Condo Blues: How to Repop Popcorn Kernels




Sunday, March 1, 2009

How to Repop Popcorn Kernels

One of my favorite go to snacks is popcorn. I like to make my popcorn old school – in a pot on the stove. It’s less wasteful than microwave popcorn, inexpensive, and if you don’t slather it in butter (real or fake), it’s pretty darn healthy.

After enjoying a bowl of popcorn during a pay per view movie on cable (no, not that kind of pay per view movie - get your mind out of the gutter – we watched Momma Mia! ) there were quite a few unpopped kernels in the bottom of the bowl. Normally I’d chuck them in the trash bin because I don’t think the kernels would break down in the composter and the last thing I need is for The Condo to look like Green Acres with corn accidently growing all over my front flowerbeds!

I looked at the unpopped popcorn kernels and thought about Crunchy Chicken’s Food Waste Reduction Challenge. I’d actually have something to report if I them threw away unless…I repopped those unpopcorn kernels and ate them.


I remember my mom telling me that her Grandmother would repop popcorn kernels but my mom said that it never worked for her. I figured what the hey? The worse that could happen is that I burn the kernels and throw them out which I was about to do anyway. I tried it and guess what – it worked!

How to Pop Popcorn on the Stove



As a point of reference, here are the directions for popping popcorn on the stove according to the directions on the bag.

1. Cover the bottom of a pot with cooking oil.
2. Add one or two corn kernels to the pot.
3. Cover the pot with a lid and set the heat on the stove to medium-high.
4. After the kernel pops, add the rest of the popcorn to the pot.
5. Cover the pot with a lid, and shake it occasionally so it doesn’t burn until the popcorn stops popping.
6. Season as desired and eat!

How to RePop Popcorn Kernels on the Stove

To repop the spent popcorn kernels I had to modify the directions from the popcorn bag a bit. Please remember that I’m repopping popcorn kernels that have already gone though one popping session on a stove. I don’t know how or if this stove technique will work with unpopped kernels that have gone through a popping session in the microwave or in an electric/air popcorn popper.

1. Cover the bottom of a pot with cooking oil.
2. Skip the above test kernel Steps 2 -4.
3. Pour all of the popcorn kernels you want to repop into the bottom of the pan.
4. Cover the pot with a lid and set the heat to medium, which on my electric stove is five.


  • You lucky people with natural gas stoves will have to figure out what setting is medium-low for yourselves.

  • The key is to heat the popcorn at a slightly lower temperature for a little longer. It’s like the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race – or in this case, pops more unpopped popcorn kernels.


5. Wait for the popcorn to start popping and shake the pot occasionally so it doesn’t burn until the popcorn stops popping.
6. Season your popcorn with salt or your favorite herbs (I like basil and oregano) and enjoy!

Whaddaya think? Are you going to try it? Or have you tried it? Did it work?

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14 comments :

Erika Jean said...

but do you have oil you then have to throw away?

I like to tak popcorn, put it in a brown lunch bag, fold the top over and pop it in the microwave.... not sure if it would work for re-popping... but you don't have any oil/butter in the bag so you could re-use it!

Sinclair said...

I applaud you for forgoing the microwave. We haven't used a microwave for several years now. Thank you for the tips.

Satellite TV said...
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Cheap Like Me said...

Oh, boy. I use an air popper that I bought at the thrift store about 15 years ago. I can't bring myself to like the oil flavor! I don't know if the unpopped kernels would repop in that ... but I usually only have a half-dozen or so, so I don't see myself trying.

One good thing about your electric stove is that it's "cleaner" energy than natural gas, right? Sometimes we feel a bit guilty about our natural gas power ... if that's any consolation. :)

Cheap Like Me said...

Oh, boy. I use an air popper that I bought at the thrift store about 15 years ago. I can't bring myself to like the oil flavor! I don't know if the unpopped kernels would repop in that ... but I usually only have a half-dozen or so, so I don't see myself trying.

One good thing about your electric stove is that it's "cleaner" energy than natural gas, right? Sometimes we feel a bit guilty about our natural gas power ... if that's any consolation. :)

SimplyForties said...

Very interesting. It would never occur to me to re-pop the unpopped kernals. I would think, to make it worth the trouble and energy use, you'd have to save them up and do this when you have a batch. I'm not sure I'm frugal enough to do that. I'm going to ponder it. Glad to know it's even a possibility!

Condo Blues said...

Erika Jean - I try to cover the bottom of the pot with just a little oil, enough so the popcorn won't burn. I don't have oil to thow away when I'm done.

Erika Jean & Sinclair - I couldn't get the microwave and paper bag method to work the first couple of times I tried it so I abandoned it. I pretty much only use my microwave for heating coffee and leftovers (sans plastic container) for lunch.

Cheap Like Me - My mom gave me her air popcorn popper in college and I eventually killed it with too many popcorn parties in my dorm room! It made great popcorn though.

As for if electricity or natural gas is cleaner or cleaner energy really depends upon where you live and how they generate the majority of power that is sent to your home (all electritic plants in the US buy and sell excess power to each other. It makes good business sense and it's mandated by federal law.) In my case natural gas is cleaner than electricity. My power company has only 2 small out of state hyrdo plants, a nuclear plant, and the rest are coal fired plants. Another reason to cut my electric use as much as possible! :)

SimplyForties - if I have quite a bit of unpopped kernels I put them in a container in the pantry and toss them in the pot & pop them with the regular poppcorn kernels. Unless in this case when I got a little too heavy handed with pouring in the kernels and the repopped ones made for a bowl of popcorn. Oops!

Sarah Eliza said...

I really like this idea! I was always frustrated by the unpopped kernels when I was little, and I still love popcorn... my latest favorite is spicing it up with curry. I can totally see myself trying this -- thanks for the tip!

Anonymous said...

If you're popping the bagged-type in the microwave, you won't have a whole lot of success by just putting em back in the microwave..

Most of the time when you make popcorn, you use oil or butter.

Not only does the oil and butter help keep the popcorn from sticking to the pan and burning, but it also helps heat the kernels more evenly.

If you poured your popcorn into a microwave safe bowl, you can just toss that into the microwave, add a splash of oil/butter, put something over the top to keep the popcorn in the bowl, and cook it again for about a minute, or until you can't hear any more *pop*.

There will always be a few kernels that don't pop, but the ones that are left over are usually pretty easy to chew ( I really like em ).

Good luck re-popping :)

Anonymous said...

I have repopped skillet popped popcorn since I was 9 years old. I am 53 now. I, too, do not like the microwaved popcorn. You can open the microwave bag and put that corn in the skillet. I have. Anyway, i never let the grease get hot or shake the skillet. I never burned popcorn either.

chickadeed said...

For the record, this also works with unpopped microwave popcorn kernels, and it tastes much better!

I had to wait about 5 mins, where I was beginning to doubt if it was going to work, but they started popping, and nearly all of them, save for maybe 5 popped, and none burned. Yay!

Anonymous said...

Also to help the kernels pop...you can add a half teaspoon or so of water to a jar of popcorn & shake well, and it will rehydrate the kernels so they'll pop well, again. Then try popping the kernels again. Store the jar in the fridge and wait until the water is absorbed. But don't drown your popcorn or it will mold instead of rehydrating.

Kristen said...

worked like a dream and I ended up with 3x as much popcorn as we got out of the microwave bag. thanks!

Anonymous said...

I ended up burning mine so they didn't taste too great but had I taken them off the heat in time it would have worked just fine! Thanks for the post :] I hated seeing half my bag of kernels unpopped.

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