Thursday, June 11, 2020

Making Popcorn on a Wood Cookstove

I like popcorn, but Nancy LOVES popcorn.  Her grandparents, with whom she frequently stayed, would have popcorn for Sunday night supper.  Her grandmother made it in the bottom of an old pressure cooker which she shook over a burner of her propane stove.  We are a little more uptown with a Lindy's stainless steel stovetop corn popper that we purchased at an Amish store, but we still use a stove rather than a microwave or electric popper.

Making popcorn on the gas stove is very easy, but there was a bit of a learning curve for us when it came to popping corn on the wood cookstove.  Here is the key: you've got to have a REALLY HOT fire burning in the stove in order to get the best popcorn.  Thus, at the risk of sounding like a broken record on this blog, we use lots of small sticks to build a raging inferno when we are going to make popcorn.  You can see one of the fires built for popping corn during the Covid-19 Quarantine in the picture below.

You can't tell it well from the photo above, but I try to keep the bulk of the fuel toward the front of the firebox so that the hottest part of the cooktop is the front left lid.  This is the easiest spot to place the popcorn popper since you have to be able to lightly hold the handle with one hand and turn the crank with the other.

Nancy puts a little canola oil in the bottom of the popper along with two kernels of corn, places it on the fire and begins turning the crank.

When she hears the two kernels pop, she knows the oil is the right temperature.

Once the oil is hot, she adds a scant cup of popcorn, shuts the lid and begins turning the crank in earnest.  She says the popcorn is done popping when she can no longer turn the crank.

Within minutes, she has a popper full of delicious popcorn, which she pours out into one of our large stainless steel bowls.  She then seasons it as she desires, and we scarf it down.  If you want, you could use the recipe at this link in order to make caramel popcorn.  Either way, the popcorn is delicious.


  1. Whenever we went to the farm where my grandparents lived, Grandma made popcorn for us....if we spent the night we had it for breakfast with milk and brown sugar...and later we had huge bowls while we sat around the woodstove listening to "one man's family" and "the shadow" on the radio. Sometimes we made popcorn balls to take home with us. Lovely memories.

    1. Sounds great. I always think of popcorn as the original whole grain cold cereal.