Stella’s PopKern

stellaspopkerntruckLast week I went to the Farmers Market in Bethesda to see Stella’s PopKern. Not only did I get to taste some amazing popcorn flavors, but I got to meet and talk to the owner, Kristina Kern. There were quite a few flavors available on the day I was there. And, it’s because a lot of their flavors are created on the spot. With a little olive oil and the addition of a few spices the flavors are made to order, with the exception of the caramel popcorn, which was made that morning.

stellaspopkernmenuThe popcorn flavors are highlighted on a menu located next to the order window. The flavors I tasted were Clarifed Butter with Brazilian Sea Salt, Salted Caramel, Zesty White Cheddar with Old Bay, Black Truffle with Brazilian Sea Salt, Mitmita with Ginger Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate Drizzled Salted Caramel, and Bourbon Cayenne Spiked Bacon Salted Caramel. You can even create your own flavors by mixing them. We combined the Mitmita and Salted Caramel to create a sweet-hot combination.

I enjoyed tasting all of the popcorn flavors they had to offer. A few of my favorites were the Salted Caramel (it had a great buttery flavor) and the Zesty White Cheddar with Old Bay (an interesting combination of flavors that worked very well together – even I was surprised).

If you live or work in DC then you need to visit Stella’s PopKern. They have a Grand Store Opening in just a few weeks. Be sure to visit their website for more information at www.stellaspopkern.com

Thanks and Keep on Poppin’

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Joe & Seph’s ~ Marmite Popcorn and More

Joe & Seph’s recently sent me a box of goodies that included the following popcorn flavors: Marmite, Coconut & Chia Seed, Orange Chocolate, and Caramel & Sweet Chili.

popcorn_marmiteI couldn’t wait to try the Marmite Popcorn so I quickly opened up the bag, took a few pieces, and began crunching. Yuk, I soon realized that I don’t like the taste of Marmite. But, love it or hate it, you simply have to try it! I did get a few of my co-workers to try this flavor and most of them liked it. Go figure.

My tongue was craving a totally different flavor experience so I quickly opened up the Orange Chocolate popcorn and began munching. The opening flavor was a mild and flavorful chocolate, but as you’re chewing the flavor quickly transfers to orange. I tried the Coconut & Chia Seed flavor next. It was caramel-based and had a strong coconut flavor, but the taste from the addition of chia seeds was subtle. However, the combination of flavors worked well together. The last flavor I tried was the Caramel & Sweet Chili. It was awesome — two distinct sweet flavors in one bite. The sweetness from the caramel hits your tongue first and is followed by a mild sweet chili flavor.

Although I didn’t like the taste of Marmite Popcorn, the other flavors were delicious. I applaud Joe & Seph’s for creating popcorn flavors that consistently go above and beyond what other popcorn chefs are doing. Finding the best ingredients and pairing them with popcorn is a challenge, but Joe & Seph’s continues to break the mold when creating new popcorn flavors.

Thanks Again and Keep on Poppin’

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Silver Fern Brand – Pai Popcorn

paipopcornPai Popcorn makes four different popcorn flavors: Crunchy Caramel Corn, Sweet Cheddar Jalapeno, Sweet Kettle Corn, and Movie Theater Popcorn. Silver Fern Brand sent me two bags of each flavor.

I began my tasting with the Movie Theater flavor. It had a nice salty flavor and the popcorn was fresh and crunchy. The next flavor I tasted was the Crunchy Caramel Corn. The caramel coating was very light and the popcorn itself was a little chewy. The caramel flavoring was also not very good. The second bag of the same flavor yielded the same results. I just didn’t like this flavor. The Sweet Kettle Corn flavor was next. It was lightly sweet and had just the right amount of salt to enhance the sweet flavor. The Sweet Cheddar Jalapeno flavor was very similar to the Kettle Corn flavor in texture and sweetness, with the addition of a mild spicy cheddar flavor.

There is no real sugar or butter used in making these popcorn flavors. Kakato™, a natural sweetener and nutrient dense algae (with the flavor and taste of real butter) are two of the ingredients used. This is probably the reason why I didn’t like the Crunchy Caramel Corn flavor.

Thanks and Keep on Poppin’

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Farmers Best Popcorn

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If you like popping your own popcorn on the stove top then you’ll love Farmers Best Premium White Popcorn.

