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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The History Of Kettle Corn And How To Make It

By Angel Dudley

There is a wealth of folklore surrounding the people who first discovered the recipe for kettle corn. It is quite possible that one or more could be true. Several times throughout history different people have stumbled upon the same idea within the same time span. It may also be difficult discovering the truth because some times various groups of people would like to take credit for some thing and pass on embellished stories to their young children that their grandparents told them.

One such story tells that it was created around the turn of the 18th century by Dutch settlers in the Pennsylvania region. They typically cooked it to sell to people during festivals and fairs that everyone went to. They are believed to be those responsible for first using molasses and sorghum as flavors while it was cooking it in their Dutch ovens.

Another story suggests that around mid 1800's cowboys or farmers would often celebrate the finish of their harvest and cattle round ups by preparing it. They would warm up their cast iron soup pots after coating the bottom with animal lard. After warming it up they would drop in the popcorn with what ever sweetener they had left over. Sugar was quite expensive in the old west so they generally used sorghum or molasses which was cheaper. As often stirred the popping corn with wooden spoons or their hands.

Probably the most fascinating explanation tells of a German immigrant that came to the states. Around the 1800's Hans Adair brought his wife and two children to Missouri and started over with a new life. His brother owned a local store and to make money they would sell popcorn, which was very cheap at the time, and cover it with different flavorings.

The recipe is actually very simple and requires only a few ingredients. A quarter cup oil or animal fat. Many purists prefer to use animal fat for a better flavor. A quarter cup of what ever sweetener you will be using. You will also need a half cup of unpopped popcorn.

It is typically best to use a thick bottomed pot that will spread any the heat evenly. Dump in your oil and just three kernels, wait for the oil to get hot. After the first 3 kernels pop, put in your sugar and other sweeteners you will use and stir before adding the popcorn.

Stir it some more and cover it up. Shake it often while it is popping and dump it inside a bowl immediately when it is done. Various popcorns have different tastes or textures, so experiment with different types to find what you like.

Even though historically kettle corn was prepared in cast iron pans in the past, most people still enjoy making this treat at home. The real trick is to shake it up often while it is first popping and to take it of the heat as soon as possible after it pops to prevent the sweetener from caramelizing. You could use any kind of sweetener you prefer to use like honey, sorghum, sugar and molasses.

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