how does microwave popcorn work?

Magical moments start with microwave popcorn, but how does it work?

Learn the science of microwaving popcorn and find out the disadvantages.

Also, learn how to make your microwave popcorn and enjoy snacking!

how does microwave popcorn work?
how does microwave popcorn work?

Microwave popcorn

Popcorn that is pre-packaged in a special paper bag designed to be cooked quickly in the microwave is known as microwave popcorn.

The bags usually come with a variety of ingredients.

Those ingredients include:

  • dried corn
  • cooking oil
  • one or more seasonings (often salt)
  • and either natural or artificial flavourings.

The cooking oil inserted inside the packaging turns solid at room temperature due to the high levels of saturated fat.

Numerous suppliers are offering a wide range of microwave popcorn with different flavours.

How does microwave popcorn work?

Just like instant ramen, and macaroni and cheese, popcorn is one of the most well-known microwaveable foods.

Have you ever wondered why popcorn “pops?” It is a hugely popular snack choice.

We must start by examining how regular stovetop popcorn works.

This would help comprehend the concept behind microwavable popcorn.

Popcorn is a food discovered by Native Americans centuries ago and has been enjoyed ever since.

Popcorn can swell up to forty or fifty times its original size when it pops.

The popping of popcorn is determined by three factors:

  • moisture content
  • Starch content
  • The hardness of its shell.

When heated, the kernel’s protective shell holds in heat and moisture, resulting in steam buildup.

This steam causes the internal pressure to raise and the starchy endosperm to expand and burst in all directions.

Bread expands while it is being baked and silly string transforms into a solid upon exiting the canister.

The microwave is what cooks the popcorn on the other end.

A microwave uses microwave radiation to cause water molecules in the food to vibrate, resulting in heat and making the food hot.

Coming into contact with these short but powerful microwaves could cause a lot of harm to humans.

how does microwave popcorn work?
how does microwave popcorn work?

Microwave popcorn bags contain kernels designed to be cooked by the circulation of heat, creating steam inside.

This bag prevents steam and moisture from escaping, which speeds up the heating of kernels.

General Electric outlines that the popcorn setting simplifies the process of microwaving popcorn.

It eliminates the need to guess the required cooking time.

No matter what kind of microwave you have, the main purpose is to pop popcorn without having to think too hard.

When the popcorn button on your microwave gets pressed, it will use one of two different techniques.

Some less advanced microwaves essentially guess the amount of time needed to pop popcorn.

You can adjust the popping time depending on the weight of the bag in certain scenarios.

Some microwaves have advanced sensors that detect the stage of popcorn popping.

Those sensors work by measuring humidity or steam.

how does microwave popcorn work?
how does microwave popcorn work?

When the microwave detects more steam, it begins its countdown to shut down as the bag of popcorn is almost finished.

These bags are pre-coated with your favourite flavours, thus when your popcorn pops, it will absorb your flavours.

However, always check the ingredients listed on the packaging before purchasing.

It is important to ensure healthy consumption of these oils and flavours,

Some brands may contain a lot of artificial chemicals to enhance flavour.

If you ever have a craving for popcorn, pause for a moment and consider the science behind it to make your treat even more enjoyable.

What issues can arise when using the “popcorn” setting?

It may be tempting to use a steam sensor for popping the perfect bag of popcorn.

However, there can be variations between microwaves and bags meaning the results may not always be consistent.

The settings usually guarantee that you’ll have perfectly popped popcorn.

Although the idea sounds great in theory, it can often lead to overcooked popcorn — and sometimes even worse than having no popcorn at all.

Therefore, it’s important to be careful when using the popcorn setting.

If you want the best popcorn experience, you should avoid certain microwave popcorn brands as they advise against it in their fine print.

Read also: How to microwave broccoli?

how does microwave popcorn work?
how does microwave popcorn work?

Frequently asked questions for how does microwave popcorn work?

What are the disadvantages associated with Microwave popcorn?

There are few health risks associated with microwave popcorn just like all processed food.
One ingredient of concern is diacetyl.
Diacetyl is a chemical that gives foods a butter-like flavour.
So it’s an easy choice for popcorn manufacturers who want to add a real-butter taste to shelf-stable microwave popcorn.
Sadly, those exposed to large quantities of diacetyl may experience health complications.
However, the products themselves have low levels.
Those working in microwave popcorn factories have suffered from lung diseases, and some cases were fatal.
Many companies changed their manufacturing practices and replaced diacetyl with alternative chemicals.
Some related legal actions forced those companies to do so as the case is hazardous.
Nonetheless, it’s believed that some replacements, such as 2,3-pentane dione, may be equally hazardous.
Utilizing unusual techniques such as utilizing a brown paper bag to cook popcorn may involve certain risks.
For example, heating brown paper bags in a microwave can let out toxic chemicals which might endanger your health.
A recent study has found that food packaging makes up a significant proportion of total waste production.
It accounts for approximately two-thirds.
Moreover, the coatings utilized in microwave popcorn bags can have adverse environmental impacts.
Some chemicals that have toxic properties have been found inside the bags.
Microwave popcorn bags are one of the leading contributors to PFCs pollution due to their mass production.
Some manufacturing activities and coated paper disposal were found to lead to the increment of PFOA levels.
Consequently, this caused increasing PFOA levels in wastewater and biosolids.
Soil near disposal sites is contaminated by PFOA as well.

how does microwave popcorn work?

When making your microwave popcorn, it’s important to use a microwave-safe bowl that is large enough to hold the kernels.
Place the kernels in the bowl and cover them with a lid or plate.
Microwave on high for two to three minutes, or until there are several seconds between pops.
Once finished, carefully remove the bowl from the microwave and add any desired seasonings or toppings.
For an even healthier option, try air-popping your popcorn instead of using oil or butter.
Air popping is a great way to get all of the flavours without any added fat or calories.
To air-pop your popcorn, simply place 1/4 cup of kernels into an air popper and turn it on.
The kernels will begin to pop within minutes and you can enjoy a delicious snack without any added fat or calories!

What are the benefits of making microwave popcorn?

Making your microwave popcorn is a great way to enjoy a healthy snack.
It contains no preservatives and chemicals that are found in store-bought varieties.
It’s also an economical choice, as you can buy kernels in bulk for much less than pre-packaged bags.
Plus, you can customize your popcorn with whatever flavours or seasonings you like!

What is the best type of popcorn kernels?

Look for non-GMO or organic varieties.
They don’t contain any artificial ingredients or preservatives.

Read also: How to Microwave Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sandwiches?

Photo of author

Daniel Rogers

My name is Daniel Rogers, a 35-year-old enthusiast of the kitchen. From the moment that I entered the kitchen, I have been passionate about cooking and baking. This passion made me eager enough to know more about the kitchen tools that I use. The older I become, the more I become knowledgeable about kitchen tools. When and how to use a special tool in the kitchen becomes my hobby. I read a lot about many brands, tried some of them by myself, and gathered sufficient information about the others.