How to Use Your Microwave (The Right Way)

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Even though using a microwave seems fairly intuitive — input the cooking time and press start — there are ways to dramatically improve the taste and texture of your leftovers when employing this miracle culinary device.

Use these hacks at the office, in a hotel room, or in your own kitchen, and you'll be amazed at how you might have been doing it wrong this whole time.

Using Your Microwave to its Fullest Potential:

Get to Know Your Microwave

Despite their ubiquity, all microwaves are not created equally. The first step in learning how to use your microwave is to know your own microwave. Do a little research on your particular model to get to know the wattage, power levels, settings, and most important of all — cleanliness. Knowing this information will help you more efficiently and hygienically reheat your food; a lot of microwave cooking directions make assumptions based on wattages, and different settings are suited to better cooking tasks.

If you have a manual for your microwave, it can't hurt to take a look through it to see if it offers any recommendations. Otherwise, check out some online resources, either from the manufacturer or from cooking forums that can advise you.

Stick to Ceramic and Glass

Speaking of hygiene and food safety, resist the temptation to reheat your food in plastic or paper containers — and absolutely never in aluminum or metal containers. Aluminum and metal will spark in the microwave and cause a fire or explosion (which, in addition to causing untold amounts of damage, will ruin the texture of your food). Plastic, even seemingly sturdy plastic, might melt into the food and release toxic chemicals.

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Heat in Intervals

Many of us consider using a microwave as a "set it and forget it" technique. However, to ensure your food is heated evenly and thoroughly, you'll need to heat in small increments and check the food between intervals. Heating in 30-second intervals means there will be no scorched spots.

Additionally, after 30 seconds, flip or stir your food to make sure different parts are exposed to the heat for the following 30 seconds in the microwave, and so on until desired warmth is reached.

Keep Food Flat

Another trick for how to use your microwave is to make sure food isn't stacked or dense. This could mean separating elements of your meal in different areas of a plate or deconstructing your slice of lasagna. This will prevent your food from being hot on the outside and ice — cold on the inside. Don't worry, you can reconstruct your food into a more desirable shape afterward!

Add Liquid

To avoid bone-dry rice, pasta, or other grains, consider adding a few tablespoons of water or broth and/or covering the dish with a damp paper towel to create a steaming effect on the food (don't keep your paper towel in the microwave longer than a minute or it might burn). Or you can even add a small cube of ice and then cover with microwave-safe parchment paper or paper towel. Either way, adding some kind of liquid will help preserve the food's texture.

Those are our tips for how to use your microwave the right way. May your leftovers be forever warm and tasty!!

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