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One small child and one on the way means that we haven’t seen the inside of a picture house for nearly 3 years! Someone even told me that they aren’t even called picture houses anymore… cinema is the new buzz word apparently.
To recreate that big screen effect we sometimes watch a film on TV, sat really close to the screen, lights out, son stood to the side with tray of cornettos… and POPCORN! To be honest, a big bucket of salted, buttered popcorn was always a big part of going to the pictures (as well as a contributory factor to my waistline).
Over the last few years we have usually had a bag of popcorn kernels in the cupboard, but it is always a faff to make and somehow creates a lot of mess when made by her ladyship. A couple of weeks ago, while dragging my heels round the supermarket I spotted boxes of Popz microwave popcorn in amongst the nuts and crisps.
Each box contains three 100g bags of popcorn and there are four flavours to choose from: salted, butter, sweet and banana toffee. Each box costs £1.79, quite reasonable compared to the cost at the pictures, quite dear compared to a bag of kernels. With the deftest slight of hand a box of buttered found itself hidden behind the cornflakes.
Each bag is wrapped in plastic for freshness and will keep for months. Get rid of the plastic, stick bag in microwave for 2-4 minutes, job done. Or so the instructions (in 94 ½ different languages) would have you believe. In reality it’s slightly different…
The bag is folded into 3 sections, with the buttery kernels in the central section and the outer portions folded over. We are told to unfold the bag and place it in the centre of the microwave, making sure we follow the instruction as to which way up it should go. Set the timer, following the timing guidelines for different microwave wattages, get the cuppa made and then collect…
Take 1: Burnt popcorn. Damn. Bin it, open window to release foul smell, get bag 2 and decrease time. Also notice big red warning on the box about not leaving the microwave unattended during cooking.
Take 2: Burnt popcorn. Bleeding hell! Realise that timing was not the problem. See, the bag expands to the size of West Yorkshire as the kernels pop and it jams against the inside of the microwave. I’ve got a degree and I can’t make microwave popcorn!
Take 3: minor success. I had to keep opening the microwave to make sure the bag was perfectly central and able to move… consequently the temperature within rarely exceeded that of a mild summers day in Filey and as a result I was left with a couple of handfuls of popcorn and enough sticky kernels to pebble-dash a small semi.
D’oh! No bags left. As it turned out, £1.79 was pretty dear at approximately 60p per pop. But I’m not one to be defeated by a plant based product. Determined I bought another box the following week. Determined is not what my wife called me.
Three more bags down and I’ve got this game sussed. For our 650W microwave about 2mins 30-40secs is spot on. You can tell if it’s about done… the popping slows down to a couple of seconds or so between pops. Just make sure the bag keeps turning as this greatly reduces the chance of burning.
Bring on the next batch!
Warning… if cooked properly, the bag is hot. Not surprising… it’s been in a microwave OVEN. But to empty the bag you have to pull at two labelled corners and WHOOSH… out blasts a solar flare. Check box… ah yes, red warning again. Warning labels and I have never been on the best of terms.
Slightly overdone… you can pick out a few good pieces, but a pain.
Spot on… delicious! Just as it should be and with a really nice, even buttery taste. Quite a surprise for a microwave product… I usually find that they’re pretty crap. My wife feels that a touch of salt is needed for perfection, but then she is 8 ½ months pregnant, so a steamed plimsoll with coleslaw would probably not offend. Myself, I think there is enough salt included already… enough to taste, not enough to dry your mouth and shrink your lips.
Big bonus points are scored for the tidiness of the whole business. Tip popcorn out into bowl, run fingers under cold water for 10 minutes to reduce risk of blistering, throw bag away and hey presto… get troughing.
***Not for me***
For those watching their weight… no! 30% fat and over 50% carbohydrate.
Would I buy this again… a fixture on the weekly shopping list already, now I’ve mastered the fine art of its production.
Would I recommend it to others? If you don’t mind wasting quite a lot getting it right, then yes. Otherwise, go to the pictures!