When you think of American food, you probably think of things like hotdogs, hamburgers, Mac ‘n’ Cheese etc. Whilst the modern versions are American, those items actually have their roots elsewhere (both in Germany, in fact). This is also true for many other American foods. However, one truly American food is caramel corn.
Its origins can be traced back to sugar-coated popcorn being mentioned in periodicals in the United States as far back as the early 19th century. Additionally, some food historians consider caramel corn, or more specifically Cracker Jack, to be the first ‘junk’ food!
As caramel corn is so tasty, it’s no surprise that it may be considered junk food. It’s just too good to be true otherwise.
You’ll doubtless be familiar with the giant tubs and bags of caramel corn. If you’re like me, you might even be looking at one right now!
Perhaps you’re wondering what to do if you happen to have tons of leftover caramel corn in one of these large containers. Can you freeze caramel corn? The good news is that yes, you can store it in the freezer to keep it fresher, longer!
Read on as I outline the pros and cons of freezing caramel corn. I’ll explain the best way to do it, as well as tell you how to defrost and use frozen caramel corn.
Can Caramel Corn be Frozen?
Yes, caramel corn can certainly be frozen. Though here’s a fun fact – since caramel corn is so dry it doesn’t truly ‘freeze’! Instead, it just stays fresh for longer, ready to snack on anytime that you’d like.
Caramel corn freezes very well and it’s super easy to do. While there are a few things to do when preparing it, it’s a simple and straightforward process.
So, there’s no need to worry about caramel corn going stale anymore. You can buy it in bulk with little worry about it going stale since you can easily store it in the freezer.
While you may be most familiar with the store-bought kind of caramel corn since it can be pretty messy (and stick!) to make, you can easily freeze homemade caramel corn too with the same method.
Pros and Cons of Freezing Caramel Corn
Before you decide to freeze your caramel corn, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of doing so. Here’s a quick breakdown of the key pros and cons:
The Pros to Freezing Caramel Corn
- You can always have a quick, easy, and portable snack solution whenever the time arises.
- There are no special items or extra steps that you need to take when you freeze caramel corn.
- It’s super easy to freeze and requires little additional work, just put it in a container and throw it in the freezer.
- Caramel corn can last a long time when it’s been frozen, compared to when it’s not.
- Freezing caramel corn will keep it from becoming stale.
The Cons to Freezing Caramel Corn
- You may have to “freshen up” your caramel corn if it becomes a little soft.
- You may notice the caramel corn getting slightly less crunchy after being stored in the freezer.
- While it may be easy to freeze caramel corn and the steps are easy, there still are specific steps that you should follow for the best results.
- If you don’t follow the suggested method for storing your caramel corn you may be disappointed with the results.
These pros and cons aren’t meant to scare you away from freezing your caramel corn, far from it!
It’s always best to have as much information as possible before you store any food in the freezer. That’s so you know what to expect regarding the quality of the food after it’s been frozen, how long it will last, and how to properly store it in the freezer.
How Long Does Caramel Corn Last in the Freezer?
So, if you bought one of those large plastic bags or aluminum canisters of caramel corn, or perhaps you made a large batch at home, if you store it at room temperature it will only last about two weeks. And that’s if it’s been kept airtight. It can be particularly troubling when you buy one of the aluminum canisters and you find out that only after a few days the tasty treat begins getting stale. This is because it’s not airtight. While it may be convenient, it’s far from the best way to keep it fresh longer.
Even the plastic bags of caramel corn when sealed tightly, still will leave you with stale caramel corn eventually. That’s why you should store it in the freezer.
When you store it in the freezer in an airtight container, you can keep your caramel corn fresh for up to one year. Two weeks versus one year, it’s pretty much a no-brainer, right?
How to Freeze Caramel Corn
So, now that you know some of the background information and how long caramel corn can last in the freezer, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of it all and how you actually freeze caramel corn the proper way. This is how you do it:
- First, if you made a fresh batch of caramel corn yourself, like with other food you need to allow it to fully cool before moving forward.
- Next, decide how many portions you would like to have. You should consider some of the ways that you’ll be using it in the future. For example, if you want to bring individual servings for your kids, or perhaps larger servings for a communal snack at a picnic.
- After you know how many servings you’d like, fill the appropriate amount of sealable airtight freezer bags with the desired amount and seal tightly.
- Label the bags and put them in the freezer.
You’re all set! And now you have a quick and tasty snack to grab anytime you’d like. Also, since caramel corn doesn’t fully freeze you can eat it pretty much directly from the freezer. How good is that?
How to Thaw Caramel Corn
As I just mentioned, there really is not much of a need to thaw caramel corn since it doesn’t really freeze. If you don’t want it to have a slight cool feeling, then you can simply just leave it out at room temperature for some minutes and then you can snack on it just as you would when it’s fresh.
However, you may find that it doesn’t quite have the same crunch that it did before you put it in the freezer. No need to fret, though. You can easily reinvigorate it and bring it back to its former glory. It only takes a few steps, and here’s how you do it via the oven:
- Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the caramel corn on a baking pan lined with parchment paper.
- Bake the caramel corn until it’s warm and crisp, turning and stirring with a wooden spoon every 10 minutes.
- You can bake for up to 60 minutes. But be careful not to overcook it.
While this may not always be necessary, it’s a good option to have if you notice that the caramel corn could use a bit of refreshing.
How to Use Caramel Corn After Freezing
The easiest and most convenient use of caramel corn after it’s been frozen is snacking on it just as you would normally. You can either eat it pretty much straight from the freezer, or you can wait a couple of minutes for it to return to room temperature. If you want to refresh it, you can make it warm and crisp by baking it in the oven.
But if you’re after something a bit different, there are other ways that you can use caramel corn after freezing.
Since caramel corn is such a versatile snack option you can try some new and interesting things with it as well. They range from simple additions to more complex recipes.
On the simple side, you can turn your caramel corn into a snack mix of your choice. Keep it sweet by mixing together some cashews and chocolate chips. Or, you can make your own copycat Cracker Jack and add some peanuts. You can also mix savory and sweet by adding mini pretzels to the mix as well. No matter what you choose, you really can’t go wrong.
I’ve particularly enjoyed trying out some of the gourmet popcorn options in this list from Taste of Home. There’s bound to be something there that you and your family will love.
On the more complex end of the spectrum (which still isn’t that complex) you can make popcorn balls. Again you can keep it sweet by using only ingredients like homemade caramel sauce, caramel, syrup and brown sugar. Or, you can mix and match sweet and savory by incorporating some salted popcorn as well. This can be nice if you’re a fan of salted caramel.
Give this vintage popcorn ball recipe from Tori Avey a try for a great candy alternative.
No matter what you choose, you’ll surely be licking your fingers and dying for more!