Thursday, August 27, 2009

Microwave Safe

I find the microwave to be a bit of a mysterious appliance. I step aside when I realize I am standing in front of the microwave 'breeze' thinking it might do some harm and I definitely have some unanswered questions about microwave safety.

What containers are safe to use?
Does it matter, nutritionally speaking, whether I cook vegetables in the microwave or on stove top?
What about those foods, like flavored rice, that cook right in the package?

Firstly, we really don't use the microwave very much at home. We reheat meals, very occasionally make popcorn, but we rarely cook anything in the microwave. I do reheat lunches almost every day at work, and I have wondered about what is safe to use for reheating food. I prefer to use glass containers when I can. I looked online to get some answers (Microwave Safe Containers and Microwaving Food in Plastic: Dangerous or not?) and it was pretty interesting. These are some tips I found out:

  • When microwaving with plastic containers, definitely only use ones that are labeled microwave safe
  • Microwave safe means that the plastic has been approved by the FDA based on a series of tests that consider surface area of plastic touching food and temperatures food can reach
  • Glass containers are considered safe, but they should still say microwave safe because of the possibility of shattering due to heat (you can check this by microwaving it empty for one minute and if it is hot then it is not microwave safe)
  • Plastics that are not labeled microwave safe may be okay to use, but haven't been tested for FDA approval
  • Unsafe plastic containers mean harmful chemicals could be leaking into the food when reaching a high temperature
  • There are also food grade containers that can become unsafe if used to store high fat foods (may cause original oils to leak into food) or if used to store non-food items
  • Food grade containers are not necessarily microwave safe
  • Plastic wrap should not touch food and any container should be vented.
  • Alternatives to plastic wrap are a paper towel, wax paper, parchment paper
  • Most take-out containers are not microwave safe
  • Do not brine food in non food containers such as plastic bags
This definitely confirms that I want to continue to microwave in glass containers which, I have found, can be quite expensive. But, obviously they should last a long time and are worth it.

I still want to research more about cooking foods in their packages, I am very suspicious of this but didn't find anything this time around on the internet.

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