Since the microwave oven made its appearance on the public market in the 1970s, it has changed the way most people in developed nations prepare their food. As opposed to cooking with heat on a stovetop, this device warms up organic material by passing radiation through it.
The result? Shorter cooking times. And I am indebted to the microwave oven for saving my tummy on several occasions when I was to tired and downright lazy!
Before we go further, it is important to understand how a microwave oven works. Microwave ovens are so quick and efficient because they channel heat energy directly to the molecules (tiny particles) inside food. Microwaves heat food like the sun heats your face—by radiation.
A microwave is much like the electromagnetic waves that zap through the air from TV and radio transmitters. It’s an invisible up-and-down pattern of electricity and magnetism that races through the air at the speed of light (300,000 km or 186,000 miles per second). While radio waves can be very long indeed (some measure tens of kilometers or miles between one wave crest and the next), they can also be tiny: microwaves are effectively the shortest radio waves—and the microwaves that cook food in your oven are just 12 cm (roughly 5 inches) long. (You can read more about electromagnetic waves in our article on the electromagnetic spectrum.)
Despite their small size, microwaves carry a huge amount of energy. One drawback of microwaves is that they can damage living cells and tissue. This is why microwaves can be harmful to people—and why microwave ovens are surrounded by strong metal boxes that do not allow the waves to escape.
In normal operation, microwave ovens are perfectly safe. Even so, microwaves can be very dangerous, so never fool around with a microwave oven. Microwaves are also used in cellphones (mobile phones), where they carry your voice back and forth through the air, and radar.
By using a microwave, you can put a full meal on the dinner table in just a matter of minutes. However, just like its stovetop counterpart, you could do better with the correct use. Here are some tips on microwave cooking.
1. Read and follow the instructions in the owner’s manual. The manual is a wealth of information you’ll need to know for safe, healthy cooking, including operating procedures and safety warnings. Many people skip this for a video tutorial which works too.
2. Read and follow the instructions on prepackaged foods you’re going to cook or reheat. Undercooking food in a microwave can leave you with cold, tasteless items that contain harmful bacteria. On the other hand, overcooking food makes it tough, rubbery, and inedible.
3. Use microwave-safe containers to cook or heat food or liquids. Suitable plates and containers are usually marked or stamped on the bottom. For safety’s sake, if you’re unsure whether a bowl, dish, or plate is microwave safe, don’t use it.
Or, if the plate or container is made of glass, you can perform a test if you’re pretty sure it’s safe: place it in the oven and “nuke” it for one minute. Then, touch it. If it’s lukewarm to the touch or it feels cool, it should be safe. But if the container is warm, don’t use it in your microwave oven.
4. Clean the inside of the door and the cavity after every use. This will prevent food and spatters from becoming cooked onto the surface, making it easier to clean. Keeping your oven clean will also remove germs and unhealthy bacteria that can pollute foods and liquids you place inside it.
5. Use caution when you open a bag, box, or other container that’s been cooked or heated up. Because the container was closed, or even partially closed, scalding steam can build up inside it.
Here’s a bonus for you. For microwave containers, shape is key when it comes to reheating food. Rectangular ones usually attract more energy to their corners than to other areas, leaving the food in those spots overcooked. A round container, on the other hand, allows leftovers to reheat more uniformly. And don’t add seasonings until you’re done nuking the meal.
Microwave energy is drawn to salt, so a seasoned top will collect heat and leave the outer layer of your food dry. If you’d rather add salt first, mix it in thoroughly.– if you’re not sure what the wattage of your oven is, then do the water test. Pour a cup of water into a microwave-safe glass measuring cup. Heat the cup on high heat until the water boils.
Now put the container and ding, you got a ready to eat meal.
Check out my related post: Is bluetooth dangerous?