The family run business of Tom and Diane Decker, located in Rockwell City, Iowa, sent me a box that contained a three pound bag of their premium white popcorn along with a few bags of their microwave popcorn ~ Butter and Butter Light. I took some of the microwave popcorn to work one day and popped up a mid-morning snack. I set the microwave on three minutes and waited. The popcorn continued to pop well into the final seconds, but when I opened up the bag the center was toast. I guess the microwave at work is really powerful. I still ate most of the popcorn that was around the smokey center of the bag and really liked it. The butter flavor was really good, but the light flavor had very little butter flavor. The popcorn nearly disintegrates in your mouth when chewing and there is very little hull. I’m really not a big fan of microwave popcorn, but it’s always convenient. And, Farmers Best has a great product. Just don’t set your microwave on three minutes or use the Popcorn button. That’s a big mistake.

I usually pop my popcorn on the stove top in a big pot that I’ve been using for years. I coat the bottom of the pan with the oil of my liking, usually vegetable oil or coconut oil, and heat up the pan a little bit without putting any kernels in. About thirty seconds later I add enough kernels to coat the entire bottom of the pot that I’m using. Then, I add a little salt place the heat on high and put the lid on a bit sideways to let the steam out. About two minutes later I have a big pot of freshly popped popcorn. I used the technique above with Farmers Best Premium White Popcorn and it worked perfectly. Just about every kernel popped and it was delicious.

I highly recommend Farmers Best.

Thanks and Keep on Poppin’

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Doc Popcorn: Cocoa Marshmallow Crunch

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Doc Popcorn specializes in kettle-cooked flavored popcorn. They sent me a small tin of their newest flavor, Cocoa Marshmallow Crunch. As you can see in the picture above some of the popcorn is dark and coated with cocoa while the lighter pieces were marshmallow flavored. And, there were some pieces that had both flavors, probably from mixing them together. The cocoa flavor, however, was very subtle and the marshmallow flavor was prominent. The texture was similar to kettle corn and it had a nice sweet crunch. I really liked the combination of flavors, but would have preferred a stronger cocoa flavor.

Thanks and Keep on Poppin’

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Wayne’s Popcorn

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Wayne’s Popcorn makes five different gourmet popcorn flavors ~ Simply Salted, Sugar Rush, Cheesy Boom, Jalapeno Zest, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Bam.

I began my tasting with the Simply Salted. It had a decent amount of salt and tasted pretty good, but the popcorn itself was a little chewy. The Sugar Rush flavor was next and it had a very nice sugary sweet flavor. Each piece of popcorn was evenly coated with a fine powdered sugar. The Cheesy Boom flavor was next. I expected to taste cheese, but this flavor didn’t have any cheesy ingredients. The flavor came from the addition of nutritional yeast. I liked it, but I wanted to taste cheese. The Jalapeno Zest flavor was up next and it was really good. The jalapeno spices were mild and the heat stayed on my tongue for about a minute. The Chocolate Peanut Butter Bam was the last flavor I tried. I’m glad I saved it for last because it turned out to be my favorite flavor. Every piece had a fine coating of powdered cocoa and peanut butter — a great combination of flavors — I was eating it by the handful.

I enjoyed tasting all the flavors from Wayne’s, especially the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bam. If you want to give Wayne’s popcorn a try click here.

Thanks and Keep on Poppin’

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Dolle’s vs. Fisher’s

If you happen to be on the boardwalk in Ocean City, MD then you’re lucky to have a couple of options for caramel popcorn. Fisher’s has always been my choice and I’ve been buying it for many years. But Dolle’s is another option that needs to be considered. This past Memorial Day weekend I was lucky to get both and I did a side-by-side comparison.

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Pictured above on the left is Fisher’s and on the right is Dolle’s. As you can clearly see Dolle’s is much darker. Fisher’s popcorn uses only light brown sugar and Dolle’s is made using a combination of white sugar and dark brown sugar, which gives it a darker color. I was really surprised when I tasted Dolle’s caramel popcorn. It actually tasted a little better than Fisher’s. And, all this time I’ve been buying Fisher’s when I visit Ocean City. Fisher’s is lighter tasting and has less caramel coating, where Dolle’s is thicker and has a stronger caramel flavor. I do think they could both benefit by adding a bit more salt.

If you happen to visit Ocean City, MD this year be sure to give Dolle’s caramel popcorn a try. You just might like it better than Fisher’s, like I did.

Thanks and Keep on Poppin’

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