You can probably find a microwave in almost every kitchen across the country, but not everyone is using it to its maximum potential. This collection of microwave tips and tricks will ensure you put those radio waves to good use.
Picture: Taylor Burnes/Flickr
Microwaves are great for food and non-food related tasks, but keep in mind that cooking times will always vary depending on the microwave. Whether you're trying to throw together a quick meal, or looking for some interesting uses you haven't heard of, these tips should bring the heat:
- Easily steam your veggies: Neil Gonzalez at WonderHowTo recommends you use a microwave safe bowl, some plastic wrap, add water if needed, and make sure your veggies are in uniform pieces (about 2.5cm long). Just punch a whole in the plastic to release the steam.
- Cook some eggs: You can have them poached or sunny side up. For sunny side up, just preheat your plate, add a little butter, crack the egg on the plate — yolk up — and heat for 45 seconds. For a poached egg, fill a microwave safe bowl halfway with water, crack the egg into the water, cover the bowl with a plate and cook for 60 seconds.
- Reheat food evenly: If you're using a plate, Karen Ahn at WonderHowTo suggests spreading the food out so it sits in a circle on your plate with an open space in the centre. If your microwave has a spinning carousel, you can also microwave food on the edge of the rotating plate for even heating. Lastly, if you're having trouble with food cooking uneven, be sure to check for your microwave's hot spots.
- Pasteurise potting mix: You can kill the diseases in your soil to help prevent future problems with your plants. The University of California recommends filling a paper bag with soil and cooking it the microwave. Cooking times can vary — the minimum temp required is 60C for 30 minutes — but make sure the soil is moist when you put it in.
- Clean and deodorise socks: If you need a clean pair of socks quick, the Handy Ma'am suggests soaking them in a bowl of soapy water and then microwaving the entire thing. About 10 minutes should do the trick.
- Make hard taco shells: If you have some soft tortillas, you can place them in a a mug on its side, and microwave for a minute. The tortillas will come out crisp and perfectly taco shaped.
- Fit multiple bowls in your microwave: If you need to share your microwave — or just need to get two separate things cooked at the same time — Neil Gonzalez at WonderHowTo explains that you can use a jar or wide glass to hold one bowl above the other and out of the way.
- Get more citrus juice: A quick trip to the microwave — around 10 seconds or so — can help you get a little bit more juice out of that lemon or lime. You can also freeze it beforehand and then microwave it, but you'd need to keep citrus fruits in your freezer.
- Avoid heating in square containers: Plasticsinfo.org recommends against using square or rectangular containers for microwave heating. With square containers, the corners tend to receive more energy and cook your food unevenly.
- Get a little more out of your mascara: If your mascara has dried up, The Guardian suggests heating it for a brief 30 to 40 seconds. The heat will get everything inside loosened up, but make sure the container isn't metal and place a cup of water inside along with it to help dissipate some of the energy.
- Cook some crispy bacon: Turn a bowl upside down and rest it on a plate. Lay the bacon over the top of the bowl and microwave for a minute per slice. The grease will run down the side of the bowl and not the side of your face.
- Get honey moving again: You can de-crystallise your honey with a hot bath, but Melissa Clark at website Real Simple suggests removing the jar's top and nuking it for 30 seconds to a minute.
- Keep your microwave clean: You can clean a dirty microwave with a halved lemon and some water, or deodorise your microwave with some bicarb soda and water. If you need a clean, disinfected sponge, you can microwave one wet and then wipe down the microwave. Talk about two birds!
Now you're ready to use your microwave like a pro, but always make safety your number one priority. Microwaves heat things incredibly fast and if you're not sure what's OK to microwave, be sure to check beforehand.