The aroma of fresh popcorn is a sure bet when it comes to driving impulse buys. People can’t resist the salty, buttery flavor, either. So, what then can make some popcorn bad and downright inedible? Either you’ve got yourself a batch of bad corn, you’ve used the wrong oil, or your machine’s dirty. Purchasing a good brand of popcorn will take you a long way, but learning how to clean a popcorn machine is vital to achieving the results that will keep patrons lining up for this classic treat.
Popcorn Cleaning Regimen
Popcorn machine cleaning is a fairly simple process when you follow these steps:
- Unplug the machine. This will ensure that no shocking incidents happen.
- Allow the machine to cool from 30 minutes to an hour. The cooling-off period will help prevent burns, as the temperature on these poppers must be extremely high to pop the kernels.
- Unplug and remove the kettle from the unit, then wipe it down with a damp towel or sponge. Never submerge a kettle in water. It may damage the electrical components.
- Wipe down the interior glass surfaces of the popper with a non-ammonia based cleaner.
- Wipe down any interior stainless steel surfaces, such as the heating deck, with a moist towel. Ensure that any surface that touches food is cleaned with a cleanser that is safe for food.
- Wipe the outer surfaces with a damp cloth for metal surfaces and a food-safe glass cleaner for the panes of glass.
Occasionally, grease and oil will cake up on the kettle and a simple rinse won’t bring it off. In this case, the following steps will have your kettle working like new again:
- Fill the kettle with specially-formulated cleaner and about two cups of water
- Bring the concoction up to a boil and then turn off the unit
- Unplug the unit
- After the amount of time has passed that the cleaner instructions specify, empty the liquid into a container and dispose of it properly
- Rinse and replace the kettle, and it will look and operate like a new one
Tips & Tricks
Beyond cleaning a popcorn machine, there are a few tips and tricks to help you create memorable, irresistible popcorn for your patrons:
Coconut and palm oils create great flavor, but they are arguably the least healthy of all the available cooking oils. They also burn the cleanest, so these may be the best option for high-volume applications. Canola, sunflower, peanut, and soy oils are also suitable, but try to avoid vegetable oil. Vegetable oil can’t withstand the heat required to properly prepare popcorn, and this can lead to smoke and fires.
Never store your popcorn in a damp place or in the refrigerator. To keep popcorn from becoming chewy, the best place to store it is in a sealed container at room temperature.
A fail-safe method for making quality batches of popcorn is to purchase pre-packaged kits that have pre-measured popcorn, oil, and salt in precise ratios.
If you’d like a little more flexibility in your popcorn preparation, the following is a guide to help you get your corn just right:
Size of Kettle Amount of Oil Amount of Corn
4 oz. 1/4 cup 1/2 cup
6 oz. 1/4 cup 1/2 cup
8 oz. 1/3 cup 1 cup
12 oz. 1/2 cup 1-1/2 cup
14 oz. 1/2 cup 1-3/4 cup
16 oz. 2/3 cup 2 cup
20 oz. 3/4 cup 2-1/2 cup