The microwave has long been considered a miracle invention for a good reason: it reheats food in a cinch, cooks full meals in no time, and is energy efficient. One of the appliance’s handiest buttons is the express button, which instantly adds 30 seconds of cooking time, just enough to reheat leftovers or warm up your coffee. While that button is undoubtedly helpful, there is another under-utilized button that will change your microwave game: the power button.
How Microwaves Work
Microwaves shoot small waves of heat and energy to exercise the water particles in food — the more power, the more waves. This means that it has a wide range of options for preparing food, and the power button plays a big role in facilitating that.
Pressing the microwave’s power button allows you to scroll through intensity options from one to 10, with 10 being the default setting. The lower the number, the less power is exerted. When using the power button, think of the setting in the same way you would use the settings on a washer and dryer — lower settings are for delicate items you don’t want to overcook, while you might select a higher setting for more heavy-duty meals.
Food to Heat on Lower Settings
Are you looking to steam or cook something more fragile, such as eggs or oatmeal? Consider cooking these items on a lower setting, such as 50% — after all, there’s nothing worse than cleaning up a microwave full of exploded, soggy oats. Similarly, setting the microwave between 30% and 50% power will help gradually defrost frozen items and keep them food-safe. When heating dairy in the microwave, set a medium temperature, such as 40%, to avoid scalding milk or scorching butter.
Food to Heat on Higher Settings
You can also use the microwave on higher settings (between 80% and 100%) for quick-heat items, such as soups, starchy foods, and smaller pieces of meat and fish. Slow-cooking these meals on a low setting will make them tough to eat. Using high power for a shorter time allows you to have a hot meal without compromising quality.
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