Take your popcorn to a new place by flavoring it with the classic combination of salt and vinegar. Beloved by potato chip aficionados and fans of boardwalk French fries, this zippy concoction tastes fattening without all the fat and calories. Using different types of vinegar or opting for a variation from the basic recipe allows you to quickly and easily customize your snack to suit your tastes.
Choosing the Vinegar
While you can use any type of vinegar that you like or have on hand, be aware that the type of vinegar you use to flavor your popcorn determines the flavor of your snack because each type of vinegar has its own flavor profile. For example, malt vinegar, which is commonly used for fish and chips, adds a mellow tang, while balsamic vinegar adds a slightly sweet, complex flavor. Red wine vinegar and distilled white vinegar both have sharp, strong flavor, while apple cider and rice vinegars are typically mellower, with a fruity or fresh finish.
Choosing the Salt
You can keep your popcorn as simple as you want it by using regular table salt. Or, add gourmet flair by finishing the salt and vinegar popcorn with specialty salts, which can have nuanced flavors and different textures, depending on the coarseness of the grind. Finishing salts such as flaked salt or French sea salt dissolve quickly and give a mild, clean flavor to the popcorn, while Hawaiian red or black salt adds colorful speckles. Flavored or infused salts are a quick, easy way to add extra flavor to the popcorn.
Applying the Flavor
If you’re using powdered vinegar, which is available in some gourmet shops and online stores, simply mix it with your salt and toss it with the popcorn. Otherwise, slowly drizzle the vinegar in an even stream before tossing the popcorn with the salt and stirring it to make sure all the kernels are coated.
One of the easiest — and nearly foolproof methods — for flavoring popcorn with a liquid substance without making it soggy is to spray it onto the popcorn. Simply add the vinegar to a clean spray bottle and spray the popcorn lightly before adding salt and stirring.
Add complexity to the salt and vinegar popcorn by adding other ingredients to the mix. Melt some butter in a saucepan or in a microwave-proof bowl along with the vinegar. Heat it until the butter melts; then whisk the mixture. Drizzle the mixture in an even, light stream over the popcorn before sprinkling it with salt and tossing the mixture to coat all the popcorn.
Alternatively, make a sweet, salty and tangy popcorn by stirring a tablespoon of brown sugar into the butter and vinegar mixture. Stir it until the sugar dissolves before drizzling over the popcorn. Alternatively, add some red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to bring a little heat.
References and ResourcesParty Popcorn: 75 Creative Recipes for Everyone's Favorite Snack; Ashton Epps Swank
Rachael Ray Show: Salt and Vinegar Popcorn
The Balanced Brunette: Sea Salt and Vinegar Hot Air Popcorn
The Huffington Post: A Guide to Where Your Vinegar Comes From, And How To Use It