Using the microwave oven may seem like such a no-brainer that many people don’t read the instruction manual anymore. A microwave is a kitchen appliance designed to be super-friendly after all. But if you suddenly have to figure out how to get rid of the sound your microwave produces that is annoying, or close the door that feels stuck, I’m sure you’re now scrambling to find answers.
The following facts and trivia are things most people never knew about the microwave oven…and should definitely keep in mind:
- The first versions of the microwave were called “electronic ovens.”
- Microwavable cookware and the food on them are rarely hotter than 100°C when taken out of the appliance.
- The microwave is a direct descendant of radar. It was discovered by Percy Spenser accidentally while working on an active radar set.
- The phrase that “microwaves cook food from the inside out” is a misconception. The oven actually cooks equally (both inside and outside simultaneously).
- Cooking on the microwave is more effective on food with more water content and less efficient on high-fat or high-sugar food.
Microwavable Non-food Items
- Disinfect items in a flash. If you feel like your kitchen sponge is still clean, but you know it has gone through a rough week of cleaning, the easiest way to disinfect it is by running it in the microwave.
- Collect used stamps. For those who collect stamps and want to expand their collections to used stamps, learn how to remove them from old or new letters. By just putting a drop of water before microwaving for 10 to 15 seconds, you’ll be able to remove the stamp without destroying any part.
- Sterilize soil to encourage seedling growth. If you’re trying to be a green thumb and can’t even go beyond seed sprouting, it’s time you sterilize your soil first. Microwaving small batches can be a less messy alternative to boiling soil on a huge pot.
Not-so-famous Microwavable Food
- Bake single-serve goods. Many any cake, brownie, cupcake, and everything else in between if you’re craving for one. All you need is just 1/8th of the ingredients of its regular-sized counterpart, 10 minutes of prep time, and a microwave.
- Maximize your veggies. You’d be surprised that many vegetables lose their vitamins and minerals when cooked traditionally on the stove. For example, spinach loses about 77% of its folate if cooked on a stove, but retains almost all of them when microwaved.
- Cook eggs in different ways. Poach, ‘boil”, sunnyside, and other ways of cooking an egg are possible with a microwave oven. You do have to practice doing your preferred egg before you can master this way of cooking.
- Soak beans quickly. Most beans need to be soaked overnight before being cooked as part of your chilies or other recipes. If you forgot about them, you can shortcut the soaking process by placing them on a microwavable cup or bowl, then running them for 10 to 15 minutes on the microwave oven.
- Make homemade cheese. With whole milk, vinegar, a pinch of salt and your microwave, you can make homemade cheese in just an hour. Vegan nutritionist Sarah Bond shared an interesting microwave ricotta on her blog Live Eat Learn.
- Cook rice or quinoa. These dishes are normally cooked in a rice cooker and stove, but the microwave can save you if you have no other choice. What’s most surprising about this is that the texture and taste is basically the same as cooked traditionally.
- Save bread and speed up breadmaking. If you have stale bread, pop it into the microwave for a minute or two so you can eat it like new. For those trying to bake a loaf of bread or dinner rolls, you’ll be able to skip the proofing part and force your dough to rise by microwaving it for 2 to 3 minutes.
Extending the Life of Your Microwave
- When in doubt, don’t place any metal in your microwave oven. Of course, foil, microwavable metal trays, and metal parts built into microwavable food packaging are exemption to this rule.
- Clean your microwave oven inside and out regularly. Sometimes, food residue gets left behind and causes burnt smells when you microwave something else. Keep fragrance to a minimum since you’re technically cooking food inside the microwave and using floral-scented dishwashing liquids could stick to the microwave walls.
- Microwave ovens could overheat. Be aware that overheating is possible even with such a controlled heating designed for the microwave oven. If you feel that the microwave overheated way beyond the appropriate heat, have it fixed or replaced quickly. This is never a good sign.
Did you learn some cool tricks and must-know about your microwave oven? If you’re keeping yours on one of your kitchen cabinets and rarely use it,, maximize your kitchen space and use the oven as an extra storage for bread or other quick-to-eat food items.