Put away your pots and pans and get out paper plates or glass and plastic utensils when you use your microwave oven. Because microwaves do not cook food using a heating element, like a conventional oven does, they require different methods and materials for cooking. You will achieve the safest and best results by using the correct types of dishes and utensils in a microwave.
Many types of plastic containers work well when heating or cooking food in a microwave oven. Certain plastic wraps also work well as a covering for the food. Look for a seal or stamp on the package or container saying you can safely use it in the microwave or check the directions that came with your microwave for testing a utensil or container. Materials not made for microwave cooking may melt, start on fire or leach chemicals into the food.
Glass dishes and containers and some ceramics make ideal cooking vessels in the microwave. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends testing glass or ceramic containers and dishes for safety by putting one inside the microwave with a cup of water beside it in a glass measuring cup. If the plate or dish stays cool after one minute of heating on high, you can safely use it, but those that heat up should stay out of the microwave.
Wax paper makes a safe, effective covering or wrap for microwaved foods, as do cooking bags with no metal or foil. White paper plates and paper towels are also a safe choice for cooking in the microwave. Avoid using newspaper, grocery bags or other paper bags because of the risk of fire or contamination.
Metal, including pans, aluminum foil or trim on some dishes, makes microwave cooking dangerous. Never put anything made of metal in the microwave because it will cause arcing or flame-ups. To avoid chemical exposure or melting onto the food, keep plastic wrap from touching the food directly during heating. Do not reuse products made for one-time cooking, such as containers for frozen microwave meals, the U.S. Department of Agriculture warns. Other poor choices include margarine tubs and other thin plastic containers that do not stand up to heating.
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