Monday, February 22, 2010

Plain and simple microwave popcorn

I love popcorn. It's always been one of my favorite snacks, ever since I'd come home from school and make a big bowlful in my family's air popper. Now I'm a grownup. I don't have an air popper, and sometimes the stovetop just feels like too much effort. And microwave popcorn is just kinda disgusting - and not so great for the environment besides. Even if you disregard the studies potentially linking the inner coating of the packaging with cancer, and even if you don't mind the nasty artificial taste (and smell that won't leave the room for days), think about all that packaging. One cardboard box (which, admittedly, can be recycled or turned into a nifty wallet), three plastic wrappers (which can't), and three wax-and-plastic-coated paper bags (which also can't), for just three bowls of popcorn? No thanks.

So what's the answer? Simple. You can make fantastic microwave popcorn at home with nothing but loose popcorn, a brown paper lunchbag, and a piece of tape. Really. I love telling people this because they are always shocked that there is not a special magic trick involved.

Your standard brown lunchbag (sold in big packs of 50 or so, for cheap) is the perfect size. Use about 1/3 cup of popcorn to fill the bag (and a bowl that will make at least two bellies very happy). Fold it over once to prevent escaping kernels, tape it shut, and go ahead and pop. After you're finished, put in a bowl and season as desired. (I like a mix of melted butter and olive oil with a little salt. Cumin, paprika or smoked paprika are also favorites.)

Usually, the "popcorn" setting on your microwave works just fine, but you might want to keep an eye on it the first few times and adjust the timing accordingly. It's also smart to shake the bag somewhere in the middle of cooking. Other than that, this method takes no more effort than regular microwave popcorn, but you've just eliminated lots of waste and some icky fake butter from your world! It's a delicious, simple, and relatively eco-friendly snack.

To boost the eco-friendly factor even further, buy organic popcorn (it's worth the extra money - tastier and pops better), and rescue brown bags from takeout orders and re-use them in the microwave. I personally don't recommend re-using the bags after they've been microwaved once (the second batch never seems to pop quite right), but you can compost or recycle the brown bags at the end of their (extended) lives.

Happy popping!


  1. I love this site. I stumbled on it from another blogger who had linked it up through their site. We just signed our Township up through Sustainable Jersey and your ideas are great.

    Now the popcorn posting has me intrigued and I am going to try it this week. No more icky smell either!

  2. fabulous! I'm so glad I found your blog... so many useful tips, this one is GREAT! Now I just need to go buy popcorn!

  3. Glad to be of service! Since I learned about the brown bag method, I've never looked back!

  4. Great, but cans you post some pictures of the closing of the bag??
    or post an instructable!

    thank you

  5. I usually just fold the end of the bag over a couple times and tape it shut - as long as the popcorn doesn't escape, you've done it right. Hope this helps.