Arguably the easiest of campfire recipes, popcorn cooked over an open fire is guaranteed to keep children happy! An easy popper can be made from two sieves and a little bit of ingenuity; the great thing about making it this way is that not only can everyone gasp in anticipation as the kernels pop, but they are also less likely to burn as they are much easier to agitate than when in a pan.
2 metal sieves
A long stick (I used an old broom stick)
A 25-35mm metal hose clip (purchased from the village hardware shop)
- Remove any plastic attachments from the sieves.
- Attach the bottom sieve to the stick. To ensure your popper doesn’t fall off the handle, you can drill two holes in one end of the stick and pass the wire through the holes to attach the bottom sieve securely. Alternatively, if you are using a freshly cut green stick, cut a couple of notches in the wood to achieve the same effect.
- Put the second sieve on top of the first and wire them together through the two sets of loops to make hinges.
- Slide the hose clip up over the stick and both sieve handles and then tighten it so you can slide it up and down to keep the sieves in place while you are popping; at this stage it is useful to just attach it with a piece of wire to the handle as well, just so it doesn’t fly off into the undergrowth when you least expect it.
- Add a handful of popcorn kernels into your newly-crafted camping triumph, and close the popper by sliding the hose clip round the handle. I have also found a cable tie works well.
- Hold the popper above the embers of your fire, agitating it every few moments while avoiding any flames; it needs to heat up quickly to about 180 degrees, otherwise you will end up with scorched kernels that refuse to pop. (This is because as the kernel heats up, the moisture within turns to steam and this pressure forces the hard skin to split. The kernel essentially turns inside out and the corn starch expands and solidifies, forming the lovely puffy popcorn flesh. Heat it too slowly and the hull will just rupture quietly, without the necessary explosion of steam.)
- Once the popping has slowed right down, allow your contraption to cool for a few minutes before undoing the catch and tipping the contents into a bowl. Popcorn cooked in this way will have a lovely smokey, outdoorsy flavour so only needs dusting with a scattering of sugar and a pinch of salt if you fancy.