We haven’t had a microwave in years, so one thing I really missed is a bag of warm popcorn while watching a movie. I never really liked the idea of eating popcorn that came from a bag lined with plastic, even before I actually knew what the lining was made from or how microwaves change the structure of food.
Did you know that many microwave popcorn bags are actually lined with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), an industrial nonstick chemical most commonly referred to as teflon? PFOA is used in microwave popcorn bags to both prevent the popcorn from sticking to the bag and to prevent grease from leaking through the bag.
Unfortunately, PFOA has been linked to cancer in animals. Even though there haven’t yet been studies done to show PFOA directly causes cancer in humans, it has been found in the blood of 95% of people in the US. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in January 2012 showed that nonstick chemicals in popcorn bags significantly damage the immune system, which can cause a wide range of other health problems.
Another 2012 study done around a chemical plant where PFOA was manufactured showed there was likely an association between PFOA exposure and 6 negative health outcomes: kidney cancer, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, hypercholesterolemia and pregnancy-induced hypertension.
So, if you’ve made an effort to get teflon coated pans out of your kitchen, it’s also time to re-evaluate eating microwave popcorn. Just because you want to avoid the chemicals found in microwave popcorn doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy freshly popped popcorn while you watch a movie! You can make perfectly popped popcorn on your stovetop, and you may already have everything you need to get started!
Perfectly Popped Popcorn on Your Stovetop
- Put the popcorn kernels and palm shortening into a 5-quart cast iron dutch oven. Alternatively, you can use a pan like this that is designed for popping corn.
- Put the lid on the dutch oven and turn the stove on high (it must be on high or the kernels won’t pop completely).
- Carefully shake the dutch oven every 10-15 seconds, then place back on the burner. I like to lift the lid for a couple seconds every time I set it back down to let some of the steam escape. Continue doing this until the popping stops.
- As soon as it’s done, turn the burner off and pour your perfectly popped popcorn into a large bowl and sprinkle Real Salt or your favorite topping on the popcorn.
Another way to safely make popcorn is with a hot air popper. As long as you have space in your kitchen for another gadget, they’re very affordable! And they’re fun for kids because you can watch the popcorn popping.