A microwave oven emits microwaves which cause food molecules to vibrate. This friction is what causes the heat in the microwave. This heat will get hot enough to kill all the bacteria in the foods cooked; however, there are a few limitations.
Often when microwaving your food, you will find you are left with "cold spots". These cold spots are uncooked food, which could contain surviving bacteria. A few microwave-savvy cooking suggestions will allow you to cook food safely and conveniently in your microwave.
Safe Practices for Microwave Cooking
- Cut the food you are cooking into uniform pieces so more edges are exposed during cooking.
- Always place thicker pieces of food near the outer edges of your cooking dish. (Outer areas receive more heat than inner).
- Cover the food with a microwave-safe lid or paper towel or napkin to trap the steam. This heat will help destroy bacteria and distribute the heat more evenly.
- Stir the food half-way during cooking time. This is the best way to ensure even cooking and death of bacteria!
- If your microwave does not have a rotating turntable, be sure to rotate your food halfway through cooking time.
- After your food is finished cooking, let it sit for a couple minutes. This is because the food will continue to cook. This will aid in uniform heating and killing of bacteria.
Wraps and Microwave-Safe Containers
When microwaving, you have to be sure you have a microwave-safe dish or container. Any dish or container that is not microwave-safe could melt and cause harmful contaminants to enter your food. The safest cookware to use would be some specifically stated to be microwave-safe, glass or ceramic.
Never use the following.
- Aluminum foil.
- Styrofoam or plastic plates.
- Storage containers such as margarine tubs and take-out containers.
- Plastic wraps (some have harmful chemicals that can leak into your food).
And What About Nutrients?
Microwaves do not destroy nutrients, but heat can cause a decrease in nutrients in some foods, while water can wash away some nutrients. However, this is true of any type of cooking. To date, there is no evidence that microwave cooking is in any way detrimental to your health.
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