Microwave ovens are typically used to heat and reheat food. However, there are many more tasks this versatile kitchen appliance can do.
You can use it for baking, defrosting, cooking or steaming ingredients, making popcorn, softening butter, melting chocolate, preparing beverages, and making quick meals.
You can also use disinfect items, rehydrate dry bread, or even soften ice cream and honey in a microwave.
Let’s explore each of these uses in closer detail.
1. Heating Food
One of the main uses of a microwave oven is to heat food. It performs this task much faster than traditional convention ovens.
To heat food, transfer the food to a microwave-safe utensil and place it inside the microwave oven.
Close the door and set the cooking time using the control panel. Switch on the microwave and wait for the food to heat.
Microwave ovens are widely used to reheat leftovers. It makes it easy to use up the excess food that you store in the refrigerator.
The reheating process is the same as regular heating.
But the main benefit is that you don’t have to wait for the food to reach room temperature to reheat it.
You can directly place it from the refrigerator inside the microwave oven and warm it.
Defrosting frozen items usually takes hours on the countertop. Alternatively, if you choose to defrost something in the fridge, you would have to leave it overnight.
However, it’s much easier to defrost food in a microwave.
Most microwave ovens have a dedicated setting for this purpose.
By running the microwave oven in this mode, you can defrost frozen items like meat, vegetables, bread, cooked meals, and more in mere minutes.
You can cook all types of food, like vegetables, meat, and fruits, in a microwave oven.
You can use this device to both cook meals from scratch or do parts of the cooking before combining them with the rest of the ingredients on the stovetop.
It’s a healthy and fast alternative to stovetop cooking. But, when cooking in a microwave, it’s important to use only microwave-safe containers or bowls for the purpose.
Microwave cooking takes less time. So you should factor this in and adjust the settings accordingly.
You can use the microwave oven to bake anything that you make in a regular oven.
The process takes lesser time. So adjust the setting accordingly to prevent the contents from overcooking or getting burnt.
The color of cakes, muffins, and other baked goods will differ when you use a microwave oven. It lacks the characteristic brown color and stays white.
But you can use a microwave oven to make anything ranging from cakes, muffins, pies, crumble, shortcakes, and brownies.
It’s easy to steam vegetables and meat for different recipes in a microwave oven.
This is a quick and easy way to lock the nutrients inside the oven while retaining the expected texture.
To steam ingredients, place them in enough water and run a normal cycle. If required, you can pause the cooking mid-way, take the vegetables out, and stir it.
Since steaming in the microwave takes less time compared to stovetop cooking, adjust the cooking time accordingly.
7. Making Popcorn
Some microwave ovens have a dedicated popcorn-making function. This makes it very easy to obtain perfectly popped kernels every time you crave popcorn.
To make popcorn in a microwave oven, place the bag of kernels inside the chamber.
Press the designated button and wait till the popcorn is ready. It will usually not take more than a few minutes.
Let the popcorn remain inside the oven for a few minutes after it switches off before taking it out.
8. Softening Butter
The butter kept in the fridge becomes hard. It’s not easy to spread immediately. You can quickly soften it in the microwave.
However, you should be careful about the time setting. The intense heat of the microwave will speed up the melting process, and you can end up with a liquid.
It can also be super-hot and prone to splattering. To prevent this from happening, operate the microwave oven in short bursts. Open the door and stir the butter in between.
9. Melting Chocolate
Just like softening butter, you can also melt chocolate in the microwave oven.
Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe dish inside the chamber. Then, operate the microwave in bursts.
Open the door and stir the chocolate in between. This will improve the texture of the melted chocolate and prevent it from burning and drying out.
10. Preparing Beverages
If your morning tea or coffee has gone cold, you can quickly reheat it in the microwave oven.
Alternatively, you can mix all the ingredients for your beverage and heat it inside the microwave oven.
Take care to place it inside a microwave-safe dish. Also, remember that liquids heated in a microwave are prone to superheating.
When this happens, there may be no bubbles in the liquid. However, it may be very hot and splatter when suddenly agitated. This is very dangerous.
To avoid it, add a wooden spoon or microwave-safe spatula inside to prevent it from superheating and splattering.
11. Making Quick Meals
You can easily make microwave meals in a microwave oven, like microwaveable dinners and pre-packaged meals.
You can also use it to cook instant noodles or oatmeal.
Hence, a microwave oven can provide a convenient solution for busy individuals or those lacking extensive cooking skills.
12. Disinfect Items
Household items like baby bottles, pacifiers, and toys can be safely sterilized and disinfected in a microwave oven.
For this, check the manufacturer’s label on the item for sterilization. Place the item in the microwave with a suitable quantity of water for sterilization.
You can also sterilize your kitchen sponges and cleaning items in the microwave oven.
To do this, place the sponge in water with a dash of vinegar or lemon juice and run it in the oven for a minute. This will eliminate the germs and disinfect the item.
13. Rehydrate Dry Bread
Stale bread or bread that is left in the refrigerator is hard and inedible. You can give it a fresh lease of life by re-hydrating it in the microwave oven.
Cover the bread with a damp kitchen towel and put it in the microwave for ten seconds.
Check if it’s soft. If not, repeat the process as many times as necessary till the bread is soft and consumable.
14. Soften Ice Cream
Ice cream can sometimes end up hard and difficult to scoop. To make it easy to scoop out of the container, just run it in the microwave for a few seconds.
It should soften it just enough to remove with a scoop.
However, make sure that the container is microwave-safe before doing so.
15. Soften Honey
Honey crystallizes and thickens in cold weather. To restore it to its original consistency, transfer the honey to a bowl.
Quickly microwave it for a few seconds, and it should soften and change consistency.