10 Simple Microwave Hacks | CHOICE – CHOICE
Since its accidental invention in 1946, the microwave has become a household hero, relieving us of tedious cooking tasks with its dielectric heating.
While many of us resort to the help of the microwave for simple heating and rewarming tasks, the capabilities of this kitchen gadget go far beyond that – and even break out of the realm of cooking.
Here are 10 hacks that will keep you looking at your microwave with a fresh taste – and one that you should definitely not try at home. Do you need a new microwave? Take a look at our product reviews.
1. Bake a cake in your mug
When there is a need for a small 3 p.m. selection, but the cupboard does not contain any sweet treats, a mug and microwave make it easy to whip up a delicious cake.
Find your largest mug (the bigger it is, the less likely your cake will overflow) and fill it with four tablespoons of powdered sugar, four tablespoons of self-raising flour, and two tablespoons of cocoa powder. Add an egg and mix the ingredients well.
Whip up a freshly cooked cake in a few minutes.
Next, add three tablespoons of milk, three tablespoons of vegetable oil and a few drops of vanilla essence. Stir to combine. If you want to get creative, you can add some choc chips, nuts, or dried fruit as well.
Microwave the cake for about two minutes (keep an eye on it; it took less than two minutes to cook) – or until the cake no longer rises and feels firm. Grab your spoon and dig in!
2. Get the pressure off of citrus fruits
Often times, when you squeeze citrus fruits, you feel a little betrayed. You know there is more juice in it, but your hand clasps to get it out.
Fortunately, CHOICE house economist Fiona Mair has the solution. Easy Place the whole fruit in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, roll it between your hands or on a countertop, then press it together.
You will find that after the fruit is warmed up, you can harvest a little more juice and it is easier to squeeze out. Definitely good to know when citrus fruits are out of season and expensive.
3. Make fancy looking parmesan chips
When we first heard about this microwave hack, we weren’t expecting much crispness. But when we tried it, we found that they were deliciously crispy – great for crumbling soups and salads or as a standalone snack.
A “wonderfully crispy” mince.
Place a sheet of non-stick parchment paper on a plate and spread an even layer of grated Parmesan cheese over the top. Microwave on high for 30 seconds to a minute, then carefully remove the plate from the oven and remove the chips from the paper. The cheese will become crispy as it cools.
Alternatively, you can turn them into parmesan cups that you can then fill and serve as a starter. After taking them out of the microwave, drape the still pliable cheese around a cup or casserole dish and let it cool and crisp.
4. Quickly rehydrate dried lentils and beans
If you keep forgetting to soak your dried lentils or beans overnight, this little shortcut to Fiona will become a firm favorite.
Place a cup of dried legumes in a microwaveable bowl and add enough cold water to just cover them. Add half a teaspoon of bicarbonate soda (this will help soften the legume skin) and turn the microwave on full speed for 10 minutes.
You’ll need to let them sit for at least an hour before using them, but that’s more comfortable than 12 long hours!
5. Cook perfect rice every time
If you’re struggling with the stove-top absorption method of rice cooking and don’t have the bench to use a rice cooker, you’ll be delighted to hear that the microwave can make perfect rice. (We were skeptical too, but cooking rice this way actually gives you more control.)
Cooking rice in your microwave gives you a little more control.
Simply place two cups of rinsed rice in a large microwaveable container and fill it with enough water to cover the rice by two inches.
Cover with a lid or plastic wrap (remember: no foil!) And cook for five minutes on high and then seven minutes on medium. (You may want to put a sheet of nonstick parchment paper under the container to catch any spilled material.) Remove the container and keep it covered for 3 to 5 minutes to allow the rice to steam further.
Check the consistency. If it’s not done yet, put it back in the microwave in one minute increments until done. It took us an additional three minutes to get fluffy, separate grains for our medium grain rice. Remember that brown rice takes a little longer.
CHOICE TIP: Now is a good time to clean your microwave, as the steam from the rice will help soften any residue and make it easier to wipe off.
