Here is the method for homemade cheese popcorn that is much like the product sold at popcorn shops or comes in bags as snack food. The recipe takes about five minutes to make.
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
4-6 tablespoons powdered process cheese, see note below
DHeat the oil in a large kettle. When it is hot, but not smoking, add several kernels of popcorn. When the first kernel pops or spins around the pan, add the remaining kernels. Cover the pan loosely. Shaking the pan constantly, cook over medium-high heat until all the kernels have popped.
Transfer the popped corn to a large bowl and toss with four tablespoons cheese powder; add more to taste if desired.
Note: Powdered process cheese can be used from packages of macaroni-and-cheese mix or from powdered cheese sauce packets. It can also be bought at bulk food stores in a variety of flavors.
Makes 16 cups.
The Popcorn Institute offers several recipes for cheese popcorn that do, in fact, use fresh, shredded cheese. Here's their method if you'd like to try it:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread hot popped popcorn on a buttered jelly roll pan. For each quart of popcorn, add one-third cup grated cheese. Bake for five minutes, then toss the popcorn and serve immediately.
You also can use very finely shredded cheese and toss it into hot buttered popcorn. For best results, the cheese should be grated with the finest holes of a grater. Additional seasonings can be added as desired. Ground cumin, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and onion powder are several possibilities.
It also should be noted that several varieties of cheese-flavored microwave popcorn are available.
(For all those frustrated at all the unpopped kernels -- old maids -- that collect in the bottom of the pan, the Popcorn Institute offers another bit of information that is worth passing on: They can be rejuvenated. The reason they don't pop in the first place is that there isn't enough moisture inside the kernel. (The kernels pop when heat causes the water to expand so much that the kernel explodes.) Collect your old maids and put them in a jar -- about three cups in a four-cup jar. Add a tablespoon of water, cover the jar and shake it every few minutes until the water is absorbed. Set the jar aside in a cool place for a few days; then try popping it again.)