There’s a reason Dire Straits sang about microwave ovens back in the 80s – they’re just that amazing!
But while many homeowners boast a microwave in their kitchen, the tragedy is they’re often not using them to their full potential. We want to put you on the path to microwave cooking greatness with just a few easy-to-remember hacks.
It’s well worth a read…
Microwave Cooking Hacks You Need to Know
We’re glad you’ve stuck with us this far and have decided to read on. You’ve made the right choice!
Hack#1: Don’t Get Soggy
When it comes to microwave cooking, don’t mess with recipes that need lots and lots of water – that’s best left to your stove. Pasta is one such example. It’s simple enough to cook on the stove, and would probably take less time.
Hack#2: Keep Those Veggies Nutritious
Microwaves heat up really quickly and need minimal water (see point above) which is why they’re great for cooking vegetables. Just add a touch of water to a plate or shallow bowl, and the vegetables will actually retain the nutrients, rather than draining them away in the water.
Hack#3: Peel Garlic Like a Pro
If your recipe calls for peeled garlic, then don’t waste your time trying to do it without the help of your microwave – otherwise, you’ll end up with a pungent, sticky mess. Place the garlic in the microwave for 15 seconds so the moisture is drawn between the skin and the clove, making it easier to remove.
Hack#4: Squeezy Lemons
Making a lemon meringue pie? Then the microwave is your best friend! Just throw the lemons into the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds to make the inner pulp soft and then squeeze all the zesty juice out easily.
Hack#5: Divide and Conquer
The way microwaves cook food is by heating the outer layers first, which means it can take some time to reach the middle. For that reason, it's often better to cook larger dishes in smaller batches so they'll cook more thoroughly faster.
Hack#6: Bubble, Bubble
If you’re heating up something that is liquid – such as a soup – you should put it on high heat (at least 75 degrees Celsius) in the centre of the oven and wait until it bubbles. Don’t forget to give it a good stir halfway through. (Look out for an important safety point below on heating thick sauces or soups in your microwave.)
Hack#7: Know When to Let Go
This well-used household appliance is, like any appliance, not going to last forever. Although great quality appliances will last you a substantial number of years, there will be a point in time when you need to replace your microwave. If the cooking is slower than it should be, there are loud sounds or the keypad is malfunctioning, it could be time to check out a replacement.
What Can You Cook in a Microwave?
We’ve already taught you so much about using microwaves, but you’re clearly interested in learning a bit more! And we’re here to help. One of the most common questions we’re asked is what can you cook in a microwave. The simple answer is almost anything – you just have to know how.
The real question is, what can’t you cook in a microwave?
- Processed meats: These contain chemicals and preservatives that can be more harmful when warmed in a microwave.
- Whole eggs: Hardboiled eggs are a great snack but they tend to explode in the microwave from pressure build-up. Save these for the stove!
- Grapes: Despite consisting mostly of water, grapes can actually catch alight in a microwave.
- Frozen meat: You can use the defrost setting to thaw meat but make sure it’s evenly thawed or bacteria can grow causing food-borne illness.
- Chilli peppers: The capsaicin in chillies is released in the microwave and can burn your eyes and throat.
- Breast milk: The microwave can cause hot spots that may burn baby’s mouths, so best thaw milk naturally.
- Tomato pasta sauce: The thick consistency of the sauce makes it difficult for particles to move so steam builds up and explodes the sauce.
Tips for Cleaning Your Microwave
If you missed the previous section and decided to warm up last night’s tomato pasta in the microwave, you’re probably contending with a sticky microwave mess right now. Not to worry, our handy tips continue with cleaning your microwave! In fact, even if you haven’t suffered a tomato-induced explosion, it’s well worth giving your microwave a cleanout on a regular basis.
You can do it with the old-fashioned soap and sponge, but we recommend the following two tips for a really thorough clean that loosens the grime first.
Cleaning tip#1: Vinegar
- Get out a microwave-safe or glass bowl and fill it with two cups of water and two tablespoons of vinegar. If you’re not so keen on the smell of vinegar, then add a drop of your favourite essential oil.
- Place the container in the centre of the microwave and place it on high for five minutes. It's advisable to leave it in there for 15 minutes before opening.
- Open the microwave and remove the container and then the turntable. Wipe this down with a wet cloth.
- Wipe down the microwave door, bottom, top and sides with a cloth or paper towel.
Cleaning tip#2: Lemons
- Once again, lemons and microwaves combine! Warm the lemon in the microwave for about 20 seconds and then cut it in half.
- Place one cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl or glass bowl and squeeze the lemon juice from both halves into the bowl.
- Place the squeezed lemon halves in the water as well, then place the container in the centre of the microwave and switch on high for five minutes.
- Let the bowl stand for another five minutes and then remove the bowl.
- Remove the turntable and wipe it clean, before wiping the inside of the microwave.
Cooking Safely in the Microwave
Despite providing you with so much information on microwave cooking, our first priority is keeping you safe. That’s why we’re also sharing some important microwave safety tips to keep you ready and able to cook another day.
The manufacturer knows best.
Find that user manual you snuck straight into the ‘everything drawer’ and start reading it. Not all microwaves are created equal and this will ensure you’re using yours in the safest way possible.
Check your utensils
Microwave-safe containers must be used, at all times, in the microwave. No metal cookware or aluminium foil can be used as they can cause fires.
Replace if there’s warping.
Check there’s no bending or warping of your microwave door as this could lead to radiation leaks. If there is a problem, replace it or repair it immediately.
If you are looking to replace your microwave or are considering buying your first one, then you can’t go wrong with Defy. Not only does this reputable South African brand ensure user safety, but the microwaves are also designed for longevity and the most satisfying cooking experience.
They also happen to be some of the best-looking microwaves on the market with user-friendly features that make meal preparation simple and fun!