Chewy Popcorn :-( - AVS Forum
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Theater Room Items & Accessories > Chewy Popcorn :-(
Digital Man's Avatar Digital Man 07:22 PM 09-02-2008
I bought a Paragon Contempo 4 oz popcorn maker last year after finally finishing my home theater. I'm a huge popcorn fan, but I'm very disappointed with the popcorn I make. It is often so chewy that when you chew it, it chews up into hard little clumps that I have to either swallow whole or spit out. It's not light and fluffy like either movie theater or microwave popcorn. It doesn't break apart when I chew it like good popcorn, but clumps up instead.

I've googled and searched here, but so far I haven't found the cause for this so I'm begging for your help.

Now I am using Pop Weaver Napspak Butter Flavored 4 oz packages. I had the same problem with the previous case of popcorn, though I can't remember the brand anymore. At work we have an 8 oz Gold Metal popcorn machine and they use the 8 oz version of the exact same popcorn I use and theirs tastes fine. I probably need to try half of their 8 oz packages in my machine and try one of my 4 oz packages in their machine to try and narrow down the problem.

From searching, many people said that popcorn with too much moisture in it can be chewy, so they recommended popping it a few hours in advance of eating and leaving it in the warming tray and this does seem to help mine. However, when I take it out of the warming tray and eat it cold for the next few days, it's very chewy again.

I live in Colorado where it's very dry. I leave the door partly open when popping to let the steam escape. I let the kettle warm up about 5 minutes before putting in the coconut oil. Then when the oil melts, I put in the popcorn. The kernels seem to be popping all the way as best I can tell.

Any idea of my popper could be bad, or if both cases of popcorn I bought were bad, or if I'm just popping it wrong, or something else?

Thanks,
Guy

MidLife's Avatar MidLife 07:43 PM 09-02-2008
What is the sell-by date on the package?
If it doesn't have one it's probably stale.
I used Gold medal "Megapop" for years because everyone said it was best.
Well, not only is it the most expensive popcorn on the market, I think it is not nearly the best.
I stopped using it period.
It was just too expensize and all the hype was overrated.
My "personal" favorite is Country Harvest popcorn pre packs and coming in a easy second in Cinemagic popcorn. They both are #1: a bunch cheaper than Gold Medal and #2: Crispier, tastier and easily dissolved in the mouth than Gold Medal.
suffolk112000's Avatar suffolk112000 07:52 PM 09-02-2008
Try this for starters.
Turn on your machine.
Measure and pour your oil.
Let it heat for about three or four minutes then throw in a three or four fresh kernels.
Wait for them to pop.
Once they pop, pour in your popcorn and salt.
If you can, crack your doors just a little bit while each batch is cooking to let some of the steam out.
If you are making a couple of batches, I like to stir up the popcorn in the warming tray while the second batch is cooking. Once the second batch starts cooking close the doors as you did with the first batch leaving them a bit cracked.
This should make a big difference in the way your popcorn tastes.

Another thing you need to be carful of is whether your popcorn is stale/old.
If the above does not work, stale expired popcorn would be my next suspect.

Where is Brickie when you need him.
MidLife's Avatar MidLife 07:52 PM 09-02-2008
oh, and I need a followup. I've been home popping for 5 years in a Paragon Theater Pop. I even pop huge sessions for sales and fund raisers! Stale popcorn will turn out as you describe. However, with fresh corn here are my tips:
Oil in the kettle first, let melt and get plenty hot. Add corn and flavacol. Dump kettle prior to all kernals popped. Wipe immediately (use caution or heat proof gloves) and repeat.
Leave door ajar, A few dozen kernals on the floor doesn't matter, that "STEAM" needs to be separated from the popcorn PRONTO!!!!!!!!
This can't be over emphasized. A top vent popper produces the BEST results! My next mod to my popper is a top ventalation system.
Popped corn MUST sit in a bottom heated corn deck for at least an hour stirring every 15 minutes. Don't skip this step!
Believe me, I started out the same way, Sh]tty popcorn from my "commercial" popcorn machine. jar
Fresh Popcorn. Door Ajar. Heated Corn Deck one hour min. Stir.
Try several brands and rule out the tough, starchy, clumpy (Gold Medal) brands and enjoy!
suffolk112000's Avatar suffolk112000 07:57 PM 09-02-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by MidLife View Post

