The microwave is one of the most misunderstood appliances in the modern kitchen. Many people see it as a secondary appliance, something that you only use occasionally to reheat leftovers or heat up last night’s takeout. If you’re thinking about buying a new microwave or just want to learn more about these handy little appliances, keep reading.
Microwaves are useful not just for reheating food and cooking frozen meals, but also for a variety of other tasks that are helpful in an efficient home kitchen. In this article, we explore some useful tips and tricks for using your microwave more effectively and efficiently.
A Little Background on Microwaves
Microwaves are electromagnetic radiation that can be used to cook food by heating the water inside the food. Microwaves are most effective when used to cook food where water is the primary ingredient and can be absorbed into the food, such as vegetables and grains. Microwaves are also useful for reheating leftovers, defrosting frozen foods, and melting or caramelizing butter or chocolate.
Microwaves use a device called a magnetron to generate electromagnetic radiation in the form of microwaves that travel inside an enclosed waveguide that leads into the kitchen, up the wall, into the ceiling, and down the other side where they are reflected into the microwave by a rotating metal turntable.
The microwaves are reflected back and forth between the turntable and the ceiling and enter the food at a low angle where water molecules are most easily absorbed by the food and cause it to heat up.
Defrosting frozen food in the microwave is a great way to speed up the process. Simply place the frozen food in a microwavable dish or a sealed plastic bag and microwave on a high setting. Frozen items will defrost in less than half the time it would take in a conventional oven.
For large items like turkeys, place the frozen item on a microwave-safe tray and cover it with a lid or a clean cloth to ensure the food does not dry out. It is also a good idea to rotate the item halfway through to ensure it defrosts evenly.
Steaming food in the microwave is a great way to maintain its nutritional value while also ensuring it is tender and delicious. There are various ways to steam food in the microwave; you can use a special steaming basket, a vegetable steamer, or even a colander placed in a microwave-safe bowl. You can steam a variety of foods in the microwave, such as broccoli, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, and potatoes.
For best results, place a couple of spoons of water in the bottom of the microwave-safe bowl. This will create steam to cook the food.
Steaming food in the microwave is a great way to rapidly reheat leftovers quickly and effectively. A microwave will rapidly heat food from the inside out, unlike a conventional oven which heats from the outside in. This means that food is heated more quickly and evenly in the microwave, so there is little danger of it burning.
For this method, you’ll need a microwave-safe bowl, some water, and your leftovers. Place the food in a bowl and cover it with a lid or a plate to allow it to steam. Add a few spoons of water to the bowl and cover with cling film. Place the bowl on the top rack and set the microwave to high for around 10 minutes or until the food is heated through.
To use your microwave to make rotisserie-style chicken, all you need to do is pop the chicken in a microwave-safe dish and put it on the top or side rack of the microwave with the legs facing towards the back. Set the microwave to high and cook for between 12 and 15 minutes depending on the size of the chicken.
When using this method, always check the progress of the chicken every few minutes as microwaves cook food unevenly and you may need to rotate the dish or adjust the cooking time. This is a quick and easy way to make delicious, rotisserie-style chicken in the microwave.
Decorating With Coated Dishes
If you find yourself short of bowls for a party or baking and don’t want to wash up any more dishes than you have to, coated dishes are the solution. Coated dishes, such as porcelain plates, are microwave safe once the coating has been removed and are the perfect solution for impromptu entertaining and baking.
To remove the coating, simply place the dish in the microwave and heat on high for a few minutes until the coating begins to bubble and blister. Once the coating has been removed, the dish is microwave safe and can be used in much the same way as an ordinary bowl or plate.
Baking in a Microwave
If you are short a few baking trays or don’t have time to go and buy some, you can use a microwave to bake cookies or biscuits. To do this, place a baking tray or a microwave-safe plate on the top shelf of the microwave without any paper or foil and set the microwave to high for around 2-3 minutes.
The exact time and temperature will depend on the quantity and type of food being baked and you should check the food frequently to make sure it is not burning. This method is not suited to all recipes, but it is useful to know when you are really in a bind.
A microwave is a useful appliance that is often underutilized. By knowing how to reheat food, steam food, and bake in a microwave, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort. Always remember to keep your microwave clean and free from clutter to extend its life and keep it running efficiently. And don’t forget to take good care of your microwave so it can take good care of you!