Safe Microwave Cooking
Safe Microwave Cooking
Barbara Kafka (Chef and Cookbook Author) gives expert video advice on: Is it safe to microwave food only until it's partially done?; What's the best way to thaw frozen food in the microwave?; What's the best way to reheat cooked food in the microwave? and more...
Is it safe to microwave food only until it's partially done?
Yes! The Microwave oven is wonderful for sautéing, although not browning, also to make stock and other things. No food cooked by any method: oven, top of the stove or microwave should be undercooked. However foods can be partially cooked in a microwave and then finished by the so-called conventional methods. For example one can put a potato in the microwave partially cooking it and then finish it up in a conventional oven. Although it will be nothing like a "real" baked potato. It is basically alright to partially cook foods in the microwave and finish by other methods. (I might add: I "bake" potatoes in the microwave all the time and personally, I think they come out better, I just add a small amount of moisture)
What's the best way to thaw frozen food in the microwave?
The best way to thaw frozen food in the microwave is to disregard the instructions of the manufacturer. I like to store my food in microwaveable plastic containers. And I don't use very large ones, because if I want stock, the number of days I want a quart at a time are few and far between. So pint containers, even smaller for many kinds of foods, are more appropriate. You want to cover the food, just as if you were cooking the food, but take off lids of the microwave containers, otherwise they might make a mess. It will depend on the density of the food, how much liquid and how much solid it has, and what the solid is. For instance, if it has a lot of sugar, it will defrost much more quickly than a liquid will. If you're going to buy a TV dinner, may God bless you, but in addition, follow the instructions.
What's the best way to reheat cooked food in the microwave?
If you want to reheat cooked food in the microwave (leave us presume it was properly cooked the first time), it's obviously going to get somewhat overcooked as it will anyplace you reheat it. Certainly that is true of meat, beef, things like that, which you perfectly ruin in the microwave oven and it's a waste of good money. Stews, soups, things like that can be reheated. I suggest that you use the old-fashioned thing - bring to a boil and make sure to stir it once to make sure it has not got a frozen lump in the middle.
What containers are safe to use in the microwave?
It is safe to use containers that are marketed (because they are government controlled) as microwave safe. You can use almost all your china and ceramic dishes as long as they don't have a metallic glaze, i.e.: gold, silver, that orange which is copper and the blue which is cobalt. But white glassware, your old Pyrex standby, your measuring cup, all of those are perfectly wonderful microwavable containers.
Is it safe to use aluminum foil in a microwave?
Please, do yourself a favor, keep metal out of the microwave oven. There are one or two manufacturers who have made pans that are absolutely smooth with a rim that is rolled and doesn't close in on itself. But unless you absolutely know it is safe, don't use it. It does something called arking which is like having a miniature electric storm in your microwave. It can burn out your microwave oven. And the same thing is true for something as simple as aluminium foil. Instead, put plastic on it. Put paper towel that you fold over a couple of times. Put a lid on it. There are all kinds of covers you can use. Just don't get metal in there.