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Don’t pop corn in a brown paper bag

Ever wondered whether you can make popcorn in a paper bag in the microwave?

In short, the answer to your question is this: Experts don’t recommend it, but magazines and websites reference it plenty.

In the past several months or so, I’ve seen mentions of the method in magazines. The most recent was in the September issue of Everyday Food magazine. And, of course, you can find just about anything online.

But the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service says never use brown paper bags in the microwave.

Kathy Bernard, technical information specialist for the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline, says it’s because they “don’t know what (the bags) are made of, what can cook out of them and many are made from recycling.”

The Popcorn Board supports the USDA stance. The board suggests that folks use a pan with a lid on the stovetop.

Other items not to use in the microwave, according to the USDA, are thin plastic storage bags, grocery bags, newspaper and aluminum foil.

Popcorn is a great source of whole grain, because it is an entire kernel that contains the brain, germ and endosperm.

When not doused with butter or cooked in oil, air popped popcorn has about 31 calories per cup, the Popcorn Board says. If you pop it in oil, it’s 55 calories per cup. And if you really can’t go without butter, lightly buttered popcorn has about 133 calories per cup.

Being able to control the popcorn seasoning is a huge benefit to making your own popcorn safely.

Here are a few suggestions for seasoning 3 cups of plain popped popcorn:

e_SBlt Sprinkle with desired amount of nutritional yeast (found at health food stores) for a nutty and cheesy flavor.

e_SBlt Southwest: Mix together 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon brown sugar.

e_SBlt Cheesy Garlic (from Everyday Food): Mix 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan, ¼ teaspoon each of coarse salt, dried thyme and garlic powder.

e_SBlt Savory Rosemary: Mix 1 tablespoon melted butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons finely crushed fresh or dried rosemary. Place 4 quarts popcorn in a large bowl and pour butter over it. Sprinkle with ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and 1 teaspoon garlic salt or sea salt. Toss again.

— SUSAN M. SELASKY, Detroit Free Press

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Popcorn is one of America’s great snack foods. Delicious, aromatic and noisy, it is the perfect nosh for popping into the mouth, mindlessly, while watching Hollywood fluff, sporting events and clowns. “Popcorn,” writes food historian Betty Fussell in her book, “The Story of Corn,” “is a truly indigenous fast finger-food that links all ages, places, races, classes and kinds in …

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