How to improve a microwave oven and get the best out of it? The answer to that question is a priority. So, why don’t we go ahead and find out?
Gone are the days when heating, cooking and baking consumed a good deal of time. The invention of microwave ovens has made all the cooking-related chores effortless and quick.
Did you ever imagine baking a delicious chocolate cake in 15 minutes? Or treating yourself to healthy grilled chicken in only 10 minutes? How about having guests over and preparing lip-smacking mac and cheese or baked potatoes or roasted veggies in only a few minutes? This magical appliance can do it all.
Sure, it sounds super convenient. But it bothers me to see how people do not always use this appliance the right way. However, I won’t tag you as a reckless user. Let’s say you are unaware of how to use a microwave oven efficiently.
I am here to reveal some secret hacks today. My detailed guide is going to help you on how to improve a microwave oven. With some pride, I can say that you are surely not finding these microwave cooking tips anywhere else.
How to improve the way you use a Microwave Oven? Know all the ways
Indians have deep emotions towards food. A microwave oven is a convenient appliance that allows everyone to acquire the best food. But let’s not take it for granted. When there are ways to use it in the most right and efficient way, why not follow them? I am going to disclose some tips to use a microwave oven. You may be familiar with some and unaware of some. However, there’s no such manoeuvre you cannot follow. So without further ado, let’s get going.
How to use a microwave oven efficiently? Tips & Tricks
1. Read the manual carefully
Yes, this sounds like an obvious one. But how many people read the manual carefully? As many DOs and DONTs, I tell you about, every appliance functions differently. In addition, every brand has its exclusivity and restriction. Therefore, I would recommend you to the manual guide no matter how many articles you have read. Going through the user manual is not a waste of time. It is sure to help you in some way. Safety instructions, modes of operations, a list of food items, cook time, ideal temperature; the manual will have it all.
2. Clean it the right way
Cleaning the microwave the right way is as important as using it the right way. An unclean microwave oven can lead to health hazards and drop your microwave oven’s efficiency tremendously. A dirty microwave can also have an unpleasant odour in the interior. This foul odour is most likely to get into your food as well. So stay away from a filthy and smelly microwave oven. To know in detail how you can clean this appliance, read our blog on 10 Smart Ways to Clean a Microwave Oven.
3. You should always cover the food
You can easily have access to microwave-safe plastic covers now. It is the first accessory you must purchase once you buy a microwave oven. There are several reasons for this. One, it will prevent the food from splattering in the appliance. Two, putting in the food covered will help in retaining the moisture in the food. Third, it helps in warming up the food evenly. Finally, covering the food will also ensure that the food does not dry up. Besides using the usual plastic microwave safe covers, you can also use microwave cooking bags, wax paper, plastic cover, foil and parchment paper.
4. Warm the food in less quantity
Have you ever experienced the food from the refrigerator not heating up despite you keeping it in for long? It is a common microwave problem. Increasing the timer is not going to help you. What you have to do is reduce the quantity of the food. Make the quantity half, stir the food, add a few water droplets and then microwave it for a minute. You will notice the food being heated perfectly.
5. Do not repeatedly reheat food in the microwave
Most people reheat food from the previous day to avoid wastage. And there is nothing wrong with it. We can’t just throw away leftovers. However, you need to limit reheating the food in a microwave oven. When it comes to reheating home-cooked meals, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommends you to do it only once. In the case of restaurant takeaways, avoid reheating it at all because you are unaware of the process of how the food has reached you. For example, it may have been pre-cooked and then heated before delivering it to you. So, I would recommend you not to take any chances with that sort of food.
6. Stir and rotate food frequently
Some food items need to be stirred, and some need to be rotated. If you want to avoid cold spots, doing these is a must. However, not stirring and rotating the food can also lead to uneven distribution of heat sometimes. Even if your appliance has a turntable, I recommend you go the extra mile and do these actions. The rule applies even in case you are defrosting food. Turn your food at least once. Do not trust what you see. You may not notice that some part of the food is on its way to getting cooked while the rest of it remains frozen. That means part-frozen and partly cooked meals. A big no, right?
7. Cut food into small pieces
Uniform cooking is one of the biggest challenges in microwave cooking. If you place big chunks of food items, be ready to deal with uneven cooking. I have already mentioned the reason behind cold spots and part cooking. So that’s another reason for it. Cutting food into small pieces will ensure that your food gets cooked properly.
8. Standing time is a must once your food is ready
It is so tempting to open the microwave oven and remove the food from the inside immediately. Do not do this. Here is a microwave cooking tip for you. Once your timer goes off, be patient by the standing cooking time. It is a part of the cooking process. The standing time lets the centre portion of your food get more even cooking. As a thumb rule, leave the food unattended for a minimum of five minutes. However, if it is something more complex like chicken or beef, then give it 10-15 minutes.