oh, and I need a followup. I've been home popping for 5 years in a Paragon Theater Pop. I even pop huge sessions for sales and fund raisers! Stale popcorn will turn out as you describe. However, with fresh corn here are my tips:
Oil in the kettle first, let melt and get plenty hot. Add corn and flavacol. Dump kettle prior to all kernals popped. Wipe immediately (use caution or heat proof gloves) and repeat.
Leave door ajar, A few dozen kernals on the floor doesn't matter, that "STEAM" needs to be separated from the popcorn PRONTO!!!!!!!!
This can't be over emphasized. A top vent popper produces the BEST results! My next mod to my popper is a top ventalation system.
Popped corn MUST sit in a bottom heated corn deck for at least an hour stirring every 15 minutes. Don't skip this step!
Believe me, I started out the same way, Sh]tty popcorn from my "commercial" popcorn machine. jar
Fresh Popcorn. Door Ajar. Heated Corn Deck one hour min. Stir.
Try several brands and rule out the tough, starchy, clumpy (Gold Medal) brands and enjoy!

Sound like our methods are pretty close. Hopfully we have helped the OP.
MidLife's Avatar MidLife 08:04 PM 09-02-2008
Yes, I've been popping for years.
and I'm sorry to say, I don't buy the Megapop anymore.
It just was too tough and chewy with those "hard bits" which I assume are starch or something other that you can't chew and gotta spit out. All popcorn has it, it just seems Gold Medal has more of it. So, I tried some IOWA brands and found better tasting and textured products.
These are my personal opinions and I think that is what viewers of these forums like to view. I can get great tasting popcorn for HALF the price of MeagaPOP.
tlogan6797's Avatar tlogan6797 07:01 AM 09-03-2008
Try cutting down the amount of oil. Instructions with my machine say to use 1/4 cup...I use a tablesppon per quarter cup corn. And I use canola oil.
HeyNow^'s Avatar HeyNow^ 08:00 AM 09-03-2008
I don't know if this makes a difference or not, but I believe that the oil must be very hot prior to putting the corn in. I am no expert, but when I put the corn in with the oil and fire it up, it seems to come out chewier (is that a word?). I use coconut oil because the dog requested it.
MidLife's Avatar MidLife 08:17 AM 09-03-2008
Even though I use the "pre-packs" portions, I do so in two steps. I know they say to cut the whole top off and dump in, I cut off the top over the oil portion first, and then a little bit later, cut of the popcorn part and dump in.
This actually is more troublesome with the pre-packs, so, I think my next order will be for the coconut oil bars and plain popcorn and use the measure cups I have to measure the corn. When I go to concessions where they serve popcorn, I notice they break a stick of coconut bar (looks like a stick of butter) and then dump in a cup full of popcorn. Anyone use the separate coconut bars and corn?
tlogan6797's Avatar tlogan6797 09:09 AM 09-03-2008
Quote:
I believe that the oil must be very hot prior to putting the corn in

Probably true....I put the oil in and wait to see some smoke rising, then dump in the corn.
HeyNow^'s Avatar HeyNow^ 09:22 AM 09-03-2008
I am going to have to try the canola oil, Tom. I don't eat much popcorn anymore because of the coconut oil.
JimMac's Avatar JimMac 11:17 AM 09-03-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by tlogan6797 View Post

Try cutting down the amount of oil. Instructions with my machine say to use 1/4 cup...I use a tablesppon per quarter cup corn. And I use canola oil.

I have to agree with this statement, as I was having the same problem until I reduced the oil, using bulk coconut oil and popcorn. 1oz/1.5oz of oil to 4 oz of popcorn seemed to do the trick. Much crisper.
MidLife's Avatar MidLife 11:30 AM 09-03-2008
MidLife's Avatar MidLife 11:40 AM 09-03-2008
What type of bulk oil do you use?
Cameron's Avatar Cameron 05:57 PM 09-03-2008
How long does the bulk oil keep?
suffolk112000's Avatar suffolk112000 08:09 PM 09-03-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by MidLife View Post

Even though I use the "pre-packs" portions, I do so in two steps. I know they say to cut the whole top off and dump in, I cut off the top over the oil portion first, and then a little bit later, cut of the popcorn part and dump in.

