Popcorn is the must-have snack of the moment, thanks to its increasing popularity amongst health-conscious celebrities. Packed with healthy fibre, popcorn is low in calories too – right up until the moment that its drenched in butter, oil, sugar and / or salt! From cinemas that churn out giant buckets of popcorn for families to munch as they watch the latest blockbuster, to small companies that produce gourmet flavours, such as gin and tonic, or cheese and bacon, popcorn has become the public’s favourite snack.
But while the large corporations and smaller concerns are raking in the profits, huge numbers of us are failing to understand how incredibly easy -(and cheap) it can be to make our own popcorn at home. A one-kilo bag of corn kernels only costs a few pounds, and with only two tablespoons of unpopped kernels required to create one large serving of fluffy, popped corn in less than five minutes, the initial purchase of a popcorn maker pays for itself many times over in just a few weeks.
Popcorn makers come in all sorts of types, shapes and sizes, so whether you’re looking for a cheap model that delivers a single tasty serving, or an all-singing, all-dancing machine that can cater for large crowds, there’s a model perfectly suited to your needs.
Different Types of Popcorn Makers
Essentially, every type of popcorn maker heats the corn kernels to a high enough temperature that they explode, creating the familiar white, fluffy nuggets. In some cases, the corn is heated in a small amount of hot oil or butter, in which case the health benefits are somewhat compromised. For the truly health-conscious, the popping is achieved through heat alone. Air-popped corn is the healthiest option, with a variety of carefully-designed counter-top models available to suit all budgets.
Stovetop popcorn makers are essentially a saucepan with a lid, but as anyone who’s ever tried this method will know only too well, this can result in plenty of unpopped kernels. And a less than tight-fitting lid can spell disaster for the state of your kitchen once the popping has commenced! Modern stovetop models often incorporate a stirring mechanism to ensure that every kernel is perfectly popped, with no sticking or burning which can otherwise ruin an entire batch of freshly-popped corn.
Microwave models are the most basic of all, usually consisting of a silicone bowl with a lid, shaped to ensure that every kernel is exposed to the necessary amount of heat. Some models even fold flat, so these are the best option if space is at a premium in your kitchen.
At the other end of the spectrum, large cinema-type popcorn makers are available in small countertop models, through to much larger machines that can happily turn out enough freshly-popped corn to feed a crowd. These types of popcorn makers usually employ a steel kettle for popping the corn, which is then contained in a giant Perspex hopper. Some of the higher end models even include options for adding your own flavourings during the popping process. Even if your model doesn’t offer this option, you can always add your chosen flavourings once your corn is popped.
Average Cost of a Popcorn Maker
When it comes to the price of your popcorn maker, your options are almost endless. Even if you’re struggling on a tight budget, one of the cheaper options such as a microwavable bowl, a self-stirring pan or a free-standing hot air model will quickly pay for itself several times over. It only costs a few pennies to create a giant bowl of steaming hot popcorn and with the option of adding your own sweet or savoury flavours, you can ring the changes every day, at minimal cost.
You can start creating your own popcorn for less than £15, or you can blow the budget and spend several hundred pounds on the sort of popcorn maker that you’d expect to find at your local cinema complex. In between, you’ll find every type and size of popcorn maker that you could possibly imagine. So, whether you’re looking for something fun and quirky, or prefer a look that’s more elegant and stylish, you’re guaranteed to find a model that suits your style, as well as your budget.
Ease of use
Every popcorn maker on the market will deliver up a batch of freshly-cooked popcorn within just a few minutes, but the work doesn’t stop once the popcorn’s been eaten. Cleaning your popcorn machine is also something that you need to consider if your popcorn habit isn’t going to become a tiresome chore.
Hot air models, as well as some hot oil popcorn machines, will have an electrical power supply so they can’t be fully immersed in water. Bear in mind that some of these machines may have parts that are fiddly to access. However, it’s important to keep your popcorn maker as clean as possible between uses so if this is something that you think you might struggle with, then a basic, dishwasher-safe microwavable bowl might be your best option.
Hot air models will require much less cleaning than other types, as well as providing the healthiest popcorn too. Look for these types of popcorn makers if you’re aiming for a low-calorie, no-fuss option. If you think that you will be using your new machine every day, then make sure its design fits in with your kitchen’s style and décor, so you don’t have to hide it away between uses.
Once you start using your new popcorn maker, you’ll quickly wonder how on earth you managed without one. But do bear in mind that it will probably take a few attempts before you discover the perfect ration of popcorn, heat, oil and seasonings to create the popcorn of your dreams. Once you’ve found it, you’ll never look back!