Types of Popcorn Makers or Poppers
There are different types of popcorn makers that are available in the market. Knowing these types can help you find an ideal popcorn machine for your home.
1. Stove Top Popcorn Maker:
You can use these types of popcorn machines on the stovetop and you don’t need any electricity to use them. These popcorn makers are quite similar to cookers or pots, except for the fact that they have gears and stirring mechanisms to make sure that the popcorn is not sticking to the pot or burning while cooking.
These machines are very good at making popcorn in a classic style without using electricity. They are convenient as they are quite small in size and hence, are easy to store or carry it wherever you wish to.
2. Hot-Air Popcorn Maker:
Hot-air popcorn makers have gained popularity recently as they tend to make healthier popcorns. Rather than using oil, these machines use hot air to make light and healthy snacks.
Hot-air popcorn makers are considered as the fastest and the most efficient types of popcorn machines available in the market. They are easy to use and clean as well.
3. Microwave Popcorn Maker:
Microwave popcorn makers offer amazing performance and are loved by many users. They are compact and easy to carry. These machines are reliable and work efficiently to make the best quality popcorns at home.
All you have to do is fill the container or box with kernels and turn on the microwave. Within a few minutes, hot and fresh popcorns will be ready. They are easy to clean and maintain.
Thus, if you are looking forward to buying a reliable, affordable, efficient, and easy to use popcorn maker, you can buy a microwave popcorn maker.
4. Tabletop Popcorn Maker:
Tabletop popcorn makers also make popcorns very quickly. Even though these machines are a bit tough to clean, they make amazing popcorns.
5. Large or Theatre-Style Popcorn Maker:
These machines are very similar to the machines that you see in theatres. You can make popcorn in large quantities. Most people prefer buying these machines because the quality of the popcorn they make is delicious. The only downsides of these machines are they are very expensive and need a lot of space.
Things to Consider Before Choosing a Popcorn Maker
Buying a new popcorn maker can be very confusing as this is not something we buy frequently. Thus, here are a few factors that can make it easier for you to buy a popcorn maker that will meet all your requirements.
1. Type of the Popcorn Machine:
Before buying a popcorn machine, you should first determine the type of machine that you should buy. By doing so, you will be sure that the machine will offer you the performance that you are expecting out of it. It will also offer convenient usability.
The capacity of popcorn makers ranges between 10 cups every batch to 50 cups. Large popcorn machines can make up to 50 cups of popcorn at one go and this, you can easily serve it if there is a gathering at your place. You will not even have to worry about running out of popcorns.
Hot-air and stovetop popcorn makers usually make popcorns in a smaller quantity that ranges between 10-18 cups per batch. These machines are suitable if you have a small gathering at your place with not more than 4-5 people.
If you have limited counter space or storage space, you can buy these smaller stovetop popcorn makers or air poppers. Many college students prefer buying hot-air popcorn machines as they don’t have easy access to stovetops.
3. Oil or Air Popping Method:
All the popcorn makers either use oil or hot air to make popcorns. Using oil is a traditional way of making popcorns and it adds a rich taste to the popcorns too. Many machines allow you to use different types of oil like coconut oil and olive oil so that you have healthy popcorns.
Hot-air popcorn makers use hot air to pop the kernels. Machines that use hot air are very popular amongst users who are diet conscious. They make natural and calorie-free popcorns. You can add extra seasoning as per your choice and taste like salt, sugar, or butter.
However, some users feel that even after adding seasonings, air-popped popcorns taste bland. Hence, if you don’t want to compromise on the taste at all, you can buy oil poppers.
4. Popping Seeds:
Most of the popcorn machines deliver very fast results and hardly take 3-4 minutes to make popcorns in full capacity. However, large popcorn makers might take a bit longer.
Small air poppers that are designed to make popcorn for 4-5 people are the fastest as there is no need to wait till the oil gets heated up. They can make popcorn within 3 minutes.
The higher the wattage of the popcorn maker is, the quicker the cooking time is going to be. If you don’t have to make popcorn in larger batches, you can buy machines with lower wattage.
But if you want to make popcorns quickly, you should prefer buying a popcorn maker with 860 watts or more.
