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Nuke It! Microwave Cooking

Nuke It! Microwave Cooking

What are the benefits of microwaving?
What are some of the limitations of microwaving?
What are some tips for microwaving?
How do I microwave safely?

What are the benefits of microwaving?
It's hard to remember a time before microwaves. You'll find them in the school cafeteria and in the fanciest restaurants. No wonder! Microwaves make cooking (and reheating leftovers) so easy. If you forgot to get the hamburger out of the freezer before you left for school, no problem. Nuke it! And "steamed" veggies and rice never tasted better.

Microwave ovens are energy efficient, and on hot summer days they won't heat up the kitchen. There's no sudden rush of hot air like there is when you open a regular oven door. If you touch the walls or tray of a microwave that's just been on, you won't get burned. That makes microwaving a safe way to develop cooking skills. back to top

What are some of the limitations of microwaving?
Ever try reheating a slice of pizza or a corn muffin in a microwave? You probably ended up with a spongy, rubbery texture that isn't very appealing. Here are some other frequent pitfalls:
  • Overheating: You end up with dry, hard food.
  • Undercooking: You find yourself eating harmful bacteria that survived because the meat didn't get hot enough.
  • Uneven cooking: You have cold spots and hot spots because you didn't turn or stir the food. A rotating tray is one way to avoid hot spots.
  • Broken dishes: You need to use microwave-safe dishes and containers. back to top back to top
What are some tips for microwaving?
Here are some popular uses for the microwave—and tips for cooking well:
  • Don't miss the bus because of a frozen English muffin. Wrap it in paper towel and microwave it at 30 percent power for 45 seconds. If you're defrosting two muffins, nuke them for 60 to 75 seconds at 30 percent power.
  • Speed up the backyard BBQ by partially cooking meat or chicken in the microwave. This will help keep the meat juicier and also shorten the grilling time.
  • Avoid that burning steam when using plastic wrap in the microwave: Pierce the wrap with a fork to release steam build-up (or switch to wax paper).
  • Soften that block of brown sugar by placing the package in a microwave-safe dish. Then, add a slice of soft white bread or an apple wedge, cover the dish tightly, and microwave at 100 percent power for 30 seconds. Throw out the bread or apple and stir the sugar.
  • Enjoy leftover rice by sprinkling it lightly with water or broth before you nuke it. Cover the rice with a domed, heatproof glass lid, and microwave at 100 percent power for 3 to 4 minutes. back to top
How do I microwave safely?
Microwaving is generally safe (and easy!)—if you follow certain precautions: back to top

  • Remove food from its packaging before defrosting or cooking it in a microwave.
  • Plastic wrap, freezer cartons, and Styrofoam trays are not heat-stable. (You can microwave a container of food with plastic wrap on top—just don't let the wrap touch the food, unless you like the taste of plastic).
  • Don't reheat leftovers in containers intended for cold foods like margarine, whipped topping, or soft cheese packages. Those plastic packages can melt in the microwave, leaving you with a big mess.
  • Don't reuse trays or containers that come with microwavable convenience foods, like frozen dinners.
  • Glass, wax paper, parchment, and oven cooking bags are usually safe to use in the microwave, but check the box to be sure.
  • If you prefer to use plastic containers, make sure they're labeled as safe for microwave use.
  • When using a microwave to cook meat or poultry, use a microwave temperature probe or check with a meat thermometer to make sure food has reached a safe temperature. Red meat should be 160 degrees Fahrenheit and poultry should be 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Check in several spots.
  • Stir or rotate food once or twice during microwaving.
  • Remove twist ties and any other metal objects before you nuke—the sparks may look cool but they'll fry your microwave. back to top
Last Modified Date: 12/19/2000
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