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Have you ever made a big pack of popcorn, only to be full of it after a couple of handfuls? Or maybe you made a whole bunch of it for a movie night party and only half your guests showed up.
Whatever the circumstances that have led you to have any amount of uneaten popcorn that you’re not ready to throw away, you might be wondering what the best way of storing it is going to be and whether it can make it to the next movie night.
Well, there are plenty of options you can pick from, all with varying degrees of effectiveness, so let’s look over some of the choices you have when it comes to keep your popcorn tasting fresh for as long as possible.
Why Does Popcorn Go Bad?
Like a lot of snack food, popcorn doesn’t necessarily spoil the way fresh foods do, but it does go stale. The texture will change from fluffy and crunchy to solid and chewy – which wont exactly be bad for your health, but is bad for the part of you that wants an enjoyable popcorn experience.
Perhaps, if you bought a flavored kind of popcorn, then that flavor will also have diminished if left for too long in an improperly sealed container.
Sometimes, in extreme cases, you might notice mold on the popcorn – which would definitely be bad for your health, so if that happens you’ll want to throw the whole bag/box/tin away immediately.
Keeping Different Kinds of Popcorn Fresh
There are three different kinds of popcorn that you can get – microwavable popcorn, popped popcorn, and gourmet popcorn. Each comes with a slightly different shelf life and method of keeping fresh.
Obviously its worth keeping in mind that these are just generic instructions, and that most snack companies will put the best method for keeping their food, and how long they’ll stay fresh for, on the packaging, and it will always be worth reading that as well as trying out these suggestions.
I seriously think that some of my favorite memories from movie nights as a child were the ones spent waiting for the popcorn to start popping in the microwave.
Watching that brown paper bag spin in silence until finally you hear a single pop, followed by the beautiful cacophony of pops until it dies down to silence again (I really like popcorn, in case you can’t tell).
Unpopped, these kernels have a pretty set expiration date. This is because they’re packed with certain oils that make it taste great to begin with, but can eventually start to give the popcorn a bad taste.
You want to use these packs within their best-by date, but I wouldn’t worry if you miss it by a couple of weeks.
Once popped, you’ll want to keep it in as air-tight a container as possible to prevent moisture getting in. Keep it all out of direct sunlight as the sun and warmth can have a negative effect on the popcorn, regardless of how air tight you’ve made it. The best option is to leave in a cupboard or pantry.
If you’ve picked up a bag of pre-popped popcorn, then you don’t need to worry about the kernals going bad or drying out, but you do need to ensure that you keep it stored properly if you want to keep the snack fresh for the next time you get a craving.
The container that the popcorn comes in is likely to not be super air-tight, unless you’ve bought something premium, or perhaps if it comes in a bucket.
Just like the microwavable popcorn, you want to keep it in a pantry or cupboard and it should last for a couple of weeks.
You’ve decided to splash out on the gourmet snack, and you’ll be greatly rewarded for it with great tasting, unique flavors. But in order to ensure those flavors and ingredients stay fresh, gourmet popcorn needs to be taken care of.
Due to the variety of different toppings that you can get on gourmet popcorn, you may need to store it in a different way to other types.
As always, however, you will need to keep it in an air-tight container. The packaging will tell you exactly how you need to store the popcorn and how long it will last.
Some different toppings wont keep as well as others, and so you may have to keep a closer eye on it than you would other types of popcorn.
What About the Fridge?
Most people really don’t recommend leaving popcorn, popped or not, in the fridge. As mentioned above, popcorn is best stored in dry, room temperature places like a pantry or a cupboard, and unfortunately a fridge is not this kind of place.
Popcorn doesn’t need to be cold to be kept fresh, and you actually run the risk of making it go stale quicker. Whilst the moisture in a fridge is good for some foods, but it does nothing for popcorn.
Some gourmet toppings might need to be kept in a fridge once opened, but you’ll want to minimise how long you leave it there for.
That said, you definitely don’t want to store plain kernels in the refrigerator. Kernels pop because they hold a little bit of moisture inside their shell, and once that’s heated up it’s able to pop. If left in the fridge, this moisture will dry out and leave the kernels unable to pop, which would be very disappointing.