6. Soak dried fruits quickly
If a baking recipe calls for dried fruits to be soaked in brandy or tea overnight, don’t panic if you haven’t given yourself enough time. Fiona says you can use your microwave to rehydrate fruit in no time.
Place the dried fruit and liquid in a microwaveable bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and heat on high for two minutes before letting sit for five minutes. (This example is for four cups of fruit and a quarter cup of brandy.)
Let the fruits cool before adding them to your recipe.
7. DIY dried herbs
Instead of composting the half-used bundle of withered herbs, use your microwave to turn them into dried herbs instead.
The herbs can be stored for up to a month.
Wash and dry your herbs, then place them on a sheet of paper towel. Carefully place it on the turntable of your microwave and cover it with another paper towel. Microwave high for two minutes or until the herbs crumble easily.
Continue heating at 30 second intervals until the herbs are dry. (It took us two intervals for ours to crumble slightly.) Store in an airtight container for up to a month.
8. Create your own thermal package
Do you have a little jiggle that would benefit from some gentle warmth? When you have a cotton sock and some rice, relief is just a push of a button away.
Fill a natural fiber sleeve (e.g. a cotton sock or cotton sack) with uncooked rice, wheat, or dried beans, tie it tight and microwave it for one to three minutes, depending on the size. For extra relaxation, you can add a soothing aroma like dried lavender or rosemary.
However, be sure to keep an eye on your heat pack while it is in the microwave, as overheating is a fire hazard. When you’re done, take it out of the microwave with a kitchen glove and do a thorough check for hot spots before applying it to your pain. It is a good idea to spray the heat pack with water before using the microwave as well.
9. Remove a stamp
While we don’t condone postage reuse, if you’re an avid collector, this postage removal hack might be worth a try.
We found this hack a hit and miss.
Moisten the stamp with a few drops of water and microwave on the lowest setting for 20 seconds.
It should come off easily, but when we tried three old postage stamps, only one came off and not as neatly. We had better luck with a stuck stamp. So if you accidentally write the wrong address on an already stamped envelope, give it a try.
CHOICE TIP: Dry paper can be a fire hazard. So keep the heat low and the time short, and don’t go away.
10. Clean your microwave in a flash
After you have thoroughly trained your microwave, you will likely experience some splashes and undesirable odors. But you don’t have to spend too much time or elbow grease to get it sparkling again. Fiona recommends using a lemon to deodorize and clean your microwave in just a few minutes.
Place a small, microwaveable bowl of water in the microwave with a few lemon wedges and heat on high for two minutes. Then all you have to do is wipe the walls, door and ceiling of the microwave with a dry microfiber cloth.
A lemon in water deodorises and cleans your microwave in minutes.
Don’t do this at home
Sponges and tea towels are dirty and damp places where bacteria tend to congregate. But there is something you can do to extend their lifespan without racing them and inheriting environmental problems after a short while?
A popular suggestion is to microwave your sponge. A US study from 2007 found that microwaving dirty tea towels and sponges for two to four minutes zapped 99% of germs.
There is a risk of setting fire to your sponge and microwave
Although the internet has largely accepted the practice, the jury is unsure if this is actually a good idea. A study from 2017 found that regularly disinfected sponges (using microwave or cooking methods) contain no fewer bacteria than uncleaned sponges.
Even more worrisome, you set your sponge and microwave on fire and the fire department has issued a strong warning about microwave sponges.
We recommend staying away from this entirely. Instead, try soaking the sponges in a dilute bleach solution. For Chux-style kitchen towels, you can also throw them in the washing machine (choose a disinfect cycle and / or a 90 degree super hot wash).
And in the same way as dish sponges, microwaving your cloth masks or synthetic fabrics probably isn’t a good idea either.
Remember that microwaves can vary depending on power and convection or inverter. So use the times given as a guide, but always stay close to your microwave while cooking just in case something goes wrong.
Also, be aware that certain things don’t belong in the microwave – like plastic takeaway containers and aluminum foil – and that food comes out hot!
It’s easy to forget that microwave temperatures can be just as hot as a normal oven.