June 8, 2009

"Microwave" Popcorn

Apparently there is such a thing a popcorn workers' lung - people who worked in microwave popcorn factories ended up needing lung transplants because constant exposure to a chemical used in the artificial butter flavoring (diacetyl) causes an incurable form of bronchitis. But one guy who ate microwave popcorn every day ended up with it two years ago, which is when I stumbled on this recipe for the easiest microwave popcorn ever. It's so incredibly easy and cheap that I can't believe anyone actually ever managed to get people to buy the store bought kind in the first place.

-Paper bag (leftover from takeout or you can buy a pack from the grocery story)
-2 tbsp. popcorn kernels (usually available at the store next to the microwave popcorn)
-1-2 tbsp. butter (melted) or olive oil
-Salt and any other seasonings you like (I like Old Bay or chili powder)

Are you ready for these incredibly detailed instructions? Ok, here goes: Put two tablespoons of kernels in the paper bag (fold it like you would for a school lunch) and put it in the microwave for two minutes.

That's pretty much it! I like to use olive oil to season it because it doesn't immediately soak into the kernels like hot butter would, leaving you with some butter drenched kernels and some plain. Put the oil in the bottom of a big bowl, dump in the popcorn and toss around along with your salt and seasonings if you like. This makes about what I would consider one serving; if you want to make a big ol' batch, I would suggest doing it two tablespoons at a time to avoid burning.

Most of the major popcorn manufacturers have dropped the chemical linked to the lung disease, but I'm still not too keen on some of the other ingredients, particularly partially hydrogenated oils, aka trans fats. And diacetyl isn't necessarily listed on the ingredient list anyway, it's a component of the ingredient listed as natural and/or artificial flavor. According to Fast Food Nation, it's also been used in the flavoring for Burger King strawberry milkshakes. Hmm...

Anyway, I'll take the kernels+oil+salt version, thanks!

Flavoring Suspected in Illness, The Washington Post, 5/7/07
FDA to probe popcorn link in man's lung disease, USA Today, 9/5/2007
Labor Dept. Plans New Safety Regulations, ABC News, 4/27/09

No comments:

Post a Comment