Yes.. yes!!
When I am using pre-packs, I do this as well.
I think the most important issues to address are: pre-heating kettle before adding corn. Keep the door on your popcorn machine partially open while popping to allow steam to escape.
tlogan6797's Avatar tlogan6797 07:23 AM 09-04-2008
HeyNow^ -

The nice thing is you can usually find pretty small bottles of the canola oil at the grocery store to just try out.

Good luck,
Tom
Digital Man's Avatar Digital Man 08:58 PM 09-04-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by MidLife View Post

What is the sell-by date on the package?
If it doesn't have one it's probably stale.
I used Gold medal "Megapop" for years because everyone said it was best.
Well, not only is it the most expensive popcorn on the market, I think it is not nearly the best.
I stopped using it period.
It was just too expensize and all the hype was overrated.
My "personal" favorite is Country Harvest popcorn pre packs and coming in a easy second in Cinemagic popcorn. They both are #1: a bunch cheaper than Gold Medal and #2: Crispier, tastier and easily dissolved in the mouth than Gold Medal.

The Pop Weaver popcorn packs I currently have say: Best by Jan 17, 2009 and Prod: Jan 17, 2008. So it's a little old, but within the Best By date. I bought a case, so I have quite a bit left. Think that is too old?

Now that you mention it, I think the previous popcorn I tried was Megapop and it was chewy as well. Maybe I'll try some Country Harvest next time I buy.

Guy
Digital Man's Avatar Digital Man 09:00 PM 09-04-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by suffolk112000 View Post

Try this for starters.
Turn on your machine.
Measure and pour your oil.
Let it heat for about three or four minutes then throw in a three or four fresh kernels.
Wait for them to pop.
Once they pop, pour in your popcorn and salt.
If you can, crack your doors just a little bit while each batch is cooking to let some of the steam out.
If you are making a couple of batches, I like to stir up the popcorn in the warming tray while the second batch is cooking. Once the second batch starts cooking close the doors as you did with the first batch leaving them a bit cracked.
This should make a big difference in the way your popcorn tastes.

Another thing you need to be carful of is whether your popcorn is stale/old.
If the above does not work, stale expired popcorn would be my next suspect.

Where is Brickie when you need him.

That is exactly the popping procedure I use most of the time. I've tried putting the popcorn in sooner, but most of the time I put a few kernels in and then add the rest when they pop.

Guy
Digital Man's Avatar Digital Man 09:04 PM 09-04-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by MidLife View Post

Even though I use the "pre-packs" portions, I do so in two steps. I know they say to cut the whole top off and dump in, I cut off the top over the oil portion first, and then a little bit later, cut of the popcorn part and dump in.
This actually is more troublesome with the pre-packs, so, I think my next order will be for the coconut oil bars and plain popcorn and use the measure cups I have to measure the corn. When I go to concessions where they serve popcorn, I notice they break a stick of coconut bar (looks like a stick of butter) and then dump in a cup full of popcorn. Anyone use the separate coconut bars and corn?

Yep, I do my pre-packs in two steps as well.

Guy
Digital Man's Avatar Digital Man 09:05 PM 09-04-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by tlogan6797 View Post

Probably true....I put the oil in and wait to see some smoke rising, then dump in the corn.

This suggestion has come up a few times. Next time I pop I'll wait until the oil is as hot as possible.

Guy
suffolk112000's Avatar suffolk112000 10:08 AM 09-05-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital Man View Post

That is exactly the popping procedure I use most of the time. I've tried putting the popcorn in sooner, but most of the time I put a few kernels in and then add the rest when they pop.

Guy

Hey Guy, this is very strange.
When you pre-heat the kettle like I was saying and wait for your two or three kernels to pop before dumping in the rest, how long would you say it takes for your corn to pop after you have dumped in your batch?