9. Avoid long usage
When you have a line of dishes to be served for dinner, you tend to put them all in a microwave for heating. Have you experienced the dish taking too long to get warmed? Maybe that would have happened quicker on the gas stove. Divide and rule work towards providing significant microwave improvements. For example: If you have six to seven dishes to be served for dinner. You could heat a few on the gas stove and half in the microwave. However, long usage can undoubtedly drop the efficiency of the appliance. So, avoid doing it if you can.
10. Replace the microwave components at the right time
Replacing the microwave components at the right time is so important. A fault in any part can hamper the appliance’s operation- the oven’s door may not shut properly, or it may get too noisy. There are high chances that your microwave stops midway. The food may take too long to heat up. The ceiling may heat up, or the light may not turn on. A lot of things can happen. Therefore, I advise you not to prolong any replacements. If you always wondered about how to improve microwave efficiency, this is a great answer to that question. Repair and replace at the right time.
Our blog on 10 Common Problems with a Microwave Oven & How to Solve It will tell you more about it.
10. Don’t use square-shaped utensils
We have already discovered how important it is to use microwave-safe cookware. Besides, shape and size matter too. So do not use larger-than-life-size cookware. Also, make sure it is either round or oval. As per the American Chemistry Council, you should completely avoid square and rectangular shape vessels. It is because the corners of these bowls receive more energy. Therefore, there are high chances of the edges getting burnt and the food getting heated unevenly.
11. Discover the hot spot
You definitely won’t know this without doing some trials. First, finding the hotspot is a great idea. Every microwave oven has an area where the food will get heated quicker than expected. To find the “hot spot”, you can place some flat food item on a plate for a few seconds. The area that heats up quickly is the hot spot. So, the next time you want to warm your food, you know exactly where to place it.
12. Do not ignore weight restrictions
Respect the weight limitation provided by the manufacturer. It will either be mentioned on the microwave door or the user manual. If you are using the appliance for heating or cooking common dishes, you don’t have to look into this. Generally, they are below the capacity limit. However, in the case of defrosting large size frozen food, it may get heavier than expected. Hence, you cannot ignore the criterion in this case. Neglecting it could either harm your appliance or not defrost the food at all. What is the point, then?
13. Do not run an empty appliance
Are you wondering why are we even discussing this? Who runs a microwave oven while it’s empty? It can happen by accident. Or mischief by your child. Well, if it is done up to five minutes, you can relax about it. It will cause no harm to your appliance. However, more than that can damage your appliance brutally and pull down your microwave efficiency. There can even be a possibility of fire. In addition, it can also damage the unit completely or certain components.
14. Know what can go inside the microwave
My readers have the privilege to know about all the food items that can cook in a microwave oven. If you haven’t read it yet, glance through my blog on The Complete Guide to Convection Microwaves- Pros, Cons, and Alternatives. As much as you should know which food items can go inside the microwave, you should also be aware of the food items that can not go inside this appliance. I am going to now give you a brief list of the same.
- Boiled eggs
- Any sauce
- Leftover potato
- Formula milk
- Leafy greens
- Raw rice
- Anything which has been reheated before
This microwave cooking tip is only to ensure you stay away from kitchen disasters. Follow it as much as you can.
15. Ensure there is no leakage
Detecting a leakage in the microwave is not so simple. You cannot smell or see it. However, it would be best to be certain about no leakages because it can be really dangerous. A leakage in the microwave means the emission of dangerous radiations. Therefore, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends looking for leaks before using the appliance. Better to be sure than sorry. Here are few easy ways in which you can detect microwave leakage.
16. Keep the metal away
Placing metal in a microwave oven can cause volatile reactions like short circuit or sparks. Metal objects like spoons, knives, plates or forks contain a lot of electrons. Hence, they are high conductors of electricity. When these objects hit the microwave, you will experience some great reactions. Therefore, it is best to keep them away.
One Last Thought
Well, you know how to improve the way you use a microwave now. This invention by humankind is as blissful as it could get. Using it the right way is going to benefit you in many ways. One, it will last you for long. Two, the efficiency of the appliance stays intact. Three, it reduces the cooking time drastically. Four, less requirement for professional service. Who wants to splurge money on fixing the appliance every fortnight? Rather stick to the basic rules.
Before you leave, here are a few tips I want to share with you.
Is everything clear? Now, you might want to head to our other blogs – 9 Best Microwave Ovens in India 2022- Reviews & Buyers Guide. That might help you make even greater use of your microwave’s full potential.
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- Is Microwave Cooking a Healthy Option? Explained!
- 10 Common Problems with a Microwave Oven & How to Solve It
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