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Is This How You Get Fluffier Popcorn?

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When I make popcorn, one of two things happen: I end up with a good portion of the popcorn unpopped, not-so-silently cursing those dud kernels (I also chipped a tooth once on one of them, but that was my own fault) or my popcorn ends up kind of squat-looking, not nearly as fluffy as the bagged stuff.

Which is why, when I saw a supposedly surefire, easy "hack" for fluffier, less-dud-y popcorn pop featured on blogs around the web (like here and here), I was ecstatic. I jumped (figuratively) around with glee, like a little popcorn kernel poppin' out of the pot. Exciting stuff!

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Perfect Popcorn
Perfect Popcorn

The Internet-approved tip is as follows: Soak popcorn kernels in water for 10 minutes, then drain and pop as normal. The theory is that the extra moisture helps produce fluffier puffs. But does it work?

As a test, I divided 1/4 cup unpopped kernels among two bowls. In one of the bowls, I covered the kernels by about an inch of water, let them soak for 10 minutes, and drained. Then, I popped both bowls in separate pots on the stove using the popping method outlined in this recipe. Here's what happened:

Non-Soaked

  • Total time to pop: 7 minutes
  • Yield: A little over 5 cups
  • Duds: 3

Soaked

  • Total time to pop: 6 minutes
  • Yield: A little over 4 cups
  • Duds: 2
In both photos: Un-soaked popcorn (left) and soaked popcorn (right).

And as you can see from the photos above, the soaked popcorn did, in fact, produce some fluffier popcorn despite having a lower yield (Weird, right? I'm still trying to figure out this one myself). But while some pieces were noticeably fluffier, the difference throughout was negligible.

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As for the taste, I couldn't tell the difference between the two, however my boyfriend swore the soaked popcorn tasted more substantial and popcorn-ier. I don't know.

So, will I be soaking popcorn? Probably not. In the time it took for the kernels to soak, I could've already made a batch of non-soaked popcorn, even if it would've had a few more duds.

Do you have a trick for fluffier popcorn? Tell us in the comments!