The material that is used to make the popcorn maker also has an impact on the overall cooking time, price, and the weight of the machine. There is no ideal or perfect material that should be used to make popcorn makers as such.
There are two types of materials that are used to make the kettle: stainless steel and aluminum.
Kettles made using stainless steel are very durable. They are easy to clean and last for a long time. Even though they are non-reactive, they take a long time to heat when compared to aluminum kettles.
Aluminum, on the other hand, heats up very quickly. These kettles heat evenly so that there are no hot spots where the popcorns can burn. They are very light in weight and are economical when compared to kettles made using stainless steel. However, they are not as durable as the ones made using stainless steel.
Before buying a popcorn maker, make sure that the manufacturer uses premium quality steel. Also, check if it uses tempered glass that is resistant to scratches and is not prone to warping.
While some manufacturers use metal gears, others use plastic. Hence, you should be very careful about these parts, especially if you are buying a popcorn maker online. Gears made using cheap materials can have a negative impact on the lifespan and durability of the machine.
7. Tilt-Out Popcorn Door:
Popcorn makers that have tilt-out popcorn doors are convenient to use. This is a very important feature if you are buying a large popcorn machine. It gives you easy access to the popcorn without really spilling it everywhere. With the help of a tilt-out door, you can simply pull it out like a drawer and take out the popcorn.
8. Stirring System:
No one likes eating half-cooked popcorns or blackened popcorns. Hence, to prevent this, each model of popcorn maker has an internal stirring system. The machine that you are buying should have a good stirring system so that you get evenly cooked popcorns in every batch.
9. Built-in Warming Deck and Heat Lamp:
Most of the premium models of popcorn makers come with a warming deck to offer superior quality popcorns every time. There is a heating element below the warming deck that helps in keep the popcorns crispy rather than making them chewy.
Some manufacturers combine this feature with light or lamp and make popcorn that can remain fresh and warm even for hours.
10. Measuring Cup:
Almost every model of popcorn maker comes with a measuring cup. This cup can be used as a butter melter too.
You can first measure the required amount of kernels that you want to use in this measuring cup and then use the measuring cup, add butter in it and keep it over the popper to let the butter melt. This is an easier way to melt and season the butter in the popcorn. The end result is amazing with rich flavors. The difference is more noticeable in air-popped popcorns as people often term it is as bland in taste.
Checking the construction of the popcorn maker is very essential as the machine is exposed to hot oil and temperature. Usually, cheaper models of popcorn makers (mostly air poppers) are made using plastic material. As plastic is prone to warping and it can even melt if exposed to a hot temperature for a long time, it is suggested to avoid buying popcorn machines that use plastic gears.
Most of the stovetop poppers are made using aluminum or stainless steel. Stainless steel is the most preferred metal as it can hold heat consistently and for a long time. Also, it is easy to clean too. Many stovetop popcorn machines are made using stainless steel cranks and wooden handles so that it is easy to move the kettle.
12. On/Off Button:
The on/off buttons are very important if you are buying an air pooper as they need to be plugged in when you want to use the machine.
If there is no on/off button, the machine will start heating up as soon as you plug it and will turn off only after unplugging it.
Having a button is not only safe but is also an energy-saving option. Sometimes, many users tend to forget to unplug the machine after taking out the popcorn which can be harmful later on. The on/off button serves as a reminder to turn off the machine.
13. Easy to Clean:
You must look for a model that is easy to clean. Some models are even dishwasher safe. If you are too lazy to wash it by yourself, you can buy a machine that is dishwasher safe.
Like any other kitchen product, the popcorn machine also requires a dedicated space. However, as you might not be using it on a regular basis, it is better if you choose a model that is easy to store.
15. Additional Accessories:
Some models of popcorn makers come with additional serving bowls or extra measuring cups or butter melters. These accessories can be helpful too.
16. Warranty and After-sale Service:
Checking for the warranty and after-sale service offered by the manufacturer is very important to make sure that you are buying a durable popcorn maker. Check if the model that you are buying comes with a good warranty period or not. Also, check if there are enough service centers of the brand so that you can consult them in case of issues.
Some manufacturers even offer specific details of the warranty like 2 years on the overall product and 30 days warranty on the kettle or light.
How to Use a Popcorn Machine?
