As late-night snacks go, it's hard to imagine anything easier than microwave popcorn. Just unwrap the bag, put it in the microwave and press that handy-dandy "Popcorn" button on the keypad. Minutes later, you'll be enjoying one of your favorite snacks.
Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?
Standard microwave popcorn pouches vary slightly in size from 3 to 3.5 ounces. Entry-level microwaves are often preset to a cooking time that works for one or the other, which is why you sometimes find unpopped or burnt kernels. A sophisticated model adjusts the cooking time to match the size of the bag. If your microwave isn't that intelligent, you can play the role of sensor instead.
Hear Ye, Hear Ye
Consider the time printed on the bag as a guideline and use your ears to judge when the popcorn is done. You'll hear just a few pops at first and then a continuous fusillade before the sound dies away. When you hear gaps of two to three seconds between pops, it's time to stop the microwave.
It's the Humidity
Steam trapped inside a pot gives conventional popcorn its consistently light, fluffy texture. With microwave popcorn, the bag traps some steam, but you'll get a better result if you crank up the humidity. Put a cup of hot water in the microwave and zap it for 90 seconds. When the time's up, quickly swap out the hot water in favor of your popcorn bag. It sounds quirky, but the extra humidity definitely makes a difference.
A Bit of Finesse
Make sure the microwave is clean before you start. Spills from other foods can lend an odd flavor to the popcorn or can ruin a batch by causing smoke in your microwave. If you're jonesing for popcorn and you're out of the microwave variety, you can use plain popcorn in the microwave. Just put 2 to 3 tablespoons of kernels into a plain brown-paper lunch bag and fold down the top two or three times. Listen for the popping sound to slow, as you would with microwave popcorn. Handle the bag carefully, because it'll be hot.
Photo Credits: Sarah VanTassel/Demand Media
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