As we near Halloween, there are visions of sweets and treats looming ahead with one in particular to keep your eye out for: traditional kettle corn. At every football game, fairground and Halloween Festival there are sounds of crackle and pop, and aromas that are almost sickening sweet in the air. If you follow your ears and your nose, they will lead you straight to the kettle corn vendors.
Across the country, these craftsmen of their trade have learned the time-honored traditional secrets that have drawn crowds in from generation to generation. The kettle corn next to the lemonade stand is one of the most popular stands at any event.
A quick search on the Internet led me to Blazin J’s Kettle Corn. After a tough year like so many of us have faced, Jesse Jimenez ventured out to open his very own business with none other than his concession-stand favorite: the sweet and salty treat of the kettle corn.
Kettle corn is made from hybridized mushroom corn that puffs into a perfect ball of fluffed corn when heated to the proper temperature of 350 degrees. The shape and texture feel differ from that of regular popcorn. Regular popcorn has a slight crunch followed by an airy fluff whereas the mushroom corn is light, airy and slightly chewy.
Though making Kettle Corn is not rocket science, its perfect consistency is based upon a series of steps that are, in a way, science. With a large kettle, the temperature of the oil needs to reach 350 degrees Fahrenheit, despite the external temperature of the air. In a matter of seconds, kernels of corn are added to the kettle oil (corn, soy, peanut) and stirred to coat each kernel with the properly-tempered oil.
At the vendors discretion, sugar will be added to the kettle of corn, aware that if not done at the right moment, the sugar could dissolve or not bond with the corn. Ultimately, if not done correctly, this can change the outcome of the finished product.
In a matter of a few minutes, the corn is popped and almost ready to go. Final seasonings, a light coat of salt and a quick movement through the sifting bin leaves the sweet and savory kettle corn ready to be sold to its endless line of customers.
As we near Halloween and are trying to recreate this magical treat, know that the mushroom kernel, the perfect temperature of the oil and a professional kettle are the secrets to success. Which is why Jesse has made a career out of his concession-stand favorite. The secrets to this success are almost impossible to recreate in a home environment and gives any event its uniqueness. Though air-popped popcorn (regular popcorn) can be seasoned with salt, sugar and various other seasonings to simulate the flavor and feeling of kettle corn, it won’t be the same.
As you’re loading up and getting ready for Halloween parties this coming weekend, make sure to search out vendors like Jesse Jimenez from Blazin J’s Kettle Corn for this perfectly-popped corn to add a certain element of seasonal celebration. With its sweet and salty taste, it will blend in perfectly with the homemade stews, chili and candy bars on this evening of tricks and treats.
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