Making popcorn at home can be a great way to enjoy a delicious and comparatively healthy snack. It's also massively versatile and can become savory or sweet depending on the toppings you choose. No movie night would be complete without it. But making popcorn at home isn't without its difficulties. Practice makes perfect, and before you have your technique down, you may end up with a few burnt pans that need cleaning. Cleaning your stainless steel popcorn pan or machine can be surprisingly tricky — so here's what you need to know.
Removing Burnt Popcorn From Pots
The first step of cleaning any burnt popcorn vessel is removing the burnt popcorn pieces from the pot. It can be tempting to go in with a metal scraper, but this can damage the stainless steel and render it unusable for your future popcorn ventures. It's far better to go slower with something less abrasive, like a wooden spoon. Gently chip off any of the larger burned popcorn pieces, then tip them out of the pan. It's worth noting that, as Mashed explains, if you're constantly dealing with burnt-on popcorn, you're likely cooking on too high of a heat. Using an adequate amount of oil can also help minimize burning.
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If you're using a dedicated popcorn maker, maintenance is also key to avoiding popcorn burning your stainless steel. Wabash Valley Farms claims they should be wiped out with a paper towel after every use and should be more thoroughly washed every four to five uses. Keeping your popcorn machine maintained should help reduce the buildup of debris, which can help minimize burn marks over time.
Cleaning Burnt Popcorn With Vinegar
When cleaning a pan or a popcorn maker, you want to ensure you're using food-safe products. Many fear that using harsh chemicals on food preparation items could result in them being ingested, which could be quite dangerous. Luckily, there are several food-safe methods to help remove burnt popcorn from a pot.
The Kitchn recommends boiling segments of lemon in the burnt pot. The acidity of the fruits can help loosen any burnt food particles and lift the mark. You can also scrub the pot with a balled-up piece of aluminum foil, which will effectively remove burned popcorn without causing damage to the pan.
If your burn mark is even more intense, you may need to bring in the big guns. Using white vinegar and baking soda can help remove burn marks, as the two products have a chemical reaction that fizzes up and "scrubs" the pan clean. Heat up a cup of vinegar in your pan, then remove from the heat and add a tablespoon of baking soda. Allow the mixture to work on your pan for at least an hour, then clean with a nonabrasive nylon scrubber.
Whirley Pop Cleaning With Soap
According to Whirley Pop instructions, standard dish soap is safe to use on their stainless steel components. Corn Popper claims soaking the components in warm, soapy water will remove all burn marks and help with your machine maintenance. Whirley Pop cleaning is particularly easy because the relevant parts slide right out of the machine.
If you've tried regular dish soap and are still struggling with burn marks, you can use a dishwasher tablet to remove burnt popcorn marks from stainless steel. Use the tablet to gently scrub the stain, then dampen and leave to work overnight. Rinse thoroughly the next morning.