Microwaving 101

A microwave can come in handy when you're cooking foods with a high water content, such as vegetables, fruit and fish. It won't replace your oven or stovetop, but its versatility may surprise you.

It's also an excellent way to defrost meats, and it reheats leftovers particularly well. As an added bonus, microwaving foods helps retain nutrients like vitamins and minerals.

What Exactly Is Microwaving?
In a microwave, electricity is converted into microwaves and the waves are then spread throughout the oven via a revolving fan. As the waves scatter they behave like billiard balls, bouncing around until they land on something moist like food or water. At that point the waves partially penetrate the food, causing the water molecules they touch to vibrate. This vibration creates friction and thus produces heat. Once the water molecules are moving, the food cooks from the outside in.

4 Steps To Microwaving
1 Obviously, you'll need to invest in a microwave for your kitchen, and you might also want to buy some microwave-safe cookware with lids. If you're using plastic wrap, make sure it's microwaveable (other types can melt).
2 Place the food you want to cook in a microwave-safe dish. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Covering foods helps the food cook evenly by preventing the moisture in the food from evaporating.
3 Cook your food according to the recipe directions. Keep in mind that conventional oven cooking times do not apply to microwave ovens. Most microwave ovens come with cookbooks that suggest cooking times for various foods. Also, cooking times vary with microwaves. As a rule of thumb: The higher the wattage the faster the cooking time; the older the microwave the longer the cooking time.
4 Always remove the plastic wrap away from your face so the steam that's released won't burn you.

Tip: Microwaves can penetrate most materials but they are deflected by metal. That's why you should never use metal plates in the microwave.

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