It is important to follow a guideline for using microwave oven since it is
one of the most important appliances in a modern kitchen. It enables us to cook,
defrost and reheat food faster than using a normal stove or oven.
It is also cleaner
and uses less utensil and makes full use of disposable containers often
found being used for serving and storing fast food. We can argue that this is
not eco-friendly or healthy but in the real world, more and more people use
these containers to reheat their food.
Here is a guideline using microwave
oven, including regarding safety and also some useful tips you can employ.
Guideline for using microwave oven - General Guidelines
Always use the glass turntable provided with your
microwave oven when cooking, reheating or defrosting.
Do not use any metal accessory, including the small
disposable aluminum foil pie dish you normally get when you buy prepared
chicken pie or apple pie. Remove the aluminum foil pie dish before putting
the pie on the glass turntable. Metal containers in a microwave will cause
arcing and will damage your oven's magnetron.
The dish being reheated will get hot, therefore always
use oven gloves when you remove the dish. Do not assume the heated dish is
not as hot as when you reheat using a conventional oven.
Use the correct power setting when you are reheating
whether high, medium or low according to the recipe. It is always better to
undercook than overcook and thus ruining the dish you are making. If it is
undercook, you can always add the cooking time.
Add in salt at the end of your cooking. Salt mixed
inside the dish in traditional ways will cause your meat or fish to be dry
when cooked with microwave.
Do not use a dish that is disproportionately larger than
the quantity of food being cooked.
Always ensure the cover of the dish is not tight. We
cover the dish to avoid splatter and also to prevent the food being dried
up. However, a tight cover will cause an explosion when the hot air in the
container cannot escape.
Microwave reheating, defrosting or cooking always
involve "standing time". When the power is turned off, food is still being
cooked from the heat inside itself, thus eliminating cold spots. Therefore,
standing time is a factor you must always consider.
Always pierce egg yolks when cooking them in the
Foods not suitable for cooking by microwave : Yorkshire
puddings, souffles and double crust pastry pies.
Guideline for using microwave oven - Defrosting
You will have to consider the weight and shape of food,
its density and also sizes when defrosting.
Separate chops and small items where possible.
Give large joints of meat further standing time to
ensure meat is not still icy in the center.
Break up small items like scallops or minced meat
halfway through defrosting.
Remove plastic wrappers from meat. Place on a microwave
rack or upturned saucer.
Shield edges, back fat of joints and thin edges of fish
with small pieces of SMOOTH tin foil to prevent over-defrosting.
Guideline for using microwave oven - Reheating
Follow the food manufacturer's instructions for
long-life foods, regarding transferring food to another container. Some are
suitable for reheating in their packaging once the lid is removed.
Take care when reheating items with high sugar content
fillings like mince pies. Even if the pastry is cold to the touch, the
filling will be piping hot. So, always underheat and return to the oven if
necessary to avoid burnt lips and tongue. Do not cover.
When reheating baby's milk in the bottle, CHECK the
temperature by squirting the milk at the back of your hand before feeding.
The bottle must be shaken thoroughly because the liquid at the top of the
bottle and in the center may be hotter than temperature felt when holding.
Before reheating, remove the top and the teat. For 3 fl oz, heat on HIGH
power for 20 seconds, for 7 fl oz, heat on HIGH for 30-40 seconds. Replace
teat and top, shake thoroughly and test.
Check that food is piping hot before serving and if it
is not hot enough, return to oven for further reheating.
Transfer canned foods from cans to a suitable microwave
safe container. Stir halfway during heating and again at the end of heating.
If the food cannot be stirred, use a knife to cut through the food to see
the steam escape, making sure it is piping hot.
It takes longer to reheat cold food taken from the
fridge than to reheat cold food at room temperature.
A quantity of food spread in a bigger dish cooks faster.
Small quantities cook faster than large quantities, also
small meals will reheat quicker than large portions.
Porous airy food like bread heats quicker than dense
heavy food like potatoes.
Guideline for using microwave oven - Positioning of
certain shapes of food
Place round meat balls at equal spacing on the outer
edge of the turntable.
Chicken thighs should be arranged so that the thicker
part is on the outer edge of the turntable.
It is advisable to rearrange the position of the food
halfway throughout cooking or reheating if the food size is big.
Vegetables like whole cauliflower should be placed
inside a bowl with the florets at the bottom of the bowl.
If the florets are cut, they are placed on the inside of
the turntable with their stalks on the outside, which require more heat to
Guideline for using microwave oven - Microwave safe
Styrofoam is not suitable for microwave use for its low
Always check that the container is microwave safe before
Cling film can be used as a cover replacement but pierce
the plastic before reheating. Always use cling film marked for microwave use
Pyrex, ceramic and glass containers are good for
If the container has no indication of it is microwave
safe or not, place half the container with water, heat on HIGH for 30
seconds, if the container is not hot to the touch, it is safe for
Guideline for using microwave oven stated above must be used
with a lot of common sense. Sometimes you have to familiarize yourself with all
the features in the oven manual and also do practical work with your oven. The
more you do, the better you will be and the guideline for using microwave oven
is simply to guide you to be a better operator for this kitchen appliance.