Popcorn is a wonderful snack enjoyed around the world. Tracing its origins back thousands of years to North American tribes, and regaining mass popularity between the 1890s and 1930s, this grain is now a staple of movie nights, after-school snacks, and other activities around the globe.
It’s the perfect easy munchie to have on hand. But, what do you do with the rest of it that you haven’t popped yet? After all, just two tablespoons of unpopped kernels make about two cups of the popped treat, meaning that large container will last you a while!
Or what do with the leftovers from last night’s game night? Nothing worse than biting into a stale piece of a once crunchy nibble. In this article, we’ll help you keep your popcorn fresher longer by highlighting the best ways to store this healthy snack and its benefits.
How to Store Popcorn:
Your goal when storing your popcorn kernels is to retain that moisture so that they don’t dry out. Popcorn works because when you heat the kernels, the water stored in them converts to steam, and with no other way to escape, the kernel explodes into a delicious, fluffy treat. Without water, there is nothing forcing the reaction to happen.
How to Store Before Using:
The key begins with choosing whole-quality kernels. Choosing a gourmet alternative, popping in a stovetop popper designed for a variety of flavors and recipes like Popsmith, is the best option for long-term storage. Kernels popped in an air popper or stovetop popper rather than in a microwave are not covered in unhealthy oils, preservatives, and other chemicals that do significantly more harm than good.
For unpopped kernels, your best storage option is in an airtight container like a glass jar or Tupperware, in a cool place away from sunlight. The optimal temperature to store your unpopped grains is between 50 and 74 degrees. For most homes, a kitchen pantry, or cabinet will do just fine. If stored properly, your kernels should last six months to a year.
In most cases, they will come in an airtight bottle, jug, or plastic container. If this is the case, there’s no need to remove them from this container or move them to another one. If your product came in a plastic or paper bag, you’ll want to move it to an airtight container — ideally made of glass or plastic — to keep the popcorn fresh for as long as possible.
Storing Popped Kernels:
Once popped, the same advice applies: store the leftovers in an airtight container to ensure their freshness and prevent them from getting stale. The best way to store them is in a cool, dry place such as a pantry or cupboard. It’s important to avoid storing them in a humid environment or in direct sunlight as this can cause the kernels to become soggy and lose their crispiness.
How to Freeze:
Depending on the state of your popcorn depends on whether you should freeze it or not. If you’re looking to store kernels, do not freeze them. Since the “pop” comes from tiny amounts of water stored in each kernel converting to steam as it heats. If you freeze your kernels, you’re freezing that water as well. That can cause your kernels to rupture, making them impossible to pop.
Though popped, it is a different story, instead of drying out it stays hydrated in the freezer. You can freeze this tasty treat for up to 3 months! The moisture from the freezer actually helps it reheat crunchy. When you’re ready to enjoy your frozen popcorn, simply thaw it at room temperature for a few minutes before eating. You can also reheat it in the microwave or oven for a few seconds to restore its crunchiness.
How Long Does Popcorn Last
The shelf life of popcorn can vary depending on various factors such as storage conditions, packaging, and processing. Here are some guidelines to help you determine how long your leftovers last:
- Unpopped kernels: If stored properly in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, they can last for up to 2 years or more. However, the longer they are stored, the less likely they are to pop.
- Microwaveable bags: Typically have a shelf life of around 6 to 12 months from the date of manufacture. However, it is always best to check the “best by” date printed on the packaging to determine its quality.
- Homemade: Homemade popcorn can last for several days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Benefits of a Healthy Snack:
The best thing about popcorn is that it’s very delicious, filling, and low-calorie snack that’s approved by most diet plans. It is considered a whole grain and has a high fiber content — actually higher than a slice of whole wheat bread! According to the American Heart Association, high-fiber whole grains can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and numerous other health problems.
Again, we recommend using an air popper or stovetop popper. This lets you have total control over what’s added to your kernels before you pop them. If you’re using a popper that requires oil, you’re going to get the best, healthiest results from coconut oil or clarified butter (also known as ghee).
When your popcorn is piping hot and ready to eat, there really is no limit to how you can season to your heart’s content. Just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a treat, it means you are able to control what is healthiest for your body. The classic is a light drizzle of melted butter and a sprinkle of salt, but you can try other toppings, too. If you love it more savory, a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and garlic makes for a delicious combination. If you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth, a light drizzle of dark chocolate and peanut butter is a decadent treat!
Will a Ziploc bag work for storage?
While a Ziploc bag can be used for popcorn storage, it may not be the best option. They are not specifically designed for food storage and may not provide the necessary protection to keep it fresh. If you must use a Ziploc bag for storage, make sure to press out as much air as possible before sealing the bag, and use the popcorn within a few days to prevent it from becoming stale.
Should I refrigerate popcorn?
There’s a bit of an urban legend that keeping popcorn kernels in your refrigerator will help them pop bigger and taste better. This is just a myth. Refrigerators are notoriously dry environments, which could harm the moisture content of your kernels. If your fridge is too cold, your kernels might even freeze and become unpoppable. To be safe, stick your container in a dark corner of your pantry and keep it out of the fridge.
How to save dried-out kernels?
If your popcorn wasn’t stored properly or is just past its prime, there’s a decent chance that the kernels aren’t popping correctly or consistently. That’s likely because the water has evaporated over time. To try and recover dried popcorn kernels, add a bit of water to your airtight container at a ratio of one tablespoon for every quart. Shake the container well every ten to fifteen minutes until the water is absorbed, then let the container sit for a minimum of three days. If they still aren’t popping, repeat the process one to two more times.