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How to Keep Popcorn Fresh

Updated April 17, 2017

Popcorn can be a delicious and healthy snack. Unfortunately, popcorn tends to become stale relatively quickly, which can ruin its taste. Kernels that have gone bad will pop unevenly, if at all. Popped popcorn that sits out too long, sometimes for as little as a few hours, will be soft and stale instead of crisp and tasty. Enjoy your popcorn to the fullest by keeping it fresh as long as possible.

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  1. Buy popcorn kernels as fresh as possible. Look at the freshness dates on the package and choose a package with an expiration date furthest into the future.

  2. Purchase kernels in glass or plastic containers, if available, at your grocery store. Bagged popcorn is more likely to have been damaged in the transit process and is less airtight in general.

  3. Open the popcorn only when it will be immediately popped. Exposure to air will quicken the spoiling process for any food.

  4. Fill an airtight container or sealable bag with any kernels left in the bag after opening.

  5. Store your popcorn in a cool, dark area that is free from excess heat and moisture.

  6. Freeze popcorn you plan to store for a long time in a sealable bag with all of the air pushed out. This will keep the popcorn fresh for a year or longer. When you are ready to pop the popcorn, pour out only what you will need and let it thaw, refreezing the rest for later use.

  7. Pop the popcorn just before it will be served and eaten. Popped popcorn becomes stale quickly.

  8. Sprinkle or pour any toppings you plan on using, such as butter or salt, on the popcorn just before it will be eaten. The moisture in melted butter will quickly turn popcorn soggy, while salt will draw moisture from the kernels.

  9. Store your popped popcorn in a glass or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Keep it in a dark, dry place away from any moisture--moisture and air are the surest ways to end up with stale or soggy popcorn. Popcorn that has been purchased already popped, such as a bag of popcorn from a popcorn shop, can also be stored in this manner.

  10. Enjoy coated popcorn, such as popcorn balls, for a longer period of time. The coating keeps the kernel inside fresher and compensates for a kernel that is less crisp. Coated popcorn should be stored in the same manner as uncoated popped popcorn.

  11. Tip

    Refrigerating popcorn will cause it to dry out and make it hard to pop. Throw out any popcorn that is off in colour, has an odd taste or is noticeably mouldy.

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Things You'll Need

  • Popcorn
  • Airtight container

About the Author

A graduate student in Boston, MA, Michael Kay has been a professional writer for over five years. After working in political communications, he began working as a copywriter for a national advertising agency based in Chicago. His work can be found in college textbooks, corporate marketing materials and across the Web. He has a Bachelor of Arts in magazine feature writing from Ball State University.

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