The Microwave is a convenient cooking tool that allows you to quickly heat or cook certain foods. It is a modern invention that has certainly found its place in almost every home or apartment, but did you know that not every food item or culinary device can be microwaved? There are quite a few staple foods and utensils that, if put in the microwave, can cause a fire or explosion, and release harmful toxins into the human body. If you find yourself using your microwave daily, then you may want to keep on reading. We are about to discuss the top 15 things not to microwave, so you, and your loved ones, can avoid microwave mishaps.
Let’s start with the plastic container – we all have them kicking around the house. But, while they may be convenient, plastic containers can be hazardous if put in the microwave. Many plastics contain BPA, which if ingested enough, can imitate the body’s hormones and actually hamper with secretions, and interfere with the function and transport of natural hormones. When plastic is heated, the BPA leeches into whatever food you are heating up inside the container.
If you like to store food in plastic containers, then do so in the fridge and heat up the contents on a plate to avoid the harmful effects of heating plastic. Better yet, ditch the plastic containers and buy glass ones instead. You will not only be doing your food a favor, but the environment as well; plastic affects the ocean, wildlife, and the environment.
Eggs are a great breakfast, lunch, and dinner food, which explains why they are so popular. They are also a food that you do not want to cook in the microwave due to the bacteria that they can contain, called salmonella – a harmful bacteria that can cause stomach upset and fever. Eggs should always be cooked in the oven or in a frying pan so that bacteria are exposed to a high temperature and killed. Cooking eggs in a microwave could result in the egg being uncooked and the individual getting food poisoning from eating it. Moreover, if you cook the egg in its shell in the microwave, the high-pressure steam emitted from the microwave can cause the egg to explode, which creates a mess and is dangerous.
Related: 12 Creative Egg Tray Hacks You Never Thought to Try
Fruit is a nutritious food to eat every single day, and it is also a food that should never be microwaved. Heating fruit at a high temperature is only going to lead to a fruity explosion in your microwave that you will have to scrub out for hours. Moreover, the heat will soften your fruit and make it too hot and mushy to consume. The safer route, if you are wanting to make baked pears or apples, is to use the oven. The oven will allow you to slowly and safely heat the fruit so that there is no explosion or disappointment in taste.
Related: How to Select Fresh and Ripe Fruit – Part 2
Aluminum foil, as well as forks or knives, do not mix well with the microwave. Simply explained, aluminum foil can begin to spark as soon as the microwave is turned on and can start a fire. Always remove the foil on any food before heating to avoid this mishap. It is also an important thing to tell children and young chefs in the home about who may start cooking on their own; it is an easy mistake anyone can make.
This green vegetable loses a lot of nutrients when tossed in the microwave. A fresh piece of broccoli contains vitamin A and K, fibre, cancer-beater sulforaphane, and folic acid which are all lost when nuked in the microwave. An alternative to cooking broccoli in the microwave is steaming it for a few minutes; the broccoli comes out crisp and does not lose all of its nutrients.
Microwaving any grain of bread will only result in a chewy or soggy mess. It does not matter if it is a loaf of bread, sandwich, dinner rolls, or pizza, the dough will soften and create a sloppy disaster. If you are looking to create a grilled cheese, try using the oven or a grill, rather than the microwave that will not only melt the cheese but melt the bread too. You can even reheat bread or dinner rolls in a slower cooker! There are many ways to heat up bread rather than using the microwave, so give one of these alternatives a try.
Processed meats, like hotdogs, bacon, beef jerky, canned Meat or deli slices, do not belong in the microwave. Research has found that microwaving these kinds of processed meats can cause the development of cholesterol oxidation products, which have been connected to coronary heart disease. Processed meat is already a food to enjoy in limited quantities, so why make it worse for your health by microwaving it? Stick to boiling or grilling hot dogs and other meats.
Cooked rice, both brown and white, that is left at room temperature for a while can cause food poisoning. Did you know this? Well, you do now. Uncooked rice has spores of bacteria in it that can cause food poisoning, and even when the rice is cooked, the spores can remain alive. Therefore, reheating rice in the microwave does not get rid of the toxins in it, which means you are putting yourself at risk of getting food poisoning.
Celery, Spinach, and Beets
These three healthy vegetables can become not so healthy when reheated in the microwave. This is because they contain nitrates that become carcinogenic when reheated. It is not that the nitrate itself is harmful, but when it is heated it eventually converts to nitrosamines which are carcinogenic. When consumed in large quantities, nitrites can disrupt the hemoglobin in the body from working properly. It is best to enjoy celery, spinach, and beets raw, pickled, steamed, or baked in the oven.
