Microwave Cooking - Myths and Facts

Microwave ovens have been in use for over 50 years now in homes, office pantries, and restaurants. However, there are still a few myths about the dangers of microwave cooking. Many experts have studied the effects of microwave cooking and found it to be generally safe and energy efficient. However, there are a few precautions that you need to take when using a microwave for cooking.

Myth: Microwaves Alter Food in Undesirable Ways

All cooking alters the composition of food. However, there is no proof the microwaves alter food in an undesirable manner. Microwaves are non-ionizing rays, meaning that they do not breakdown the atoms or molecules. Experts believe that this makes it unlikely that microwaves can alter foods in undesirable ways or make them unsafe for human consumption.

Myth: Microwaves Destroy the Nutrients in Food

While all heating destroys some of the nutrients in food, some nutrients are increased by heating. Also, while boiling frozen vegetables can cause their nutrients to leach into the water, microwaving the frozen foods can help retain the nutrients.

Fact: Using Plastics in a Microwave is Dangerous

Tests have shown that even microwaveable plastics release some amount of BPA and other cancer causing substances into food when heated. While microwaves pass through the plastic container and reach the food to heat it up, this heat can cause the carcinogens to mix with the food you are about to eat. As such, it is safer to use only glass or ceramic containers for microwave cooking.

Myth: Metals Can Cause a Fire Inside a Microwave

Metals reflect microwaves and so they cannot be used to heat food. They do not become very hot either. However, tin foils, fork tines, and similar thin strips of metal can cause electricity to arc, leading to a fire.

Myth: Microwaves Leak High Amounts of Electromagnetic Radiation

Microwave ovens manufactured for cooking purposes use low levels of microwaves and there are safety measures in place to ensure that the radiation does not escape the oven. The oven stops producing microwaves if the door is opened. These measures make the amount of electromagnetic radiation produced by a microwave oven negligible.

Fact: Large Chunks of Meat cannot be Cooked Safely in a Microwave Oven

Microwaves only penetrate up to 1.5 inches of meat, poultry, or fish, heating only these parts. If the slice of meat or poultry being cooked is thick, there is a danger that some parts of it will not be cooked to the desired heat to kill harmful pathogens.

Fact: Heating Water for Long in a Microwave can cause it to Explode

When water is heated for long time in a microwave it can explode since the extra heat cannot escape in the form of bubbles. So if you leave water for an extended period of time in a microwave and it is over heated and you drop a spoon or something else into it, it can explode. To avoid this, set the timer for a short duration or leave a wooden spoon in the container along with the water.

Fact: You cannot Melt Butter in a Microwave

A microwave heats food by oscillating the water droplets in the food. As water and butter do not contain water droplets, they cannot be heated in a microwave. Even the small amounts of water present in butter is frozen and locked into place, preventing oscillation.

Fact: Microwaves are Energy Efficient

Microwave ovens are an energy efficient way of cooking since the food is heated directly. The container becomes warm after the food is heated, not the other way around. This means that a microwave oven consumes less energy for heating the same quantity of food, making it an excellent way to cook.

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