The microwave oven was invented in the 20th century; over 90% of homes in America have at least one. Today, many people use microwave ovens daily to prepare foods, it is important to know some cooking basics to ensure food safety. It is important to use a food thermometer and test food in several placed to be sure it has reached the recommended safe temperature to destroy bacteria and other pathogens that could cause food borne illness.
Microwave ovens are popular for reheating previously cooked foods and cooking vegetables. It is useful for rapid heating of otherwise slowly prepared cooking items, such as hot butter, fats and chocolate. Unlike conventional ovens, microwave ovens usually do not directly brown or caramelize food.
Although heat is produced directly in the food, microwave ovens do not cook food from the “inside out.” When thick foods are cooked, the outer layers are heated and cooked primarily by microwaves while the inside is cooked mainly by the conduction of heat from the hot outer layers.
Microwave cooking can be more energy efficient than conventional cooking because foods cook faster and the energy heats only the food, not the whole oven compartment. Microwave cooking does not reduce the nutritional value of foods any more than conventional cooking. In fact, foods cooked in a microwave oven may keep more of their vitamins and minerals, because microwave ovens can cook more quickly and without adding water.
Bacteria will be destroyed during microwave cooking just as in other types of ovens, so the food is safe cooked in a microwave oven. However the food can cook less evenly than in a conventional oven. Microwave cooking can be uneven just as with frying and grilling.
To promote uniform cooking, arrange food items evenly in a covered dish and add some liquid if needed. Where possible, debone large pieces of meat; bone can shield meat from thorough cooking.
Cover the dish with a lid or plastic wrap. Allow enough space between the food and the top of the dish so that plastic wrap does not touch the food. Loosen or vent the lid or wrap to allow steam to vent. The moist heat that is created will help destroy harmful bacteria and ensure uniform cooking. Cooking bags also provide safe, even cooking.
Stir, rotate, or turn foods upside down (where possible) midway through the microwaving time to even the cooking and eliminate cold spots where harmful bacteria can survive. Even if the microwave oven has a turntable, it’s still helpful to stir and turn food top to bottom.
Follow cooking instructions on the product label (or recipe instructions). If a range of time is given, start with the fewest minutes recommended. Add cooking time if necessary to reach a safe internal temperature.
Observe the “standing time.” Cooking continues and is completed during standing time. Most importantly, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Never partially cook food and store it for later use because any bacteria present wouldn’t have been destroyed. When partially cooking food in the microwave oven to finish cooking on the grill or in a conventional oven, it is important to transfer the microwaved food to the other heat source immediately.
Microwaves might affect the human body as it is known that microwave radiation can heat body tissue the same way it heats food. Exposing to high levels of microwaves can cause a painful burn. Exposure to high levels of microwave energy can alter or kill sperm, producing temporary sterility. Different types of injuries like burns, cataracts, temporary sterility can only be caused by exposure to large amounts of microwave radiation much more than the 5mW limit for microwave oven leakage.
- Microwaved food, when consumed continuously over a long period, “shorts out” electrical impulses in the brain, depolarizing or de-magnetizing brain tissue.
- Microwaving food changes its chemical composition in some mysterious, unknown way, destroying the “vital energy” and nutrients in food.
- Microwaving water cause changes in its “structure or energy.”
- Microwaving food or water causes the formation of “radiolytic compounds” — new chemicals created by the tearing apart of molecules.
Here are some real, not-hidden hazards of microwave cooking like heat, bacteria, metals, plastics, empty and damaged oven.