Sis’ Popcorn Balls

My Momma makes popcorn balls with the granddaughters every fall . The grandson mostly just eats them!  She gives credit for the recipe to my aunt Sis (Elizabeth Methvin). Sis’ sister, Coot also made them and her daughter, Mary was kind enough to type the recipe up on her blog/website. So, I’ll give both of these dear ladies credit for this delicious treat,  along with my Momma for keep that tradition going. This only tricky part is boiling the syrup to just the perfect point. A candy thermometer will take care of that for you.

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup white corn syrup
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup butter
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. vanilla
3 quarts popped corn

Combine sugar, corn syrup, water, butter, and salt in a saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat to hard ball stage. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour over popcorn. When cool enough to handle, form into balls with buttered hands. Cool and wrap in individual sandwich bags or waxed paper.


About Debbie

I have been married for 20 years to a Yankee, have two great kids, a fun and funny Southern family, and a whole bunch of friends. I try to enjoy the journey!
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3 Responses to Sis’ Popcorn Balls

  1. Debbie says:

    Mary, I have no idea how they taste even one day old. Ours don’t normally last more than an hour! My recipe says Sis, but I know Coot made them too. Of course, my kids will likely call them Vee’s Popcorn Balls. The best memories of loved ones doing what they love! I can’t even imagine the mess in your mom’s kitchen making that many popcorn balls! If I saw somebody selling them and they were good, I’d surely buy a sack full too!

    • Mary McGhee says:

      It wasn’t just the kitchen…it seems like the whole house got sticky, and there were bits of popcorn everywhere! You can’t make more than about a triple batch of these at one time. There’s a sweet spot between when the syrup-covered popcorn is too hot to handle and when it gets too cool for the balls to stick together, and my mother figured out that she could shape a triple batch in that time, and no more. So she was making one batch after another for a couple of days to turn out that many! She would have two saucepans going at once on the stove, timed so she could finish with one before the other needed to be poured up. Plus she would have a big Revereware skillet going, popping the popcorn–no popcorn popper! She mixed them up in a big roaster pan. She would buy out the grocery store on Baggies, and my job was to wrap them. I managed to wrap most of them, too, after I ate enough to get my fill!

  2. Mary McGhee says:

    Sis made them too, but I can’t think of these as anything but my mother’s (although, truth be told, they both got the recipe from the same place: the Jolly Time Popcorn bag!) My mom made them every Halloween for the trick-or-treaters, back when parents didn’t automatically throw out anything not factory sealed. It got to where kids would come to our door asking “Is this the place with the popcorn balls?” And by the end of the night, some of those kids started looking really familiar…

    One year a friend asked her to make some for a charity Christmas bazaar. I think she made two or three hundred the first time, and they sold out long before the end of the bazaar. So the next year she made more…and more…until I think she wound up making about 1,200 for a three-day event. And still they sold out! People would come and buy them by the grocery sack-full–they came back year after year looking at them.

    Do watch that syrup–it would make a good napalm substitute. I remember my mother dripped some square on her big toe once while cooking in her bedroom slippers. It raised a great big blister! The popcorn balls are best within a day or two, which usually isn’t a problem–but be warned, they’ve pulled out more than one filling when they sat around too long!