16 February 2022
When microwave ovens were first introduced, they were advertised as being able to prepare an entire meal in minutes instead of hours. However, consumers realized that meats will cook thoroughly but not present with the nice, brown color we are used to. Today we primarily use microwaves to reheat food, boil water, or melt butter.
However, there are actually a number of other legitimate uses for your appliance.
- Instead of buying packaged dried herbs for seasonings, make your own. During the summer when you have an abundance, or at the end of the season, place a single layer of leaves between two paper towels. Nuke on high for one minute. Allow to cool and package. This works very nicely for parsley, basil, and celery.
- Similarly you can toast nuts or seeds. Spread them on a microwave-safe dish and add about half a teaspoon of oil or butter for each cup of nuts or seeds. Heat on high for about a minute. You know they are done when you notice that wonderful aroma. However, be cautious. Nuts and seeds can burn easily. You may choose to zap them in 15 second increments to be safe.
- You can sanitize a kitchen sponge. Put a damp or wet (so it won’t burn) sponge in the microwave for about a minute on high. Be sure it does not have a metallic scrub pad or you will see arcing. Another method calls for placing the sponge in a bowl of water with a dash of vinegar or lemon juice; nuke for a minute on high. Cutting boards can also be sanitized by rubbing a slice of lemon on the cutting side after the board is cleaned of any food particles.
- Speaking of lemons. If you would like to get the most juice out, micro it for about a minute or less and it will be so soft you can get that last drop out.
- If you are in the mood for a sandwich but find the bread is a little too stale for your liking, cover the slices or whole loaf (out of its plastic wrap) with a clean, water soaked kitchen towel. Zap it for 10 seconds. Repeat if the bread is not sufficiently rehydrated. Do the same with potato chips that have lost their crunch.
- Hair oil and some other beauty products can become hard and difficult to extract. Zap it for about 20 seconds and the oil will re-liquefy and be easier to use. Similarly with leg wax, you can warm it for a few seconds if it cools down too much while working on your legs.
- Some medical aids like gel packs for headaches can be warmed for a better effectiveness. Soak a clean hand towel in water and warm it in the microwave for a warm compress.
Check all labels to be sure the items are microwave safe. The number “5” indicates it is safe to use. Foam containers can melt and never heat metal. Some plastic wraps have chemicals that can affect your food. If you have a choice, opt for a round container versus a square one and the food will heat more evenly if it is cut in equal-sized pieces.