July 24, 2014

Guidelines for Safe Microwave Use

Microwaves are so common a household appliance and have been in homes for so many years, most of us can’t remember a time when we weren’t “zapping” our food. Still, using an appliance daily, we can get careless with how we use it. These guidelines can help you “zap” safely.

Cookware, containers and wraps

Only use cookware that is specially labeled for use in the microwave oven. Never use cookware that has metal in its composition.

Use microwave-safe plastic wraps, wax paper, cooking bags, parchment paper, glass, ceramic containers and white microwave-safe paper towels.

Silicone products can handle heat, and work well. But check product labeling before using silicone bakeware.

Don’t use plastic storage containers such as margarine tubs, take-out containers, and other one-time use containers because they may contain polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, which becomes soft and pliable, possibly allowing chemicals to transfer to food.

Never use thin plastic storage bags, brown paper or plastic grocery bags, newspapers, or aluminum foil.

Do not let plastic wrap touch foods while cooking.

Reheating

A microwave does not always cook evenly. Minimize any cool or hot spots by occasionally stirring during the heating process.

If you don’t have a rotating plate in your microwave, stirring is even more important as microwaves cook from the center, out.

Place a plain white paper towel (not brands made with recycled or colored paper printed with dyes), a white paper plate or microwave-safe lid over the food. That helps hold in moisture and contains any bubbling over or popping, splashing food – and extra cleaning time.

Cooking

Never deep-fry food. The temperature can get too high, creating a flash point.

The microwave is perfect for baking those last-minute potatoes. Use a fork to poke holes in the potato before cooking. Bake an average-size potato about 10 minutes or until soft to the touch, turning halfway through. Finish up in the oven for a crispy skin.

Defrosting

Remove food from packaging before defrosting. Do not use foam trays and plastic wraps because they are not heat-stable. Melting or warping may cause harmful chemicals to migrate into food.

Plan on immediately cooking foods that you defrost in the microwave. Do not pre-defrost food; some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during defrosting, and may speed bacteria development.

Use these tips along with your own common sense for safe microwave cooking. Also, when in doubt, check the user’s manual that comes with every microwave.