Microwaves are very common in the U.S. because they are fast and convenient. In fact, in 2006 only DVD players and digital televisions were sold in greater numbers than microwave ovens and ranges!
Americans typically use microwaves to heat up food that is leftover from another meal. Since these are commonly made of a wide variety of ingredients, they are safe to warm in the microwave. Additionally, we have a lot of pre-made meals that are specifically made to be used in the microwave. These normally WON’T work in a traditional oven. The following foods can be microwaved with caution:
- Scrambled or poached eggs. Please don’t try to cook a whole egg, even if it is peeled. It WILL explode.
- Popcorn, but only if it is the “made for the microwave” variety.
- Hot dogs and sausages that have been pricked with a fork to let internal heat escape.
- Potatoes and tomatoes that are pricked (same as above).
- Water IF you’ve added sugar, instant coffee, or another food to it. Otherwise, heated water can become super-heated. “Super-heated” means the water is beyond the boiling temperature even if it doesn’t look like it is boiling. Super-heated water can erupt and burn the user.
Foods that should NEVER be cooked in the microwave include foods with an external membrane or skin that have not been pricked, i.e., potatoes, sausage, and the other items mentioned above. Grapes and dried hot peppers should not be microwaved since they can catch fire! Other than these few items, most foods can be cooked in the microwave. (That’s probably why we like microwaves so much!)