Microwave Cooking and Food Safety

Microwave Cooking and Food Safety

Microwave ovens have been an essential appliance in our kitchen for decades. But there are still many issues that need clarification.

So, in this article, we aim to answer important questions such as:

  • Why cover food in microwave?
  • Are plastic microwave covers safe?
  • How to properly thaw raw meat?
  • Is reheating food in microwave healthy?
  • Why does food explode in the microwave? 

Principles of Microwave Cooking

Microwave ovens work by converting electricity into electromagnetic radiation, which is called microwaves. Hence, the name of this kitchen appliance.

The tiny waves bounce back and forth inside the oven and go through the container and into the food. Once they reach the food, these microwaves excite the water molecules in it, making them move around wildly and collide with each other. Much like a wild mosh pit at a concert.

The kinetic energy from the movement of the molecules is then converted into heat. This process is what generates heat and warms up your food.

While microwaves mostly stimulate water molecules, they also affect the sugar and fat molecules in food. So, if you’re microwaving food that is oily or contains a lot of sugar, it will heat up pretty fast. 

Microwave Do's and Don'ts Everyone Should Know

You’ve probably heard a lot of cautionary stories and warnings about the use of microwaves. To dispel any doubts and fear of using a microwave oven, we’ve compiled a very helpful list of the microwave oven do’s and don’ts.

  • Do only use ceramic, glass, or microwave-safe containers and covers

The chemical components of the container and lid may get into your food as you microwave it. These can be toxic and cause food poisoning.

Are plastic microwave covers safe?

Not all 100% Food Grade plastics can be used in the microwave oven. Some can be toxic when exposed to microwaves or even melt from high temperatures.

So, always check your container and lid for the label that it is microwaveable or microwave-safe and that it is BPA-free. That’s when you’re sure it’s safe.

What are the safe things to microwave?

Generally, containers made of glass or ceramic are safe to use in the microwave. The non-porous surface of these microwave cooking containers means they will not leak chemicals nor absorb any food residue. They are also good at handling heat, so they won’t suddenly melt or crack and contaminate your food.

  • Don’t Put Metals Inside Your Microwave Oven

Microwaves heat up your food by moving through the container and into your food. If you use a metal container, a material that deflects microwaves, the waves will bounce off of the metal and will not reach the food to heat it up properly.

Aside from that, metals tend to get hot fast. Thin metal, like an aluminum foil, can suddenly spark and combust if heated inside the microwave oven.

To always be on the safe side, remove any foil, spoons, forks, and serving spoons from your food before putting it inside the microwave oven.

  • Don’t Thaw Raw Meat

There is a Defrost setting on your microwave, but experts advise against thawing raw meat in it.

Using the microwave seems like the best method of defrosting frozen meat. It’s the fastest method available. So, why do doctors and professors say otherwise?

Traditional thawing on the counter at room temperature breeds a lot of bacteria. But, so does microwaving. It can leave juices in your oven that will host these harmful microorganisms and cause food poisoning on your next meal.

In addition to that, as previously mentioned, the microwave doesn’t heat food evenly. The meat may already be thawed and cooking on the outside but still frozen hard on the inside. When not thawed properly, bacteria can reproduce. 

How to properly thaw raw meat?

To properly thaw frozen meat, fish, or poultry, let it defrost for hours inside the fridge or in cold water in your sink.

  • Don’t Cook Food Without a Cover

You may have encountered instructions on microwaveable containers that say that you should open the lid before using in the microwave. This is to prevent steam and pressure build-up inside the container which can cause accidental explosions and burns.

You might then ask yourself, should you cover your food in the microwave oven? And, is it safer to just cook without covering food in a microwave oven?

The answer to those questions is that it is still better to cover your food as you microwave it. However, you should always use a microwave-safe lid. Here’s why…

The most obvious reason is that a microwave oven food cover prevents splatter inside your microwave oven. If left uncovered, food particles will spray all over the inside of your oven. The next time you cook food, the food stuff that may have already gathered some bacteria may drip down into your food.

Another reason to microwave with a lid on is to keep the nutrients and minerals in your food. When food is steamed, which is what happens when cooking with a lid, the nutrients are sealed in. This makes your food more nutritious and healthier than when using any other method of cooking.

So, if you’ve ever wondered, is reheating food in microwave healthy?

The answer is Yes. If you put a lid on it

  • Do Heat Your Food Evenly

When heating food in a microwave, the temperature must reach 75 degrees Celsius all over. This guarantees that your food is safe from harmful bacteria.

But you may have noticed that the bowl of pasta you’ve just microwaved isn’t warm in the center. This is because the waves did not reach that part of the food as they are bouncing around even with the help of the rotating plate.

To remedy this uneven heating, you should pause the heating procedure to stir the food before resuming the total recommended cook time. This helps distribute the heat and expose the parts that have not been warmed yet.

A neat trick that people have shared on the internet is to put your food on a plate and then make a crater in the middle of it. The hollow space in the middle will ensure that all parts of the food will get exposed to the waves and is heated evenly.

  • Do Clean Your Microwave Oven

Even when using a lid while microwaving, the steam that escapes still carry oil and food particles. When left uncleaned, it is ripe for the breeding of bacteria.

So, make it a habit to wipe the inside of your microwave oven clean. Use a clean paper towel instead of a cloth rag to make sure that you’re not just scattering bacteria. 

Microwave Cover Benefits

There is a lot of microwave stuff out there that is cheap. But the safest microwave cover that will take your microwaving to the next level is Duo Cover. Here are the reasons why we say this:

  • Keeps Food from Drying Out

This great microwave lid keeps your food moist and tender like it was freshly cooked again thanks to its MoistureLock™️ technology. It also seals in the flavor and nutrients for a healthier meal.

You can even add a bit of water to make food, like pizza and bagels, get good texture once more.

  • Helps Kill Harmful Bacteria

Rest your fears of food poisoning forever. Duo Cover’s ability to heat food fast and evenly assures you that there is no time or place for bacteria to hide and multiply.

  • Prevents Splatter of Food

Using cling wrap to cover your food when microwaving just adds plastic waste. But with Duo Cover, you can keep your oven clean while keeping our planet clean as well.

  • Makes Cleaning a Lot Easier

Because you can heat food splatter-free, your oven is squeaky clean in just a few wipes. Also, Duo Cover is dishwasher-safe. Just chuck it in the dishwasher after your meal.

  • Helps Heat Food Evenly

Duo Cover’s MoistureLock™️ system traps the steam in to evenly heat your food fast. This helps keep your food warm and bacteria-free. 

Is It Safe to Microwave Food Without Cover?

No. Microwaving without using a cover exposes your oven to splatters and your food to potentially harmful bacteria from these leftover food bits. 

Why Does Food Explode in the Microwave?

Microwaves stimulate the water molecules inside your food. Thick soups, oatmeal, potatoes, and pasta sauce, for example, has a lot of liquid inside. So when the molecules quickly heat up but there is no means for the steam to escape, the pressure will build up causing the food to eventually explode.

That is why it is advised to poke holes in potatoes before microwaving and stir thick liquids halfway through heating. 

To Wrap Up

The microwave oven is a kitchen marvel that everyone is lucky to have. Meal prep is made fast and convenient with this appliance.

It certainly isn’t perfect, though. But with the help of some tips and a Duo Cover for your plate or microwave-safe lid for your cup, you can get all the benefits without the drawbacks.
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