How to Keep Gourmet Popcorn Fresh
Whether sweet, savory or a combination of flavors, there's nothing better than a tin full of gourmet popcorn. The average American eats nearly 45 quarts of this crunchy snack each year — that's a lot of popcorn!
It's clear that popcorn is a favorite for many, but with so many quarts consumed per year, there are bound to be times when you find it challenging to finish a tin in one sitting. Thankfully, you can do a few things to help your gourmet popcorn stay fresh for as long as possible.
How Long Will Popped Popcorn Stay Fresh?
If your popcorn comes already sealed in a tin or bag, it will last several weeks or even months or until you open it. Once opened, popped gourmet popcorn can last anywhere from a few days to a week or more, depending on the following factors:
- When you purchased the popcorn: If you bought your gourmet popcorn a day or two ago, it will stay fresh longer than a batch that is several days or a week old. When you purchase or receive gourmet popcorn as a gift, make sure you take action to store it properly if you cannot finish it all.
- How old the popcorn was when purchased: When choosing gourmet popcorn, try to buy from a business that produces snacks in small batches and takes care to offer a fresh, quality product.
- How you store it at home: The most important part of prolonging popcorn freshness is being mindful of how you store it. Correctly stored gourmet popcorn will last much longer than popcorn you have left in an open tin or bowl on the counter.
Tips for Helping Popcorn Stay Fresh Longer
Don't let leftover gourmet popcorn go to waste. By storing your popcorn correctly, you can enjoy this tasty treat over and over again. Here are a few helpful ways to store your snacks:
1. Store Out of Direct Sunlight
Avoid storing your gourmet popcorn in or near direct sunlight. Because popcorn comes from a type of corn, it naturally responds to conditions like light exposure and humidity. Even airtight containers can get too warm inside if left in the sun, and that warmth may interfere with your popcorn storage.
Plus, many gourmet toppings — including chocolate and caramel drizzles — can melt quickly in the sun, which might cause your popcorn to stick together inside the container.
2. Let the Popcorn Reach Room Temperature
The ideal moisture level for a piece of popcorn is about 14%, which is the amount a kernel needs to pop successfully. If you're munching away on a fresh tin of warm kettle corn, always let it come to room temperature before storing it in a container. Otherwise, the container will trap the warm popcorn with its own steam, and the excess moisture will cause it to lose freshness and become stale faster.
If you want your fresh gourmet popcorn to cool faster before storage, spread it in an even layer on a baking sheet and set it in a cool, dark place until it's ready. Just be sure to avoid the refrigerator.
3. Use an Airtight Container
The more airtight the storage container, the better. If left uncovered, popcorn will lose its natural moisture and get dry and stale. For an even tighter seal, cover the top of your container in a layer of plastic wrap before putting on the lid. After you secure the lid, place your container in your cupboard or pantry until you're ready to resume snacking.
Can You Freeze Popcorn?
While you should never store popcorn in the refrigerator, freezing your popcorn might actually help it last longer than it would in an airtight container alone.
To freeze your popcorn, follow these steps:
- Seal your popcorn in an airtight, freezer-safe container. Add a layer or two of plastic wrap between the lid and the popcorn.
- Wrap your container in a freezer-grade plastic or foil and set it on a level surface in your freezer.
- When you're ready to eat your popcorn, simply remove it from the freezer and start snacking!
Keep in mind that any toppings, such as caramel or peanut butter, will likely be frozen solid. Proceed cautiously to avoid hurting your teeth.
You should also note that, while freezing popped popcorn is a great method for prolonging freshness, you should not freeze unpopped kernels, as it could affect their ability to pop correctly. Once you remove your popped popcorn from the freezer, you want to avoid refreezing, which will diminish the quality and taste.
Best Containers for Popcorn Storage
The best way to store popped popcorn is in an airtight container — but which type is best? Popcorn tins, as well as plastic and glass storage containers with sealable lids, are the best for ensuring freshness. If you plan on freezing your leftover popcorn, look for containers marked as freezer-safe. For most containers, you can determine this by looking for a snowflake symbol on the bottom. Whichever type of vessel you choose, make sure it has a fully sealable, airtight lid.
Some containers come with a section for labels so you can name and date the items inside. If yours doesn't have one, mark the date on a piece of tape and put it on your container so you know how long it has been in the freezer or pantry when you're ready to remove it.
Popped popcorn typically has no specific expiration date and should last several days or weeks if stored correctly. However, different types of popcorn and gourmet toppings may respond differently to storage than others.
What If It's Too Late?
Does popcorn get stale even when stored in an airtight container? Eventually, yes. Even when stored correctly, gourmet popped popcorn will begin to lose its freshness after a while — but don't worry! If you waited a little too long to eat your popcorn or forgot to store it in an airtight container, there are still plenty of ways you can use it:
- Revive it: You can revive some stale popcorn in the oven. To do this, spread an even layer of popcorn on a baking sheet and bake in a 250-degree oven for five minutes. Keep in mind this method may not be suitable for all types of gourmet popcorn, especially those topped with easily meltable ingredients, like chocolate.
- Mix it with something else: If your gourmet popcorn is a little stale, you can hide some of that flavor by mixing it with other, fresher ingredients. For example, you could toss it into a batch of homemade trail mix or create bite-size popcorn balls.
- Use it as a topping: The only way to make gourmet popcorn even more delicious is to add it to ice cream! If you're not sure what to do with your leftover snack, top off a bowl of your favorite ice cream for a truly indulgent experience.
Order Gourmet Popcorn From Bedford Candies
Bedford Candies has been handmaking gourmet popcorn and other delectable treats since 1929. Enjoy classic popcorn flavors, like traditional kettle and cheddar-coated, or choose from some of our unique offerings, like dill pickle and s'mores. All of our gourmet popcorn is available in either 1-, 2- or 3.5-gallon keepsake tins.
Explore our website to learn more about Bedford Candies and find your new favorite popcorn today!