Saturday, July 5, 2008

Remember the Popcorn

You may have staples and basics in your preparedness pantry. Well, on that same shelf should be another kind of grain that must be considered a priority. That would be popcorn. Yes, popcorn! In our experiences of living through extremely difficult times, one of the things that bailed us out of the doldrums in many instances was popcorn. From now on make popcorn one of those items that must be included when you think of the Morale Boosters you will need for comfort food – no matter what time or season of year it may be!

Did you know that popcorn can be part of a meal as well as a snack? A good-for-you lunch is a good-sized bowl of popcorn and a bowl of canned peaches, or some other fruit. In fact, the Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition, (University of California at Berkeley, Random House, 1992) details how nutritional popcorn really is.

“… Popcorn is a nutritional winner. It’s high in both complex carbohydrates and fiber: Ounce for ounce, popcorn has about three times as much fiber as chickpeas, and about six times the fiber found in cooked broccoli. One cup of popped corn, prepared in an air popper, contains just 30 calories and virtually no fat.”

Popcorn stores as well as any other grain. That’s what makes it ideal as a morale booster for hard times. Unlike ice cream or chocolate, popcorn will last for years if you keep it in an airtight container, in a dark, dry, and cool area. Even in a regular cupboard or pantry, if you transfer it from its original packaging into a glass or plastic jar, it has wonderful keeping qualities. For long-term pantry purposes, regular popcorn is much better to stock than the microwave version. Microwave popcorn is usually loaded with fat and various other ingredients that can turn rancid very quickly. Keep the microwave popcorn for everyday eating, if you want, but for long-term storage, choose the regular kind.

The economy of regular popcorn is high on its “reasons-to-buy” list. The ration of unpopped to popped kernels will vary with the kind of corn as well as its age. An approximate rule of thumb is that ½ cup of dry corn when popped will fill a four-quart bowl. That’s an overflowing 16 cups.

Sometimes stored popcorn will lose its “pop.” That is because it has lost its moisture content. Simply put a cup or two of popcorn at a time into a glass or plastic jar that has a tight-fitting lid. Sprinkle a few drops of water into the corn, put the lid on tightly and shake it well. Let the popcorn sit at least several hours, or overnight. It will absorb the moisture and can then be popped. Don’t add water to large amounts of corn at one time. Too much moisture will cause it to mold.

You can always season popcorn to taste with garlic or onion powder, a small amount of cheese powder or grated cheese, or a “Season All” type of spice combination. Or you can even use cinnamon and sugar. You could try the combination of sugar and salt that has become so popular with the kettle-corn style of popcorn. Sometimes the spices or flavorings won’t stick to the popped corn. If this happens, spray your popcorn with a quick spritz of cooking spray, then add your seasonings. It doesn’t change the taste or feel of the popcorn but it will make the flavoring stick.

If you scratch on the computer screen just maybe the smell will waft into the room, and off you’ll go to fix that popcorn. On the other hand … Just don’t forget your supply of popcorn.

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