I was in the mood for a crunchy snack this weekend so I tried something that I've always loved but have never made myself - caramel corn! I used to think that making caramel corn would be difficult and require fancy equipment (like a popcorn popper and a candy thermometer) but it was easy to do right on my stove top. Many caramel corn recipes call for butter, but I eliminated it to keep the coating crunchy and to make this a food storage-friendly snack. All of these ingredients are extremely shelf-stable, so stock a #10 can of popcorn kernels and an extra bag of sugar in your pantry and you can have this treat anytime you'd like. [caption id="attachment_2210" align="alignright" width="224"] Caramel Popcorn[/caption]



1/2 cup popcorn kernels

2T vegetable oil

Caramel coating:

1/3 cup water

2 cups white sugar

2T corn syrup


Pour oil into the bottom of a large, wide pot. The oil should lightly cover the entire bottom. Add the popcorn kernels and stir until they are evenly coated in oil. Spread them out into a single layer and place the pot over medium heat. Cover the pot -- this is important! Shake the pot continuously to evenly distribute the heat. After the kernels start to pop, turn the heat down to medium-low and continue to shake the pot until the popping sound stops.  Set the popcorn aside while you prepare your caramel mixture.

In another large pot, combine water, white sugar, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil without stirring or disturbing the pot. Reduce heat to medium and let it continue to bubble until it reaches a deep caramel color. It may begin to smoke, this is normal. Remove from heat and add your prepared popcorn, stir well to evenly coat every piece. Spread out on a lightly greased baking sheet to cool and dry. Yield: 4-6 servings.

[caption id="attachment_2211" align="aligncenter" width="224"] popping the corn[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2212" align="aligncenter" width="300"] making the caramel[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2213" align="aligncenter" width="300"] popped corn[/caption]

Tips and notes:

Do not stir the caramel with a plastic spoon, no matter how durable you think it is -- I learned this the hard way!

Your pot will be covered with sticky caramel after you finish the above directions. Fill it with water and gently simmer over medium heat to dissolve the sugar and save yourself some scrubbing.

My popcorn was VERY crunchy because I left the sugar mixture on the stove a few moments too long.  It darkens very suddenly, so keep an eye on it!

contributed by Kate Wilt