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How to Safely Reheat / Cook in Microwaves

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The waves produced by a microwave oven dissipate on entry into food, meaning that no waves or radiation remain in the food. Hence, cooking food in a microwave is not harmful to health.
  • Water should not be boiled in a microwave. The heat produced has the potential to stay in the water without boiling over. Therefore, when ingredients such as coffee or sugar are added to the water, it can lead to the liquid reacting with dangerous consequences.
  • Foods with a shell, such as eggs, or containers with a tightly fitting lid, should not be placed in microwaves. When the heat enters the food, it can cause expansion and steam that may lead to an explosion.

 

Cook in Microwaves

In this modern, high-speed age that we live in, with all its numerous devices designed for convenience, the humble microwave oven is a piece of kitchen equipment that not only heats our food, but can also play a part in cooking meals in a way that produces results which hardly differ in quality and taste from food cooked in any other modern kitchen appliance. However, have you ever wondered about the safety aspects involved in heating or cooking your food in a microwave?

Microwaves cook or heat food through the release of electromagnetic waves (that are also used for radio and television transmissions) and ordinary light waves at a frequency of 2,450 MHz. When these waves come into contact with the food or any substance that contains liquid or moisture, an energy transfer occurs in the liquid’s molecules that leads to the molecules moving around and colliding. The resulting heat is able to cook or heat that food quickly and without damage to the food’s structure.

Is it true that microwaves are harmful to our health? Or is this just a myth?

The waves produced by a microwave oven dissipate on entry into food, meaning that no waves or radiation are trapped in the food cooked inside them. For this reason, cooking food in a microwave is not harmful to health, and cooking in a microwave does not reduce the quality of the food any more than other forms of cooking or heating. Therefore, regularly cooking or heating your food in a microwave will not have any negative effects on your health. However, when reheating food that has been cooked the previous day, you need to be certain that it has not gone off because this could lead to a bout of diarrhea.

Does it reduce the food’s quality?

No matter which method is used, the nutrients contained in that food are affected any time heat is applied to food. If microwaves are used correctly, the nutrients contained in that food will not be affected any differently to when food is cooked normally. The factor which causes food quality to deteriorate is the application of heat and the length of time it is cooked.

Is staring into the microwave dangerous to your eyesight?

Due to microwaves being specially designed to prevent against the waves used from escaping the microwave itself, they are considered to be a completely safe electrical appliance. As for the light seen while the microwave is operational, it is merely a light bulb used to allow people to see what is happening inside. Hence, looking into a microwave or being close by as it is operating is not a danger to health as some people tend to think.

Best practice for heating / cooking in a microwave

  • Water should not be boiled in a microwave, as it is partial to reaching a temperature higher than its boiling point, referred to as “superheating”. When ingredients are added, such as coffee or sugar, the liquid may react violently and splash out with dangerous consequences.
  • Choose containers that are suitable for use in microwaves. Be careful to always avoid all forms of metal or containers with silver, gold or metal beadings. This is because the microwaves are unable to proliferate metal, leading to the waves being reflected and refracted with potentially dangerous consequences.
  • Ensure that you clean the inside of your microwave regularly to avoid the buildup of oils which can inhibit the trajectory of the waves and potentially cause a fire.
  • Foods with a shell, such as eggs, or containers with a tightly fitting lid should not be placed in microwaves. When the heat enters the food, it can cause expansion and steam that may lead to an explosion. A plastic film can be used or a fork to pierce the top of the food to allow the food to expand as it is heated up.
  • If cooking from frozen or reheating a dish, make sure that the food has been stored correctly and hasn’t already expired before you heat it up in the microwave.
  • Food that has been cooked in a microwave tends to be extremely hot in the middle. Be careful when eating to avoid scolding your mouth and hands.

If appliances designed for our convenience – such as microwaves – are used in the correct way, they can save us a huge amount of time while also helping us to keep healthy. On the other hand, if we do not understand how to use these appliances safely, they have the potential to cause damage to property and injury to the user.


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