How to use the microwave?
The microwave oven is now present in almost all homes and is mainly used to heat and defrost food. In fact, it can be used to do many other things, including steaming, softening butter, melting chocolate, boiling vegetables, drying herbs and aromatic plants and yet, being intended for non-culinary uses. But before listing all its possible destinations.
let’s make some clarifications and then we’ll see how to use the microwave oven.
What are microwaves?
Microwaves are electromagnetic waves produced by a special device called a magnetron. They produce the movement of some molecules present inside the food and this rubbing produces heat.
Which items can be placed in the microwave and which cannot?
You can use glass, ceramic or plastic containers suitable for use, while metal or crystal containers should not be used because they reflect microwaves and this could damage the oven. Even unsuitable plastic for microwaves cannot be inserted into it because it could melt or, worse still, release chemicals that are harmful to health.
What can be cooked in the microwave?
Surely and without a shadow of a doubt, the microwave oven is very useful for defrosting food and for reheating ready-made dishes (pizzas, pasta, ready meals, liquids such as milk and water for herbal teas). But it can also be used to cook dishes directly with the enormous advantage of not having to add a lot of fat to do so.
In the microwave you can cook meat, fish, vegetables and some types of desserts (those that involve leavening are excluded). On the other hand, eggs with shell (which could explode) are absolutely to be avoided and in general all foods with peel or skin, such as potatoes and tomatoes, must be pricked or peeled, because these too could explode. Finally, with the microwave you can not fry.
General tips for using the microwave.
1) If you have to reheat sauces and gravies, always remember to cover the container with a lid or with film suitable for the microwave, to avoid splashing.
2) To prevent food from drying out excessively, wrap them in cling film with holes in them to retain moisture.
3) For uniform cooking, cut the food into pieces of the same size and remember that the areas of the oven least reached by electromagnetic waves are the corners and the center, so it is better to use round containers and arrange the food so as to leave the center free .
4) Never insert hermetically sealed containers.
And now let’s see how to use the microwave oven in an alternative way.
- Disinfect sponges: The sponges come into contact with dirt and bacteria continuously and for this reason they are very contaminated. To disinfect them, put them in a container with water and vinegar or lemon and let them go to maximum power for about 5 minutes.
- Get more juice from oranges and lemons. Before squeezing the citrus fruits, heat them briefly (less than a minute) in the microwave so they will be softer and release more juice.
- Bring mascara back to life. To regenerate the dry mascara, just put it in the microwave for a minute at maximum power.
- Remove the wax from your clothes. Put the dirty garment in the microwave for a minute and remove the melted wax with a sponge or toothbrush.
- Sterilize canning jars. Wash the jars well and place them in the microwave while still wet. Run at full power for about 1 minute.
- Warm compresses for pain and inflammation. There are scarves and pillows for cervical and other inflammatory states on the market, designed to be heated in the microwave and then placed on the affected area to relieve tension and pain.
- Dry aromatic herbs. Mint, basil, parsley, rosemary and other aromatic herbs can be stored for a long time in glass jars. To do this, it is necessary to proceed with drying to eliminate all the moisture present in the leaves. The time required to do this depends on both the thickness of the leaf and the microwave power: on average 1 minute at maximum power or more time at lower power. In general, it is better to do some experiments to test your oven, making sure to always check the microwave during drying.
- Toast the dried fruit. Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and all dried fruit can be quickly toasted in the microwave.
- Steam the vegetables. Many vegetables can be steamed in the microwave or pre-cooked quickly to speed up traditional cooking. Cut the vegetables into small pieces and place them in a container suitable for the oven, add very little water (because the microwave uses the water present in the food), cover with a lid or with cling film and cook at maximum power for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the moisture from salt and sugar. In winter, salt and sugar tend to absorb all the moisture present in the surrounding environment, thus becoming a compact block. To remedy the problem, just pass the jar for a few seconds in the microwave, the water present will evaporate and the salt and sugar will return to their original form.
- Melt the butter and chocolate. As an alternative to cooking in a bain-marie, when you need to soften or melt the butter and chocolate for our sweet and savory preparations, you can use the microwave.
- For the butter it takes 20 seconds at maximum power to soften it, for the chocolate you have to proceed step by step because you risk burning it. Run the microwave at maximum power for about 20 seconds.
- Open the oven, mix the chocolate and heat for another 20 seconds at maximum power. Proceed in this way for another 3-4 times or in any case until the chocolate is melted.
- Peel garlic and onion more easily. It takes 20 seconds in the microwave to peel them more easily and as for the onion, this procedure will also help you not to cry when you cut them.
- Express french fries. Just cut the potatoes into very thin slices, wash them, dry them and arrange them on a plate without overlapping them, season them with a drizzle of oil (optional) and cook them at maximum power for about 3 minutes per side.
- Melt the crystallized honey. To give new life to crystallized honey, just put it in the microwave for 30 seconds at maximum power.
- Cooking poached eggs. Fill a cup up to halfway and break an egg into it. Cover with a saucer or microwave-safe film and cook for about 40 seconds at maximum power.
- Prepare some crispy bacon. Arrange the bacon slices on a plate and cook for about 3 minutes. Always check the food during cooking.
- Express soaking for legumes. Generally, before cooking the legumes, it is necessary to proceed with a preventive and long soak (overnight). When you don’t have all this time, you can proceed to an express soak thanks to the microwave.
- Put the legumes in a container full of water with a teaspoon of baking soda. Operate the microwave at maximum power for about 15 minutes and then leave the legumes to soak for the successes 30 minutes. Proceed to cooking them as usual.
- Warm up the dishes before eating. In restaurants they often serve the dishes in hot plates so as not to let the food cool quickly. Same thing the bars do with the coffee cups. Well, you can do the same at home using your microwave. To do this, simply insert the slightly wet dishes and operate at maximum power for one minute.