Another thing you can try is going to the grocery store and picking up a small batch of fresh popcorn. Just find the smallest container you can of something like Orvals or something. This would allow you to get an idea as to whether your existing popcorn is to old. I don't think it is, but you never know.
Anther thing that is very important is to leave your doors on your popper cracked. I actually leave mine completely open until it starts popping to the point that it is overflowing the kettle. Then I crack the doors.
I am going to make something that I can put inside the popper door that has a screen on it to keep the corn from popping out, but allows me to leave a door open and let the steam out.
What can I say… I like my popcorn.
I'll let you know how it works.
sofakng's Avatar sofakng 05:38 AM 11-07-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by MidLife View Post

Popped corn MUST sit in a bottom heated corn deck for at least an hour stirring every 15 minutes. Don't skip this step!

Is this really needed? I've just ordered a Paragon TP 4oz and I'm doing some research on how to make the popcorn and found this thread but making the popcorn an hour before you want to eat it sounds like a huge pain

Also, what is this I hear about the Paragon 4oz only having the heated tray on one side?
KenLerch's Avatar KenLerch 06:35 AM 11-07-2008
No, I don't think this is necessary. We just popped about two cases worth of popcorn in our store on Halloween and gave it away to Trick or Treaters and parents. The popcorn was a little old (but not expired) and tasted fine and was not chewy without letting it sit there for an hour to "dry out". I recommend popping with the doors open to let the steam out and letting it sit for maybe 15 minutes. But I grabbed some (it was Country Harvest brand) as it came out of the kettle and it was tasty. But everyone has different taste and everyone uses different popcorn, and has different levels of "perfection" and patience.

And the warming deck on the Paragon machines works fine IMHO. The heating element is on the right side because of the holes for old maids... But it works fine.
IrmoGamecoq's Avatar IrmoGamecoq 06:36 AM 11-07-2008
It's *best* if you can let it fully dry out in the popper, but I think it usually tastes fine right out of the kettle too.
MidLife's Avatar MidLife 08:05 AM 11-07-2008
"Is this really needed?"

Yes. The thread was about soggy/chewy popcorn, so, yes, it is needed if your popcorn is not fresh!
When popping corn, the steam from the popping process itself must be mitigated ASAP! This results in the crispiest popcorn. Additional drying sfter the popping process provides for even crisper popcorn.
Consuming directly after popping ( with fresh popcorn and fresh ingredients in the proper portions ) results in acceptable product, however, many prefer for the popcorn to warm a little and dry out a little before consumption. You will find many on this forum that have commented that they even enjoy the popcorn the next day after warming in their machine.
sofakng's Avatar sofakng 08:24 AM 11-07-2008
Thanks for all of the help everybody
KenLerch's Avatar KenLerch 08:30 AM 11-07-2008
Quote:


many on this forum that have commented that they even enjoy the popcorn the next day after warming in their machine

me included...
MidLife's Avatar MidLife 09:31 AM 11-07-2008
I actually "prefer" it the next day (just as long as it's WARM). Don't know why. I think it's a little more palatable (lighter and crispier) for some reason. Probably because that's the way the real theaters do it..

soafkng, I have the same machine you ordered. it's a nice little workhorse. You will get the hang of making popcorn in no time. I personally like to make up the evenings popcorn ahead of time. Making the corn requires full attention every step of the way, and is hard to interact with guests while making it, unless they like to watch. i like to make up several batches, and then cleanup (wash hands, put away supplies, etc) while the popcorn warms and then just serve in a less hectic time. The nice thing about the heated corn deck is that your popcorn never gets "worse", only better. You will enjoy this top quality machine. Compare the build quality with any other once you have used it. You wont regret your purchase.
natgas's Avatar natgas 09:54 AM 11-09-2008
I use only the 'sticks' of coconut oil along with storebought popcorn; I throw a 1/2 stick in the kettle and let it completely melt; then I add some MoreGold to add flavor; finally I put in the corn and flavocol; I leave my doors open and then let it sit--stirring a couple of times--for no more than 10 minutes; it's always tender and tasty!

I will never go back to the packets; I keep my coconut bars in a small fridge until it's time to use them; and I keep my corn in the same fridge.
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