If you love popcorn, then you probably like to cook it. While there aren’t too many different core methods for cooking our fluffy friends, there are enough cooking methods to keep us entertained for years to come!
A lot of people like to cook it on a stove-top or in a pot, and in most cases; this cooking is performed in the kitchen. Some diehard fans actually have their own machine inside their bedroom, so they can cook their favorite kernels whenever they’re in the mood.
The stores are packed with many types, and these are examples of commercial cooking. The companies that produce store-bought bags use special machinery.
The first-ever machines made specifically to cook your favorite snack were invented in 1885. It was in 1893 that a man named Charles Cretors introduced his very own popping machine. The event was called the Columbian Exposition, which was a sort of world fair.
At the same time, another man invented molasses-flavored, candied corn, and this was the first caramel corn ever made. You’re probably aware of the delectable treat called Cracker Jacks. Well, the original recipe for this treat was an altered version of the first-ever candied variety.
Don’t you want to know how Cretor’s machine works? It was actually patented and powered by stream. It was what you would call a steam-driven machine. It uses oil to force kernels to pop.
Before the introduction of this revolutionary machine, vendors had to hold a wire basket over an open flame, which produced a dry, hot and unevenly cooked product. The machine that Cretor made used a special mixture, which was two-thirds lard, one-third clarified butter and salt.
This special mixture was used because it was able to withstand over 450 degrees of heat. This was the temperature that was needed to make everything perfect. The earliest model of this machine produced a little bit of smoke.
How Cretor’s Machine Works
The machine had a boiler, and there was a fire under the boiler, which was needed to produce steam. The steam created in the boiler was used to drive an engine.
The role of the engine was to drive the agitator, shaft and gears, which stirred the corn. The engine was also used to power a little puppet-like contraption, which was used for amusement. The machine was designed to allow the vendor to dump popped product into a storage bin while the engine continued to run.
Exhaust produced by the machine was ran through piping and used to keep the product hot. Any excess steam that was produced was used to power a whistle, and the whistle was used by the vendor to attract customers.
How Does It Work Today?
Today, if you ever visit China, you might see some similar popping machines on the streets. The machine that you might see on the streets of China has a cast-iron canister, which is sometimes called a hammer, and the hammer is sealed with a very heavy lid and turned slowly over a small curbside fire. Think rotisserie chicken.
There is a pressure gauge connected to the canister, and when the pressure reaches the ideal level, the vendor removes the canister from the fire. The reason why this method is so cool is because it causes all of the kernels to pop in a single explosion. After the kernels pop, the vendor lifts the lid and pours all of the popped product into a sack for the customer.
These days, you have the option of buying a personal popper, and this device is specifically created for popping your own stuff. Most personal poppers do not produce a yield larger than a single gallon, but that amount is more than enough popcorn for a single person.
One of the cheapest and most popular types of popper is called an air popper, and it circulates hot air until all of the kernels pop.
Other types of machines allow you to put some oil or butter into the popper, which facilitates the process. Now that you know some of the past and present popcorn cooking methods, it’s time to purchase your own popper and make your own batch of yummy!