Ah, the humble kitchen microwave. It’s the best friend of many a student, benevolently heating up frozen lasagne and providing quick milos when the times get tough.
However, microwaves are capable of producing a lot more than just your average plebeian fare. Microwave ovens aren’t just for reheating anymore – they can be used to steam, dry, fry, bake and clean. In fact, given a chance, your microwave could be your ticket to becoming a gourmet superstar. It will save you both time and money, so why not let your friendly neighbourhood appliance be your dinnertime hero?
Super useful, not super powered
Before you get started, let’s clear up some rumours. No, your microwave does not make your food radioactive, it’ll just heat it. Provided you use your microwave according to instructions, your gourmet endeavours should be perfectly safe to consume. In short, microwave ovens do use radiation, but it is not cancerous, nor will it turn you into the next member of the X-men. So how you can make use of the dark knight of your kitchen?
Take a look at your microwave – the first thing you’ll want to figure out is whether it’s a conventional or convection type. Conventional microwaves are the most common. They’re fast, efficient and often contain pre-set options for cooking specific dishes. Convection microwaves, on the other hand, have an additional heating element and fan to cook food more evenly and give you a bit more variety.
These tricks will work on all kinds of microwaves, but if after reading this article you’re planning to cook all of your meals in a microwave (we don’t blame you), then a convection microwave would give you the options to help you become the Masterchef of your home. If you’re just planning on boosting your snack time to the next level, then a conventional microwave will do the trick.
The key to a lot of these tricks is to adjust the wattage of your microwave. Whether it’s a specific number or percentage of the total, as long as you control the wattage, you control the power. Simply lowering the wattage down to 50% and cooking for twice the amount of time can ensure more even cooking, and not leave it frozen on the inside and piping hot on the outside.
In general, 500 watts and under can be used to dehydrate or dry out. This is great for reheating cold pizza minus the chewy crust. Between 500-800 watts is best for steaming or frying, so it’s perfect for freshly cooked broccoli, or making your own healthy veggie chips.
Rise and shine
A perfectly poached egg is always welcome on your breakfast plate, but is a lot less fun to attempt, and it never seems to be as good as the one you get from your trendy brunch spot. Well, prepare to amaze yourself, because you too can create the most photogenic poached egg, with the help of water, a splash of vinegar and your microwave. Check out the full instructions here and enjoy your gourmet breakfast in the comfort of your own home!
Somebody to lean on
Your microwave can even provide you with therapy and emotional support. Well, not quite, but you can make this molten chocolate mug cake in about five minutes, and that’s probably close enough. It’s easier than making a whole cake and you’d probably have all of the ingredients in your cupboard already. The only issue is whether you’ll be able to stop at one. If that does prove to be a challenge, try this alternative guilt-free banana version, for a more regular pick-me-up.
Your kitchen assistant
Sometimes the microwave isn’t an option for cooking an entire meal. But your microwave can be a side-kick just as much as a solo hero. Take chopping onions – it’s not something to cry over, but sometimes the tears just start falling. Before you start dicing, trim off the ends and put them in the microwave for about 30 seconds on full power. This removes the smell that causes the eye stinging, providing a much more pleasant onion cutting experience.
A common companion to onion is garlic, which can often be a real bother to peel. Just pop the head of garlic into the microwave or 15-20 seconds, and then attempt to peel the skin. The cloves will practically slide out of their skins, and the frustrating struggle to get that last piece of skin off is now obsolete.
After all that use, if your microwave starts to look a little dirty, just put a bowl of lemon juice and water on high for two minutes, and leave it to rest for another five. Any dirt will just wipe away with a paper towel, no scrubbing required.
Microwaves are macro-useful
Now that you’ve unlocked the secrets of the microwave, you’re ready to take on the culinary world! But even if you’re not quite ready for Hell’s Kitchen, at least you can whip yourself up a tasty meal with a few shortcuts. But remember, with great microwave power, comes great microwave responsibility.
If you’re inspired by these microwave secrets, why not see what microwave brands have the highest levels of customer satisfaction with our helpful guide?