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POPCORN POPPING OILS

With so many options for popcorn oil, we thought we would help you understand the differences and hopefully correct any bad information you might have heard or read. We will cover the chemistry, nutritional values, allergens and more. Each type of oil will have its own noticeably unique taste, which can influence the flavor of your popcorn. Many popcorn oils thicken and turn to a solid, but if you let them stand at room temperature they will soon return to liquid.

Many, if not all commercially sold popcorn oil will have several different kinds of oils combined together, along with an artificial butter flavor and yellow coloring added. Many oils are either partially or fully hydrogenated to make the product more stable and extend the shelf-life. Partially hydrogenated oils will contain trans-fats, whereas fully hydrogenated will have zero trans fats. We only recommend using specialized popcorn oil designed for use in a popcorn machine and do not suggest using standard, off the shelf cooking oils.

The temperature in a popping kettle usually exceeds 450°F. This temperature will carbonize and burn oil left in the kettle. Some oils are more inclined to creating a carbon buildup the kettles. This has a direct relationship to the amount of polyunsaturated fat in the oil. The oil chosen should not smoke at the popping temperature. Oils heated to their smoke points begin to decompose and will have a very short shelf life.

Coconut Oil

The most popular popcorn oil by far and extracted from coconut flesh (copra). A thick oil with a sweet smell and lightly nutty taste. Coconut popcorn oil has a long and stable shelf-life. Also regarded as the cleanest cooking oil for popcorn due to the fact that it does not create a lot of carbon in the popping kettle. Allergy warning to persons with a nut allergy. Coconut oil has a melt point of 76°F and can solidify in cold weather climates.

Soybean Oil

Commonly called vegetable oil, extracted from the seeds of the soybean plant. Soybean oil is a bland oil with neutral flavor that has no trans-fats, contains low amounts of saturated fat and like all other vegetable oils, it contains natural antioxidants. Omega-6 fatty acids, found naturally in soybean oil, may also decrease risk of heart disease. Without further processing, it has a short shelf-life and can easily turn rancid. Soybean oil is typically partially or fully hydrogenated to increase shelf-life.

Canola (Rapeseed) Oil

Extracted from canola plant seeds. Mild flavor. Claimed to be "healthiest" of all commonly used cooking oils due to its very low saturated fat and high monounsaturated fat content, and beneficial omega-3 fatty acid profile. Without further processing, it has a short shelf-life and can easily turn rancid. Canola oil is typically partially or fully hydrogenated to increase shelf-life. Some Canola oil varieties will separate into liquid and solid phases at lower temperatures.

Corn Oil

Comes from the center region of the kernel called the germ, which contains a small amount of oil that's pressed out. Corn oil has a mild taste and is typically less expensive than most other types of vegetable oils. Without further processing, it has a short shelf-life and can easily turn rancid. Canola oil is typically partially or fully hydrogenated to increase shelf-life.

Sunflower Oil

Processed from the oilseed (a small black seed containing a very high oil content). Sunflower oil is light in taste and appearance and has a high Vitamin E content. It is a combination of mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats with low saturated fat levels. To extend shelf-life, it will typically contain acid and preservatives.

Peanut Oil

Adds a rich and nutty taste. Peanut oil is a monounsaturated fat and can be used to reduce the negative health effects of eating trans fat and saturated fat. Allergy warning to persons with a nut allergy. Peanut oil is rarely hydrogenated and has a long shelf-life (up to one year sealed and unopened, four - six months opened). Peanut oil should be refrigerated when stored.

SAFETY TIP: Load the popcorn machine with corn first and oil second. This is the safest way to load the kettle in preparation for popping the corn. If oil is dispensed into a hot kettle, there risk is a fire outbreak due to oil hitting a hot surface.

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