Your microwave can do much more than heat up last night’s leftovers. Check out these tips for how to get more out of this versatile appliance, straight from Real Simple.
1. Disinfecting and Deodorizing Sponges
Don’t throw out the kitchen sponge that smells like last night’s salmon. Soak it in water spiked with white vinegar or lemon juice, then heat it on high for 1 minute. (Use an oven mitt to remove it.) This will also disinfect any sponges you used to wipe up the juices from a raw chicken.
2. Cooking an Entire Dinner in Under 10 Minutes
Not just the TV variety. We mean braised salmon with green beans and mashed potatoes. Use the microwave for any recipe that calls for braising, poaching, or steaming. Just subtract about three-quarters of the cooking time. Remember to stir liquids often to redistribute the heat, and always take the food out a minute or two before it’s completely done, since it will continue to cook.
3. Disinfecting Plastic Cutting Boards
Wash the board well, rub it with the cut side of a lemon, then heat for 1 minute.
4. Making Potatoes
While the microwave won’t give you a baked potato with a crisp skin, it will cook the average russet in about 4 minutes. You can simultaneously cook as many as will fit. (The general rule for heating more food is to check for doneness every 30 seconds beyond the regular cooking time.) Prick the potatoes all over with a fork and cook for 2 minutes. Turn them over and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer. For mashed potatoes, be sure to heat the milk in the microwave before adding it. (Cold milk makes for cold mashed potatoes.)
5. Softening Brown Sugar
Keep the sugar in its plastic packaging, add a few drops of water, and heat on medium for 10 to 20 seconds.
6. Decrystallizing Honey
Honey that has solidified can be brought back to liquid life by uncovering the jar and heating on medium power for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
7. Proofing Yeast Doughs
Yeast doughs that normally take an hour or more to rise at room temperature can be proofed in the microwave in about 15 minutes. Place the dough in a very large bowl and cover with plastic. Place an 8-ounce cup of water in the back of the microwave with the bowl of dough in the center, and set the power as low as possible (10 percent power). Heat for 3 minutes, then let the dough rest in the microwave for 3 minutes. Heat for 3 minutes longer, then let rest for 6 minutes. The dough will double in bulk.