By Edwin Buiter
The microwave is an essential tool for dorm room cooking. Nearly any food can be prepared in the microwave, with varying levels of success. However, cooking with a microwave can lead to burnt food, explosions, and fires if used improperly.
The key to microwave use is common sense. Metals do not belong in a microwave unless you want a miniature fireworks show and a broken microwave. Similarly, there is a long list of things that will fit in a microwave that certainly do not belong in a microwave. While most know that eggs are prone to explosion, fruits and vegetables that have an outer skin can all cause problems when heated in a microwave. As water inside expands, it has nowhere to go and will eventually cause the item to explode, making a huge mess. Microwaves are good at heating water, so be careful when you remove items as they may be scalding.
Equally problematic is microwaving food dry when it should be wet. Noodles need to be cooked in water and will burn if microwaved dry. If you are making a food you’ve never made before and are uncomfortable with the process, stay close to the microwave so you can shut it down if things start going wrong.
When used properly, the microwave can produce excellent results, and there are numerous tricks to getting microwaved food just right. For example, when reheating leftovers, if part of the meal is going to heat faster than the other, separate it when cooking so you don’t leave half of your plate in the arctic while the other half is burning your tongue. While you may question the purpose of the button, most microwavable popcorn instructions are very clear that the popcorn button on a microwave is not to be used. Putting a bag of popcorn in the microwave and hitting the popcorn button is a surefire way to get either burnt or uncooked popcorn.
Continue to enjoy the convenience of the microwave oven, and make safe, effective use of the marvels of modern technology.