Microwave usage – How to use the microwave optimally?
Microwave ovens have long been part of everyday life in many households. Most people use them mainly for defrosting and warming up.
But already with it, many uncertainties emerge: What is getting heated at which power level? Which time setting is correct? What can be getting put in the microwave, and what not?
Most people do not dare to cook in the microwave. Many consumers also wonder whether radiation is harmful.
Read here how to use the microwave best, how the fast waves work, and whether they can damage.
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Table of Contents
Using a microwave oven in summary
- If you’re in a hurry, you should prefer small portions and use two plates in a row if necessary. As a rule of thumb, if the amount of food is getting doubled, the preparation time is also increased.
- For an optimal result when heating food, use the power of about 400 to 500 watts. Although the process takes a little longer, the result is tastier and more germ-free.
- Especially with large portions, the food gets much too hot on the outside, although it is still cold in the middle. Form a ring on the plate by clearing the middle of it. This way, your food will be getting heated evenly.
- If possible, use porcelain plates and vessels to heat your food. Glass and microwaveable plastics can also be used. Metal and plates with a gold rim should never be getting placed in the microwave.
Note: The microwave’s electromagnetic waves primarily heat the water, fat, and salts in the food. Dry food such as rolls can not be getting heated in the microwave.
Microwave Usage – What we need to consider?
As easy as the microwave may seem to be to use, it still has its pitfalls in some respects. Many things are quite often done wrong – with the result that food is either heated too much or too little or becomes unsightly. You can read here how to use the microwave properly and which points you have to pay attention to.
1. Microwaves get water flowing.
The heart of every microwave is the so-called magnetron, a transmitter that generates electromagnetic waves. These penetrate the food. Because of their wavelength, they excite molecules with a so-called dipole moment to oscillate. Water is such a typical molecule. But salts and fats also resonate. These oscillations generate heat directly in the food. So does heat not act from the outside as it does in the oven or on the stovetop.
2. Save energy and time with small quantities in the microwave
Microwaves save energy and time. However, this only applies to small quantities of up to 500 g; with the microwave, the following applies: double the amount equals double the time! While you need about the same time in the oven for two cakes as for one, the cooking time in the microwave always increases proportionally to the quantity.
Another advantage of the microwave is the possibility of low-fat and gentle cooking. However, vitamins are not always better preserved. As when cooking on the stove, it is crucial to keep the cooking times as short as possible and cook with as little water as possible so that no nutrients are leached into the cooking water.
3. Limits of the microwave
Since microwaves only heat the water in the food up to a boiling point, temperatures above 100 °C are impossible. Therefore, pure microwaves cannot roast and do not produce a crispy crust. This only works with combination appliances that can simultaneously switch on a heat source such as a grill.
Dry food cannot be getting heated in the microwave. If you try to heat rolls in it, you will find them dry as dust and hard as a rock. Whole eggs, chocolate kisses, or sausages burst in the microwave. They must be broken open or cut before cooking.
4. Suitable dishes for microwave
Not every dish is suitable for the microwave. Metal must not be allowed in under any circumstances, as it can cause sparks. It also applies to dishes with gold rim. Glass, porcelain, and heat-resistant plastics are ideal. Pay attention to the designation “suitable for microwave” for plastics.
Older porcelain or earthenware can cause problems in the microwave. You can test whether it is suitable by placing the empty dish in the microwave for one or two minutes. If it gets hot, it is not suitable. Please put a cup of water in the microwave during the test, as idle time can damage the microwave.
5. Defrosting with the microwave
Frozen food can be getting defrosted relatively quickly in the microwave. But it would help if you were not in too much of a hurry. Defrosting is best done at a low power of 100-250 watts. Most devices have a different defrosting stage with low energy.
Especially during defrosting, distinct hot spots and cold spots can form, like different areas with significantly different temperatures. A frozen food first melts, water is created, which absorbs a lot of energy and becomes very hot. Some parts of the meals may still be frozen, while other parts are already cooking.
In this case, only slow defrosting at low power and a rest period in which temperature differences can even out help. With liquids or soups, it is getting recommended to stir in between. But beware of delaying boiling! When stirring, it can splash out of hot spots. It can be getting prevented by placing a plastic spoon or a glass rod in the microwave liquid.
6. Warming up food quickly with microwave
Already cooked food can quickly be getting warmed up in the microwave. It can be getting done at full power. Often, however, a slightly more extended period at 400-500 watts is better suited to heat food evenly. The food must be getting heated evenly to at least 75 °C to reduce germs. A few minutes of rest should also be allowed to equalize the temperature when heating up.
7. Cooking in the microwave
Especially water-rich foods can be quickly getting cooked in the microwave. A cover prevents the food from drying out but can also make it mushy. In principle, food should only be getting salted after cooking.
Vegetables are cleaned and chopped, placed on a plate, and covered with a cover. If necessary, add some more water or cream. Depending on quantity, starting temperature, and consistency, cook for about 2-6 minutes at 600 watts.
Meat can be cooked at 500-750 watts for about 3-5 minutes without adding water or fat. However, roasts with a crispy crust can only be cooked in a combination appliance with a grill. The pieces of meat must be as equally thick as possible, preferably a maximum of 2.5 cm. Pork and poultry are well suited, while beef becomes slightly challenging.
Potatoes, rice, and pasta can also be cooked in the microwave with plenty of water, but this is only worthwhile for tiny quantities. Otherwise, foods that need to swell are better getting cooked in a pot on the stove.
How safe are microwaves? – Microwave ovens have been getting used in the household for over 30 years. So far, no adverse effects on food or human health are known. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment also considers microwave ovens to be safe.
Microwaves do not change food; their energy is not sufficient for this. Due to their wavelength, they cannot cause radiation damage or produce radiation (ionization) in the food. The effect of microwaves consists solely of the generation of heat. The result in the food is ultimately the same as with conventional heating.
In the human body, microwaves cause local heating, just like in food. It is used, for example, in microwave therapy for sports injuries. Microwave devices in the household are entirely getting shielded so that no radiation can escape to the outside. Minimal leakage radiation cannot always be getting excluded. However, this may only be minimal at the device and decreases rapidly with further distance anyway.
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