Take Your Popcorn To The Next Level With Citric Acid

A classic of the concession stand, no trip to the movies is complete without a bucket of popcorn. Indeed, that red and white-striped bag piled high with neon yellow popcorn has become an iconic symbol for a trip to the theater. Even the smell—a rich aroma of salt and butter—can call up the romantic trappings of the silver screen, from the red velvet curtains to the booming surround sound.  

Our affinity for popcorn and movies extends to our own homes, as a movie-viewing party wouldn't be complete without the big bowl of popcorn being passed among friends. In fact, granted access to their kitchen, foodies have found the freedom to transform their popcorn from standard buttery fare to a gourmet experience. Upgrades range from the simple, like tossing in a packet of ranch dressing seasoning, to the elaborate, like the eyeball sprinkled and neon blue Cookie Monster popcorn. 

No matter what your popcorn craving is, there's a recipe out there to satisfy it. But there's one ingredient you may be missing out on that'll take almost any bag of popcorn to the next level. 

Add the power of sour with citric acid

If you're really ready to take your popcorn up a notch, you need to invest in a simple but powerful ingredient: citric acid. Sold as a white powder, citric acid is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in citrus fruit, bringing the acidic tang of citrus juice without added moisture. 

It has already been the rumored secret behind several delicious things, like the sour bite of Apple Jack cereal and possibly as one of the 11 spices and herbs that make KFC's recipe so special. Citric acid even works wonders in your baked goods, adding the tangy benefits of citrus without the added moisture. So how is it pumping up the flavor on your popcorn? 

Take into consideration a recipe like the spicy citrus popcorn that uses a tantalizing blend of Calabrian chile oil and lime. This balances the heat with lime zest and citric acid. Why use citric acid instead of lime juice? The powder brings the tang without making your popcorn soggy with the juice. It's a win-win for flavor and texture. 

Consider adding a small pinch of it to popcorn mixes that could use a boost of sourness, from a salt-and-vinegar to sour cream and dill. Emphasis on a "small pinch," as citric acid can go from pleasantly tangy to mouth-puckering acidic in a heartbeat. Basically, taste as you go. The next time you host a home movie event, elevate the king of cinematic snacks with a touch of citric acid.