Amy Clark

Frugal Momma’s Test Kitchen: Homemade Microwave Popcorn & Caramel Corn

I love popcorn. I love flavored popcorn, I love plain popcorn, and I love the air popped variety. Since we enjoy popcorn so much, I purchased an air popper at a thrift sale last year and we have used it a lot, particularly for our Friday night family night. It is a great little tool to have in the kitchen. It pops popcorn quickly and is also much healthier than the prepackaged stuff.

There are times though where I miss the convenience of the bagged variety. Unfortunately, it is expensive and also not as good for you.

Recently though, I happened upon a recipe (on Food Network) for making your own bagged popcorn. The instructions seemed easy enough and the results…near perfection.

To make your own homemade version all you need is popcorn kernels (purchased in bulk at your wholesale club cuts down the cost on these even!), a paper bag (lunch bag size), and a stapler.

Pour a 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels into the bag (for one generous serving) or a 1/2 cup (for two generous servings). At this point, you can add two teaspoons of olive oil (if you wish), add your salt (if you wish) and then fold the bag down a little. Using your stapler, staple a single staple into the top to keep it shut. Put the bag in the microwave and pop for one to two minutes. Be sure to keep a close eye on the popcorn because it burns quickly. Open the bag, pour into a bowl, and enjoy!

My only gripe with doing popcorn this way is that the bag creates a bit of a greasy mess on the interior of your microwave since it is so thin. You could lay down a napkin or paper towel though to keep it clean while the popcorn pops and avoid this mess completely.

If you are interested in making caramel corn, this too can be made from your microwave. This is a great treat to have around the house or to give as hostess gifts when going to all of these holiday get togethers.

I ran across this ezine article that explains the process in much better detail than I could….

Microwave Caramel Corn
by Joyce Moseley Pierce

Part of the hesitation in making caramel corn is the sticky, gooey mess that remains once you’ve finished making it. You almost need a blow torch to remove the hardened sugary stuff from your pans.

Help is on the way! This recipe can be made in your microwave, and when you’re finished, you can just throw the paper sack away.

This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take a little preparation time, but at least you can relax
and enjoy the finished product without having to worry about a lot of cleanup.

Next time you go to the grocery store, ask for your groceries in paper bags. You’ll need one bag per batch.

Here’s what you’ll need:
3-4 quarts popped corn

1 stick of butter (no substitutes!)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup Karo Syrup

1 tsp baking soda – add last

Pop the corn and discard the unpopped kernels. Put the popped corn in the paper sack. While the corn is popping, put the butter, sugar, salt and syrup in a glass bowl and bring it to a boil in your microwave. Stir after one minute, and let it boil for an additional minute. Add one tsp of
baking soda and stir well, until thickened.It will turn light in color and look like taffy.

Pour this mixture over the popped corn in the paper bag and shake well. Put the paper bag
back in the microwave and cook an additional 1-1/2 minutes (90 seconds). Remove and shake well again.

Return to the microwave and cook another 1-1/2 minutes. Shake again. Open the bag and let it
cool. You can even tear the bag down the side and speed up the process.

Plan to make more than one batch because you’ll want to eat the first one! Great for Christmas
or birthday gifts. I gave this as a Christmas gift to my co-workers one year and the next year they started hinting for it again in September.

Once completely cooled, break up the chunks, put it in a plastic holiday bag and tie with a festive ribbon. If you eat a lot of ice cream the containers with lids make a great receptacle for packing the caramel corn.

Save your ice cream containers throughout the year, wash them out, line with plastic wrap and stick a bow on the top. Include the recipe and directions unless you want to tell them it’s an old family secret, but let me warn you that if you don’t share the recipe,
they will come back next year begging for more.

Joyce is a freelance writer and owner of Emerson Publications. She is the creator of “All They’ll Need to Know,” a workbook to help families record personal and financial information.…43554/index.htm She is also the editor of The Family First Newsletter, an ezine for families with young children. To subscribe:

Happy Holidays!

Published November 28, 2006 by:

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of You can read all about her here.

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