Mushrooms are packed with phosphorus, copper, and potassium that are all beneficial to the human body. This vegetable is best eaten right when picked or bought, as proteins can deteriorate fast. Additionally, mushrooms can rapidly lose their nutrients and become overcooked in a microwave. It is best to reheat mushrooms or cook them in the oven, so that you can control the heat. Another mushroom tip is to never leave them at room temperature because unwanted bacteria can grow.
Caution: Fire Hazard. The chemical, capsaicin, which is found in hot peppers can start a fire in the microwave if heated. Not only that, if a fire does not occur, the capsaicin will still burn your eyes and throat when you open the microwave door after heating the hot peppers. The capsaicin gets into the air and there is really no way to avoid it. The best way to cook hot peppers is to eat them fresh (or leave them at the store).
Pasta or Oil-Based Sauces
Leftover spaghetti is always a delicious meal, but reheating pasta sauce in the microwave is not. The thick consistency of the sauce, thanks to the tomatoes, makes it very challenging for particles to move around, and results in a build-up of pressure that causes a splat in the microwave. Now you are stuck cleaning up your sauce instead of eating it.
The best way to reheat pasta sauce is in a pot on the stove; you can slowly reheat it and monitor the temperature better. Oil-based sauces like olive oil and pesto or aglio olio sauce, are just as much of a danger to heat in the microwave as tomato sauce. The microwave unsafely heats the oil and can cause it to spatter all over the place, even on you as you open the door. Microwaves do not mix well with pasta sauce or oil-based sauce because there is nowhere for the steam to be released and it can burn the skin if they make contact.
Grapes and Raisins
This sweet fruit does not act so sweet in the microwave. In fact, grapes can ignite when microwaved and blow up full of hot plasma. Even raisins, the family member of the grape, are known to smoke and blow when microwaved. The reason why this fruit does not do well in the microwave has a lot to do with its high sugar content. As the temperature rises in the microwave and the sugar melts, smoke begins to emit and that is when there is trouble. If you plan on heating grapes, do so in the oven or on the stove at a very low temperature, and remember to never microwave them.
Related: How to Select Fresh and Ripe Fruit – Part 2
Frozen Meat & Fresh Meat
The microwave is a great way to unthaw a piece of meat when you want to throw it on the BBQ or straight into the oven. However, the uneven distribution of heat in the microwave causes some parts of the meat to stay frozen and some to completely unthaw. Not only does this create awkward cooking times for the meat, but also bacteria that can grow.
The best way to unthaw meat is in the refrigerator, as the cold temperature will allow the meat to safely unthaw. If you are short for time, ensure that if you do unthaw meat in the microwave that you immediately cook it afterwards and cook it thoroughly. When it comes to fresh meat, you should never microwave it to cook it. It may seem convenient to throw a chicken breast on high in the microwave to cook it, but the risk of salmonella is too high to risk it. The oven, BBQ, and frying pan are the only places the chicken can safely cook to remove bacteria for consumption.
Regular Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
Potatoes lose a lot of nutrients when nuked in the microwave, as well as the ability to stay together. Yes, this means they are known for exploding when heated under high temperatures. To avoid an exploding potato, poke several holes in it before microwaving. When it comes to reheating potatoes, this can be just as dangerous. Potatoes can harbor botulism and other bacteria when reheated after being left at room temperature once cooked. As the cooked potato cools down to room temperature, botulism can start to grow and make the consumer extremely ill.
The best thing to do with potatoes after cooking them is to eat them right away or refrigerate. As far as sweet potatoes go, they are frequently seen tossed in the microwave by dieters and chefs to create a healthy, fast meal. However, extra caution needs to be taken with the sweet potato as well, as they can easily explode if not poked prior to microwaving. And, the skin on the potato is extremely hot to the touch after microwaving, so remember this before you start playing an unwanted game of hot potato in your kitchen.
Similar to how not all foods are created equal, not all foods are able to be cooked or reheated in the microwave. It is extremely important to inform everyone in the home about this list to avoid any fires or unfortunate cooking incidences. The microwave is a great cooking mechanism that allows the right food to cook or reheat, and despite many myths about it being an unsafe device that causes cancer, it is in fact a great way to get a quick meal or prepare food. The next time you find yourself wanting to heat something up, do a quick check that the food is not on this list. And, when in doubt, keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
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