn, TBM is also difficult to raise, process, and keep its integrity. Gene consulted with a popcorn breeder from Idaho, who said TBM was a rare variety. Because it is hard to breed, most people in the popcorn industry wanted nothing to do with it.
The current growers are Gene and Lynn Mealhow and the sons. Gene is a farmer and soil consultant to farmers interested in sustainable practices.