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  Index to more 10 Commandments

... for Microwave Safety

  1. Don't overheat or overcook items.  It increases the chances of burning yourself, ruining the food or setting the microwave on fire.  When in doubt, cook in short bursts, checking items frequently.
  2. Wait for a moment before removing hot food from the oven.  This avoids boil-over and explosive situations; see Microwave Madness.    Don't add anything such as sugar or a tea bag to freshly microwaved liquids while holding the cup in your hand or having it near your face.
  3. Prick egg yolks or items with tight skins such as potatoes, eggplants, sausages.   It helps avoid an explosion.  Don't try to microwave a whole egg in its shell!
    Cover items likely to splatter or jump out of the dish, such as beans.  Don't use plastic wrap unless it's designed for microwave, and even then, don't let it touch the food because of the possibility chemicals could be transferred into your food.    Better yet, cover with another microwave-proof dish or a microwave plate cover designed for that purpose.
  4. All paper products are manufactured with chemicals.  Never use grocery bags, paper plates, newspapers, butcher's wrap or other paper items to heat food.  The microwave can cause chemicals in these products to transfer into your food.  Use white paper towels only if the label states they are microwave safe.  Wax paper, parchment paper and oven cooking bags are safe to use.  Don't overheat!
  5. Plastics melt, and most contain VERY TOXIC chemicals.  These toxins are sealed into the plastic, but microwaving may release them.  Guess where they go?   Into your food!  Never let plastic wrap touch your food.  Use only microwave plastic wrap to cover dishes, or use a microwave plate cover or another inverted dish.   Never reheat in Styrofoam, margarine tubs, whipped topping bowls or other plastic containers.  If you use reheatable disposable microwave containers, discard them afterwards; don't reuse.   When using microwavable plastic containers, NEVER use with fatty, greasy or very sugary foods.   Reheat briefly only, and don't overheat.  
     
  6. If your dishes (serving bowls, plates, mugs, cups, etc.) contain any lead at all, leaching of lead into your food is accelerated in a microwave.  Utilize glass such as Pyrex or Corningware to cook food (and even to heat food, especially greasy, sugary or acid foods) whenever possible for greater safety and peace of mind.
  7. Never place metal items such as aluminum foil, steel or aluminum containers, utensils or wire ties in the microwave.  It can damage the oven.
  8. I don't recommend cooking meats, egg or cheese dishes, custards or breads in the microwave as a general rule. (If you're happy with the results, however, that's what matters.)  The microwave process shortens and tightens the protein, or the gluten in wheat, drying and toughening the product.  There's exceptions, but usually a tender, more flavorful dish can be done using conventional heat.   Reheat breads very briefly, wrapped in a damp paper towel.   Meats are best reheated briefly, covered, on lower power if possible.
  9. If something in your microwave catches on fire, don't open it or throw water on it.   Hit the stop button, unplug it quickly, stand by with a kitchen fire extinguisher just in case (you do have one, don't you?) and let it burn itself out.  It may damage your oven but it shouldn't burn you or ruin your kitchen that way.   Never use a microwave with a damaged or misaligned door or seal. You can find replacement parts online.
  10.  Make sure children understand the rules about using a microwave.  In many ways, using one is safer for them than using a stove, but it has its own very real dangers.
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