Microwave Popcorn
February 25, 2004 2:49 PM   Subscribe

I bought some microwave popcorn that pops fine at work (a newer microwave with a popcorn button), but at home, with popcorn from the same box, I end up with a shriveled bag. The microwave at home isn't so new as to have a popcorn button, but it's not totally ancient either. I'm guessing there's some trick to it that involves NOT following the instructions provided on the bag, but I have no idea what they might be. Any ideas?
posted by hootch to Food & Drink (7 answers total)
Best answer: Your home microwave probably has a worn magnetron. Basically, it won't be outputting as much "juice" as the one at work. Also, most commercial microwaves are much stronger than a residential microwave, mostly because they put in top notch components so they can work for a lot longer.

Sorry, you can't do much about that, unless you want to buy an expensive commercial RadarRange. :-)
posted by shepd at 3:26 PM on February 25, 2004

Do you put the bag on an inverted glass pie pan?
posted by konolia at 4:13 PM on February 25, 2004

I have a 1200W microwave, 1 year old, you can have it for whatever it costs you to ship from Philly. See here.
posted by luser at 4:35 PM on February 25, 2004

I freakin HATE the smell of microwave popcorn at work! And I'm not alone. Buy a new microwave for your home and stop subjecting your coworkers to that vile shite!

Um, pretty please?

[I found this interesting article while looking for the link above which concerns higher lung disease rates of factory workers at microwave popcorn plants who are around the buttery odor. I had NO CLUE about this when I posted the above, but it makes me hate the workplace microwave popcorn smell more now.]
posted by terrapin at 5:59 PM on February 25, 2004

Sure terrapin, I'll do that the moment people stop eating indian food in my workplace.

Heheheh... You give a little, you take a little.
posted by shepd at 2:22 AM on February 26, 2004

Most brands of microwave popcorn give off fumes I find nasty. Not all, but most. Maybe this problem pointed out by terrapin is why.

Microwave popcorn is terribly 3rd rate. Just pop some high-quality corn in safflower oil, sprinkle with Lawrey's Season Salt and enjoy. No butter, plenty taste, no nasty fumes.
posted by Goofyy at 2:46 AM on February 26, 2004

As a microwave popcorn junkie (hmph to all you naysayers), I have found two things to be true about properly cooked microwave popcorn: It takes a lot less long to cook than you think it does, and you will have to ruin a few bags before you find the magic number for your various microwaves.

You seem to already have the popping time down for work, but I will share for any others reading this thread that your work machine will probably take care of that bag in no more than 2.5 minutes, and please, for the love of god, don't leave the microwave unattended because you have to pull out the bag as soon as the popping slows down or I can't help what you're coworkers, crazed by the stench of burned popcorn, might do to you.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I'd put popcorn in your microwave at home for four minutes and WATCH IT carefully and as soon as the popping starts to slow down, note the time and take it out. If you burn the popcorn, well, that's a small price to pay for a little knowledge that will go a long way. Next time cut the time by 30 seconds and try again. Oh and if your microwave is old enough to have one of those plastic turntables (a "Micro-go-round, mine is called, a supplemental item before a rotating base was standard), take that out first.

I have also found that major brand butter flavored microwave popcorn can take the heat of accidental excess cooking time with a lot less damage than my preferred brand, which is the no butter no oil kind and will burn to little lumps of charcoal if you mistime the microwave setting by seconds.
posted by jennyb at 9:34 AM on February 26, 2004

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