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Will the temperature become too high and will the popcorn burn? Can anything bad happen?

Edit: Picture tells the tale. enter image description here

On the left, 5 minutes under pressure. On the right 3,5 minutes without pressure. The pressurized popcorn was less fluffy and a bit burned (I just didn't hear them pop).

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Interesting question. Personally I would be more worried about the steam released by the popped kernels not escaping and turning the popped corn to mush. –  Sobachatina Oct 22 '12 at 15:48
    
Please explain what you mean? You could certainly use the bottom of a pressure cooker as a pan, like you would a dutch oven... But are you asking if you can do it, with the pressure cooker under pressure? –  derobert Oct 22 '12 at 15:48
    
@derobert, yes, with the cooker under pressure :-) –  BaffledCook Oct 22 '12 at 16:11
    
See also chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/6589736#6589736 and the following messages –  derobert Oct 22 '12 at 16:38
    
Not a direct answer to your question, but given that a consensus is forming that pressure cooker is not a good vessel for popping corn, I will offer you a link to 'the best' [IMHO] option for popping corn: a whirley pop –  Cos Callis Oct 22 '12 at 17:02

4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I never tried it, but I don't think it is a good idea.

The point of popcorn popping is that you cook the inside of the kernel within its hard shell until the internal pressure increases so much that it breaks the shell, releasing the starchy liquid inside as a foam. You need a pressure gradient, with higher pressure inside the kernel than on the outside. So, introducing high pressure outside the kernel is counterproductive. It will certainly result in more duds. I don't know if some kernels will be able to pop, but if yes, I expect them to take longer to pop, and create a denser foam, not light and airy popcorn. So, while I guess you could experiment with it if you don't have anything better to do, theory predicts that the experiment outcome won't be good.

Why did you want to try it at all? Popcorn doesn't take long to pop.

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Because it's taking too long to pop. Maybe I should use a higher temp on the stove instead. Maybe it's because my wife adds too much oil to the corn. –  BaffledCook Oct 22 '12 at 16:12
    
I'll do the experiment, time it and post a result. –  BaffledCook Oct 22 '12 at 16:16

A pressure cooker with the valve open apparently makes good popcorn, see here. As for with the valve closed I do not know. I wouldn't expect anything bad to happen, but I would not expect the results to be very good as the pressure would likely damage the consistency. I'd love to hear about it if you do it though!

The only thing I'd worry about is the oil, if that came out super-heated it would be dangerous. That, and this site warns about too much oil damaging your pressure cooker.

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That eHow article you link to is really just using the pressure cooker as heavy-bottomed (it also mentions using the lid from another pot) - the fact that it's a pressure cooker doesn't matter at all. I'm not really sure why you'd bother writing that article at all... but I gues it's eHow. –  Jefromi Oct 22 '12 at 15:59
    
@Jefromi, A pressure-cooker is an ideal shape, and the tight fitting lid makes it easier to shake around without it all coming out. –  GdD Oct 22 '12 at 16:03
    
Most large pots will work just fine too. (A pressure cooker isn't a terribly unique shape.) To see what I mean about eHow, just search for [site:ehow.com popcorn pot] on Google, and see how many variations of the article there are. –  Jefromi Oct 22 '12 at 16:12
    
@Jefromi, as I said the lid clamping on is very useful, you can just shake the pot instead of having to hold the lid down. –  GdD Oct 22 '12 at 16:45

A pressure cooker with the lid closed and sealed would be a VERY bad idea, even dangerous? A pressure cooker is made for water (it is sealed with some kind of rubber/silicon seals), if you where to cook with oil with it sealed the temperature would be MUCH higher than what the cooker would be made for using water. The water/steam inside a fully pressurized pressure cooker is somewhere in the 120C (250F) range. Oil boils at a much higher than that even without pressure, 175 and 190 °C (345–375 °F) so with pressure the temperature would probably be more than double that what the cooker is made for. The seals would probably melt? And you could get all sorts of 'funny' effects. Do not try this at home folks!!!!

But if you close but not seal the lid it should be OK.

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That may be so for other applications, but the amount of corn and oil is too small to really impact the pressure. I've tried this and there's no harm done. The result is as predicted by rumtscho; less fluffy. This would surely be dangerous for deep frying. –  BaffledCook Oct 23 '12 at 6:52

The reason someone might investigate popping popcorn in a pressure cooker is because of the awesome potential to pop it all at once upon releasing the pressure. If you can keep the popcorn from popping with the pressure and bring all the kernels up to a popping temperature then theoretically you could perfectly pop them all at once by releasing the pressure. But like other people have mentioned there are big risks. I looked into it more and I don't think a pressure cooker can handle a high enough pressure for it to work. The other thing making it impossible is there is no way to know when the correct temperature is reached. Lets let mythbusters handle this one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDO2vtga_XQ

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+1 for Mythbusters :-) –  BaffledCook May 19 '13 at 12:52

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