It is very easy to use a popcorn machine. Following these steps can be helpful to you:
- Turn on the machine
- Add the required amount of oil and let it heat for 2-3 minutes. The amount of oil required can be determined using your preferred ration like 1:3 – 1 part of the oil with 3 parts of kernels.
- After the oil is heated, turn on the motor and add popcorn kernels.
- After the popping is done, turn off the motor and the heat switch. Turn the roller bar and shift the popcorn from the kettle. Use either a glove or an oven mitt while transferring the popcorns as the surface of the kettle will be very hot.
- Let the light switch be ON as it will keep the popcorn fresh till the time you start serving.
- If you want to add extra butter or seasoning, do it after moving the popcorn to a bowl.
Some Safety Precautions:
You must not forget to follow these safety precautions:
- Once you are done making the popcorn, make sure you unplug the machine.
- Don’t forget to use oil while making popcorn. You should never make it in a dry kettle pot.
- After making the popcorn, let the kettle cool down and clean it immediately. This will prevent the build-up of grease.
How to Clean a Popcorn Maker – Step-by-Step Guide:
It is very easy to clean the popcorn machine. All you have to do is follow these steps:
- Turn off the machine and unplug it.
- Let the machine cool down completely. Don’t touch anything right away as the parts can turn very hot.
- Remove the kettle from the machine and wipe it using a damp cloth or sponge. Never submerge it in water completely as it can damage the electrical parts.
- You can wipe the glass using a food-safe glass cleaner.
- Wipe off the metal surfaces using a damp cloth. If the kettle has become very messy, follow the cleaning process mentioned below.
If there is a grease build-up on the kettle that is not getting cleaned by simply wiping, you might have to follow the “boil-out” process.
- Add two cups of water and a little amount of dishwashing liquid to the kettle.
- Let it boil and then turn off the machine and unplug.
- Empty the container after some time.
- Rinse it with plain water and wipe it off.
For all the surfaces that come in direct contact with the food, clean using a food-safe cleaner.
Always use an ammonia-free cleaner as it will not damage any components of the popcorn maker.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The most preferred oil to be used in popcorn machines is the coconut oil. It gives a rich taste to it.
Some people even using canola oil, the cholesterol or fat content is low.
You can even use sunflower or peanut oil to make popcorn. Avoid using vegetable oil as it does not get heated.
If you are health conscious, you can make plain popcorns.
However, if you want to add some flavor to it, you can butter or salt. You can even try other recipes to get a taste of your choice and eat delicious popcorns every time.
You should always store kernels in an air-tight container at room temperature so that it maintains a constant moisture content and keep the humidity away.
If you store kernels in a hot or humid environment, the moisture content will increase. This will lead to the formation of mold.
If you are storing it in a cold or dry environment like the fridge, the moisture content will decrease and kernels won’t pop.
If you want to avoid the consumption of extra calories from buttered popcorns, you can buy an air popper that uses a very little amount of oil.
Expansion rate means the number of popcorns made from a specific amount of kernels. Example: if the expansion rate of 1 cup of the kernel is 30, it will yield 30 cups of popcorn.
The expansion rate should be about 35 to 40. The higher the expansion rate is, the higher the volume of popcorn will be.
The taste of the popcorn depends on the kernels that you choose. These pointers can help you select the best quality kernels:
You should always look for kernels with a moisture content between 13% to 14.5%. kernels with lower moisture content don’t pop properly and you might find many unpopped kernels in a batch of popcorn.
Kernels with high moisture content result in chewy popcorns with a limited expansion rate.
The size of the kernel is measured in K/10 g i.e. kernels per 10 grams. To find the correct size, 10 grams of popcorn are measured and then the total number of kernels is counted. The higher the number of kernels in 10 grams, the smaller its size will be.
Kernel size only determines the size of the kernel and does not have any impact on how much the popcorn expands.
Coconut oil is the most common oil used to make pop corn as using different oil may change the taste of the pop corn.
For half a cup of kernels you should use 2 tablespoon of oil this ratio don’t make pop corn greasy.
To pop the kernels the pop corn makers use mechanism of hot air, mostly without oil also you can make pop corn; it is healthy option to use pop corn machine.