Ah, the microwave oven. Perhaps one of the biggest inventions of our times.
More than 90% of American homes have one and they purchased in the millions every year. These little, mini-ovens make reheating our food a whole lot quicker and convenient. They'll never replace the actual oven though since they can be used to fry, brown, or bake in the same way. Microwaves were invented accidentally by Percy Spencer, an engineer, who was working on radars when one melted a chocolate bar in his pocket. The first commercially available microwave oven came out in 1947. That bad boy was almost 5 ft 11 inches tall, weighed 750 lb, and cost about $5,000 ($57,000 in 2019 dollars) each.
They've come a long way since.
As you may well know, cooking in a microwave is a bit of a science. Some things smell, some things cook quick, some things blow up and metal is not allowed.
That being said, your microwave can most likely be doing a lot more for you than it actually is and I have come up with some unexpected ways that the microwave can be used by you, but probably isn't.
If you heat your onion before you cut it, the compound that causes you to shed tears breaks down and you won't cry. Simply place the onion in the microwave for 45 seconds before cutting it for a tear-free experience.
I started doing this last year and no regrets. You can put 4 ears of corn in at a time. Start by cutting off the stalk end of the corn, you want to get into the first few rows of kernels. Then place your corn on a plate and microwave at maximum power for 1-2 minutes. As we all know, every microwave is different so I would say that you want the corn to be warm to your touch. Hold the corn by the uncut end and shake the corn, if the cob doesn't fall out it hasn't been in long enough.
Sick of waiting for your bananas to soften? Sometimes I just can't wait to make that banana bread. Stab your bananas with a fork to make holes in them, this prevents exploding when you place them in the microwave for a minute or two.
Mac & Cheese in a Mug
I taught this one to my son for an after-school snack that does not require the oven.
You'll feel good eating this using real cheese rather than the powdered stuff, and it's ready just as fast (if not faster). Feel free to add veggies like broccoli or cut-up carrots if you're feeling extra adventurous!
Toast Nuts, Breadcrumbs, and Spices
Put your nuts, coconut, breadcrumbs, or spices in a shallow bowl in a thin, even layer. Start the microwave making sure to stir and check the color every 30 seconds after the first minute. When they start to color, go down to 10-second increments until golden brown.
There are a few ways to do this. Firstly you can add water to your veggies and cover them with a plate then microwave to steam. You can also cover said veggies on a plate with about three damp paper towels. Check veggies with a fork for desired softness.
Did you forget to soak the beans before bed last night? I always do. You can soak them in the microwave and still have your chili today. Simply place the beans in a large dish and add 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of dry beans. Microwave until the water is boiling, which may take approximately 15 minutes. Remove the beans from the microwave and let them sit for at least one hour, then drain and rinse with cool water.
Make Mug Cake
Easy to do, delicious to eat. Satisfy that sweet tooth in a flash. Here the recipe for a Snickerdoodle Mug Cake you can make in minutes.
Dry Fresh Herbs
Sick of throwing away your fresh herbs? Dry them in your microwave and save them for later. Place your herbs between two dry paper towels on a plate and cook for two-three minutes. They should then be brittle enough for storage.
Fix Crystallized Honey
Did you find a jar of honey that crystalized in your cupboard? Don't worry, honey doesn't go bad. Stick the jar in the microwave for 30-second increments until it goes back to normal. Don't forget to take the lid off!
Soften Stale Bread
Did your fresh loaf go hard overnight? Wrap that baby up in a damp paper towel and microwave in 10-second intervals. No paper towel? Simply place a glass of water in the microwave and follow the same directions.
Make Your Own Chips
Juice an Orange or Lemon With Ease
Sick of struggling with a lemon you need to juice? Since I keep mine in the fridge, they are always hard. I pop one in the microwave for about 15 seconds then roll it around the counter. Makes the whole thing a lot easier.
Cook Your Bacon
Bacon is extra good when it's crispy. Drape bacon strips over an upside-down bowl on a plate, then microwave for one minute per slice of bacon. The grease will drop on the plate, leaving you only the delicious meat.
Soften Your Sugar
Did you start a recipe before you checked your brown sugar? Is it hard as a rock? I've been there and I know how to fix it. Drop your brown sugar rock into a microwave-safe dish. Moisten a paper towel and place it in the dish with the sugar, then microwave for 25 seconds.
Peel Your Garlic
Save your fingers from the stink. Put a garlic bulb in the microwave for 15 seconds and the skin will slide off easily.
Poach an Egg
Ditch that crazy frypan and opt for the microwave method.
All you’ll need:
- Microwave-safe Mug
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 Tbsp white vinegar
- 1 egg
- Small microwave-safe plate/bowl
Crack the egg in the mug and cover it with water and vinegar. Cover with plate and microwave for about a minute. Take it out and look, if the white is set, it’s done! If it's not keep going in 20-second increments until it is.