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Cooking Tips for Using Microwave Ovens

Sep 16, 2008
You might hear a lot of contradictory advice about how to cook in your microwave oven. If you're confused, there's no need to be concerned. Many people don't know a lot about this easy, fast way of preparing food. Here are a few tips that'll help you enjoy microwave cooking a lot more successfully.

First, make sure you cook in the right plastics. While plastic containers work well in the microwave, not all of them are created equal. Some aren't heat proof, and will melt or deform when placed in your microwave. Others contain harmful substances that can leach into food that's in contact with them if you heat them up. Because of this, it's extremely important to make sure you use only plastics intended to be put in the microwave. Don't reuse packages like margarine containers as microwave cooking containers. Also, only heat foods in their packages if they have directions for microwave cooking. If you don't see these directions, take food out of the package before you cook it.

Remember that microwaved food should be cooked in small pieces, too. Cut larger items into uniformly sized and shaped pieces, and spread them evenly in the dish you're cooking in. You may need to rotate or move these food pieces around while cooking. Keep uneven foods arranged with thick parts towards the outside walls of the container. In the microwave, outer edges cook faster than the inside of a food.

Anything that has a shell, skin, or impermeable outside coating should be pierced before you cook it. This includes eggs and many vegetables. Failure to pierce foods means that steam can build up inside, causing an explosion. Remember to cook in a slightly larger container than would be used in a conventional oven, for even heating. A round or oval shaped container is better for microwave cooking than a rectangle or square. That's because corners can cause heat build up.

If using recipes, cook for the lower part of the state time range. It's easy to cook food for a little bit longer, but you can't un-cook anything! If your microwave doesn't have a turntable, you'll need to periodically stop it so that you can rotate the food inside. Remember that dishes inside the microwave will be very hot. An oven pad or mitt should be used to prevent burns.

Lids should be used for anything you'd cook covered in the oven. This helps food cook more evenly, and allows it to retain moisture. Remember to leave the lid slightly open so that steam pressure doesn't build up. Lift lids carefully when you take the food out of the microwave, and face the opening away from you to avoid burns. If you need to salt food, such as steamed vegetables or meat, do it after microwaving. Surface salt can dry out food in the microwave.

If you're baking, consider softening sticks of butter by heating them for thirty seconds on half power. If heating sour cream or heavy cream, use lower power settings to prevent curdling. If your brown sugar has gotten hard, slice an apple or put a piece of bread into a loosely covered container with the sugar. Heat for about thirty seconds to add moisture into your sugar. If you want to make bread crumbs, just microwave cubed bread until it gets stale. You can then crush the bread inside a plastic bag for easy cleanup.

Frozen meat can be separated by defrosting for thirty seconds to a minute. Then, if you wish to cook it further, arrange it evenly in the dish. You can also drain hamburger fat by microwaving the meat in a plastic colander on top of a bowl or other dish. The fat runs into the dish and out of the meat.
About the Author
Robert Cooksey has published a variety of websites covering household and kitchen appliances including information about microwave ovens, and specifically relating to the Sharp Microwave Oven series.
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