Microwave 101

Meet Your Microwave: Your Kitchen's Most Misunderstood Appliance

Meet Your Microwave: Your Kitchen's Most Misunderstood Appliance
Microwave 101

Meet Your Microwave: Your Kitchen's Most Misunderstood Appliance

News Microwave 101 Meet Your Microwave: Your Kitchen's Most Misunderstood Appliance

As Chef David Chang famously says, the microwave is a machine from the future here in present day. Though it’s in 90% of our kitchens, the vast majority of us only use it to reheat leftovers, make popcorn, and heat up coffee.


But it turns out that there's so much more to the microwave than meets the eye! And that there are a lot of common misconceptions about the microwave (for instance, did you know that some metal CAN go in the microwave?!) Here are our favorite game-changing facts about your kitchen’s hidden superpower. They just might make you appreciate the nondescript appliance on your counter in a new way.


They're totally safe. (Really!)

Did you know that your cell phone emits more microwaves than your microwave does?! People worry about standing in front of the microwave, but many studies have shown that in reality, they're 100% safe. Microwaves are simply a type of electromagnetic wave, which is the same kind of wave as light waves or radio waves. They’re non-ionizing, which means they’re not powerful enough to cause the harmful kind of radiation. 


So if you feel okay about using a cell phone or standing next to lights, you should feel completely safe standing next to a microwave!


 

They're the healthiest way of cooking.

 

It's shocking, but it's true. Studies done by Harvard University, Cornell University, and many others have proven that food cooked in the microwave is more nutrient-dense than food cooked by other methods.


But it also makes sense! Nutrients leave your food when it's cooked for a long time or at very high temperatures. The microwave does neither of those things — it cooks food for a very short time and at very low temperatures. As a result, vitamins and nutrients in things like broccoli or spinach stay in your food! 

 

They cook food even faster than you think.

Microwaves are super fast at cooking and heating food because the length of a microwave (the actual wave, not the machine!) happens to be particularly excellent at making water molecules vibrate back and forth quickly. We experience this fast water vibration as heat! This means the microwave is directly heating up the food itself, which is why it's so fast.


Contrast this with an oven, stove, or pressure cooker, which work by heating up the air or space around the food, and then waiting for that heat to penetrate the food. They are indirectly heating the food. In the case of an oven, you're also waiting for it to preheat.


Since pretty much every food is mostly made up of water, that means all food cooks super quickly in a microwave.

 

They're the most convenient tool: just set-and-forget.

One of the beautiful things about the microwave is that you can just press a few buttons, it instantly starts cooking, and stops when the timer goes off. There's no need to preheat the pan or preheat the oven, and it won't cook for any longer than you set it for.


And while it's cooking, you can use that free time to do whatever you want.

 



And get ready for it — the ultimate PSA that deserves to be shouted far and wide...

 

You can make incredibly delicious food in it.

The least well-known but most game-changing fact about the microwave is that you can make awesome food in it. People typically associate microwaved food with old-school frozen TV dinners, but hey... garbage in, garbage out, right?


But honestly, you can make things like:


  

Kimchi Tofu and Mushroom Stew


Creamy Polenta

 


If you try cooking raw, fresh ingredients in the microwave, you'll see that you can make vibrantly green broccoli in two minutes, wonderfully medium-rare salmon in 3 minutes, truly excellent fluffy rice in twenty minutes, and a whole slew of other delicious meals, too.


You only need two things to do this, and we're here to help with both:


1. The right tools. See: The Everyday Set


AND


2. The know-how. See: Recipes and Ingredient Guides.

Don't just take our word for it!

Though the concept of microwave cooking may sound wild and bizarre to many, it turns out that lots of chefs and food writers have already been on the microwave kick for years! 


“The microwave is an essential secret weapon for preparing fresh (yes, fresh), healthy (yes, healthy) foods.” - Epicurious


"Most underrated & misunderstood kitchen tool: the microwave. Give it some love. It's probably been neglected for too long in your kitchen." - David Chang


“For any vegetable you would parboil or steam, the microwave works as well or better, and is faster.” - Mark Bittman


 


So to recap:


 

Makes delicious food   ✔️

Harmless   ✔️

Preserves nutrients   ✔️

Saves time   ✔️



Safe to say, the microwave wins the award for your kitchen’s most powerful secret weapon. Remember that the next time you reach for the cold leftovers!

The Everyday Set

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The Large Deep Dish

$40
Feeds 3-4
Great for rice & grains, one-dish meals, soups
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steph Chen

Steph Chen is the founder of Anyday and also someone who feels like she's winning life when cooking food that is very high on the delicious scale and very low on the effort scale. Having done food-related stints at Eat Just and Chez Panisse earlier in her career, she found herself incredulous at the unexpected power of the microwave and decided the world needed to know.