Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader. Short excerpts with full links are welcome.
Seasoning cast iron can be an unpleasant task. Lodge Manufacturing, the best American cast iron company, recommends re-seasoning using vegetable shortening and a hot oven for an hour. The Lodge method works, but it leaves the house smelling of overcooked vegetable shortening, plus it uses a lot of energy. When my cast iron surface needs a little work, I prefer to either fry in it (something we don’t do very often) or just pop popcorn!Earlier today. my 2-quart cast iron Dutch oven looked disreputable. I know; I should be ashamed for mistreating my cast iron this way, but I swear it just happened because I cooked high-acid tomato sauce in it.Here’s a close up. I know, I know. I may get kicked out of the Cast Iron American Society.The solution? Make popcorn! Start by pouring enough oil in the bottom of your warm Dutch oven to coat the bottom, at a depth of about 1/8 inch. The warmth will help the oil spread. Otherwise, you may end up with too much oil and greasy popcorn. Now pour in just two corn kernels. Heat the pot on high (medium-high for some electric burners!–or use a pyrex wire diffuser (example) to get less direct heat on high) until the two kernels pop. Scoop out the two kernels with a slotted spoon. Now pour in the rest of your kernels, about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup for a 2-quart Dutch oven, 1/2 to 2/3 cup for a 4-quart Dutch oven, and so forth. Put the lid on the pot immediately, because the kernels will start to pop right away. Position the lid so that it vents steam.
Do you like real butter? Do not use “lite” margarine! If you have real butter and want it in your popcorn, make sure you have it standing by. Cut off a pat and slip it in under the lid, taking care not to let kernels escape. More butter???? Sure, just slip it in on the other side of the pot.
Very quickly, the corn will go from exploding rapid fire like a hundred machine guns to sounding more like an occasional pop. Turn off the heat. If you have an electric stove top, remove the pot from the hot burner, or else you’ll burn the popcorn on the bottom. A few kernels may still pop after you turn off the heat, so don’t open it yet. Instead, get the salt. Okay, now open the lid carefully. Shake on some salt. Taste. Add a little more if you want. Scoop off the luscious popcorn.
Mmmmmmmm. Let’s eat!
Oh, you say I was talking about cast iron? Oh. I remember! Yes, we’re making popcorn to re-season my neglected cast iron. Yes, I ate the popcorn. Then I rinsed the salt out of the Dutch oven and dried it off. Do you want an “after” picture? Here it is, showing the thin layer of hot oil that the popcorn neatly distributed across the surface of the Dutch oven, re-seasoning it all over.I wonder if my 4-quart Dutch oven needs re-seasoning too? Yes, I’m grinning from ear to ear. Oh, I’m so sorry for getting corny! Oops, there goes another pun!
Thanks to Linda Watson at CookforGood, who referred to this post in an article on making turmeric-seasoned popcorn. I do have one little correction to the CookforGood article. Watson said you need to shake the cast iron pan while you’re popping. No, you don’t have to do that! The heavy bottom of the cast iron, the high heat with which you start (after you test pop those two kernels) and the short popping time will allow you to pop without shaking the pan. Just be sure to turn off the heat (and remove the pan from the burner if you use an electric burner) when the popping slows. You’ll have great, burn-free popcorn.
Do you have questions about caring for cast iron or making old-fashioned popcorn on the stove top? Feel free to post here!