- Some people have reservations about using the microwave.
- Microwaving aluminum foil can spark a fire and microwaving certain plastic containers could release the potentially cancer-causing chemical biosphenol-A (BPA).
- Certain foods, like raw eggs in their shells, explode in the microwave, while other food items, like frozen meats, just won’t cook properly.
Some people have reservations about using the microwave to reheat or cook food, but for the most, the microwave is a safe appliance. Contrary to popular belief, science has shown that, in fact, microwaves do not cause cancer, nor will they take away from the nutritional value of the majority of food items.
That being said, some food just isn’t made for microwave preparation, and you should probably be aware of what not to cook in this device for both your health and your safety.
Lean meats will dry out in the microwave.
Nationally recognized food safety and clean eating expert, award-winning entrepreneur, television chef, author and inventor, Chef Mareya Ibrahim, also known as “The Fit Foodie,” told INSIDER meats with high-fat contents, like bacon, “microwave beautifully” because of their grease.
Lean meats like pork and chicken, however, will dry out in the microwave and become almost inedible.
Seafood can get rubbery if you cook it in the microwave.
Seafood cooked in the microwave will have a similar texture to that of a balloon.
“Seafood like shrimp and shellfish, unless really well sauced, cook quickly and get rubbery in the microwave,” Chef Ibrahim said, so you’re better off not trying it.
Materials like aluminum and silver are flammable in the microwave.
Watch out for things like aluminum foil, silverware, foil paint on dishes and cups, and even some plastic coated paper (unless it’s labeled as microwave-safe) as Chef Ibrahim warned popping any of these into the microwave by accident could start a fire.
Anything made of rubber, plastic, or styrofoam typically isn’t microwavable.
“The heating process [of rubber, plastic, and styrofoam] can release toxins like biosphenol-A (BPA) and leach or melt into the food, which is not a good thing,” Chef Ibrahim explained over email.
Unless they are clearly marked as “safe to microwave,” don’t test your luck.
Microwaves spoil the texture of bread and pizza.
Have you ever popped a cool but crisp slice of pizza in the microwave, only to take out a piping hot, floppy crust? Co-founder and executive chef of Outstanding Foods, Chef Dave Anderson told INSIDER that microwaving pizza, bread – basically anything doughy – “destroys the texture and everything good about it.”
“I follow Ellen Degeneres’ philosophy when it comes to the microwave,” he said. “‘Anything that gets that hot without fire, that’s from the devil.'”
You should probably stop thawing frozen meat in the microwave, too.
Dr. Nidhi Ghildayal who holds a Ph.D. in public health from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, told INSIDER thawing frozen meat in the microwave is a major no-no as the heat can accelerate bacteria growth and lead to spoiling if you don’t cook it fast enough.
“The safest way to thaw meat is to defrost it overnight in your refrigerator,” noted Dana Murrell, Executive Chef at Green Chef.
Brown paper bags are highly flammable in the microwave.
Plus, paper bags can also contain ink and glue that, when heated, release toxic fumes, Ghildayal said.
Lead found in old-fashioned china or dinner sets can be toxic.
- Sean Gallup/Getty Images
When heated, these materials seep into your food, Ghildayal said, so it’s best to use containers and dishware you know for a fact are 100% microwave-safe.
Raw eggs aren’t meant to be cooked in the microwave.
Egg-in-a-mug recipes are clever and delicious, but you’re going to want to stick to the scrambling technique if you’re looking for breakfast on-the-go.
“Putting raw eggs in the microwave will likely result in a big mess, as the high temperatures may cause them to explode,” Murrell told INSIDER. “The taste of eggs cooked in a microwave will also never reach the quality and consistency of using a pan.”
Microwaving steak is a health and safety hazard.
It doesn’t matter how you like your steak cooked: Yankel Polack, head chef at ButcherBox, told INSIDER this slab of meat should go nowhere near the microwave.
For one thing, Polack said that, because microwaves tend to heat unevenly, foodborne bacteria living on the surface of the meat will thrive and spoil the dish. Plus, the challenge of getting the surface of your meat hot enough, fast enough can be a fire hazard.
“Health and safety aside,” he added, “the beauty of steak is really in how it interacts with heat. Specifically, contact with hot surfaces and proximity to the actual fire. All the key flavor compounds are released because of that interaction and the microwave doesn’t get you any of that.”
Travel mugs can actually do damage to your microwave.
If they’re made of stainless steel, that is. Doug Rogers, president of Neighborly Company Mr. Appliance, told INSIDER not only does stainless steel block heat from actually warming the liquid, this type of blockage can actually damage your microwave.
Transfer Chinese takeout out of its container and onto a microwave-safe plate before reheating your food.
- Flickr / mauriz
Chinese takeout is typically packaged in one of two types of containers: plastic, and paper with metal handles. Metal handles can spark a fire, while plastic containers, Rogers explained, “may contain BPA, which can release toxic fumes and leach into your food when heated.”
Raw carrots and other vegetables, like kale, can cause your microwave to spark.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, raw vegetables can cause “arcing,” or sparks to fly, “due to the minerals in the soil in which they were grown.”
If for some reason you walk away from your food while it’s cooking, or don’t realize the sparks, the organization notes that prolonged arcing “can damage the oven and/or the utensil.”
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