When it comes to reheating food, we’re used to popping something into the microwave, throwing it in for a minute or two and voila! Reheated food, fast. But did you know that there are a variety of microwave settings that can make your food taste even better? How about cooking full parts of a meal instead of just defrosting? When it comes to microwave uses, this appliance deserves to be less of an afterthought and more of a front-and-center part of cooking your meals.
Most microwaves come with two power settings: high and low. In many cases, the low setting is used for defrosting and the high microwave setting can both fry and steam your food. Use these guidelines when cooking your meal and you can shave off minutes—or even hours—of your cook time.
In the event your microwave does not follow "high" or "low" power settings, your best bet is to look on the inside door of your microwave to determine the wattage of your microwave. From there, determine what 25%, 50% and 75% of the wattage is and correspond those to the power settings.
Are there buttons on your microwave that you don't exactly know what they mean? The first thing you should do is consult the manual you received when you first bought your microwave. However, many come with the following settings for popular microwave uses:
Steaming food is the best way to keep in nutrients, color and the natural flavor of the food. Because microwaves heat the water molecules in the food, using a microwave to steam vegetables is considered by some the healthiest - and easiest - way to cook them. When steaming vegetables, a good rule of thumb to follow is that the smaller the piece, the more evenly it will cook. Cut large vegetables into smaller, more manageable pieces so that you can serve them easier and fit them on your fork.
Once you've gotten your vegetables down to a reasonable size, arrange the larger pieces around the outside of the dish and the smaller pieces toward the center. You'll want to make sure you're using a bowl or plate that is both microwave-safe and not deep so that the vegetables are able to remain flat. Add about a quarter to a half cup of water, cover the bowl with a heavy plate or lid, and set the microwave on high for 2-3 minutes. Of course, microwave time will vary depending on the vegetable and the amount you're cooking. Be sure to check in every so often to make sure you're not overcooking your vegetables!
For more microwave tips on everything from softening old honey to using a lemon to remove dried food, check out our blog post on unique microwave hacks.