If you are using the microwave only to heat food and water, you are under-utilizing it! You can use microwave to clean things, sterilize, dehydrate, and even use it to make your own cheese. Let's see together 15 alternative ways to use it, with step-by-step instructions!
1. Use it to clean stuff…
Your microwave is a pretty powerful appliance, and you can harness that power to clean stuff around your house! Dirty soft toys? Grimy kitchen sponge? No worries, you can zap them clean in the microwave! Wet the items slightly and microwave it on full power for about 2 minutes. Remember not to add anything with plastic bits (like plastic buttons on toys) otherwise it will melt!
2. …Or to clean itself!
If you use your microwave a lot, then you probably know that it can get grimy after a while. But there is no need to buy harsh cleaning chemicals to scrub it clean. Let the microwave do its own clean-up. For an all-natural non-toxic method, cut a lemon in half, add it to a bowl filled with water and cook on high for 5 minutes. Not only will all the dirt loosen so you can simply wipe it, but your kitchen will smell fresh too!
3. Steam vegetables
You don’t need a fancy steamer and basket contraption to steam veggies – use your microwave! Simply rinse your vegetables, add to a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave. No additional water necessary! The actual steaming time depends on the vegetable, but usually it’s about 5 minutes for broccoli (they should be bright green when ready) and carrots, 6 minutes for zucchini, and a short 1 to 2 minutes for peas.
4. Soften (and cook) garlic
Use your microwave to make your garlic prep hassle-free. To make peeling easier, simply microwave a few cloves for 10 seconds, and they will squeeze right out of the skins! They will still retain their raw garlic flavor. If you want to use garlic in salads and want to take the bite out of raw garlic, you can give them a quick cook in the microwave. Trim a head of garlic, and add to a microwave-safe bowl. Add 2 Tbsp water, a drizzle of olive oil, and salt and microwave on medium heat for about 8 minutes until soft.
5. Stop your crying
There are many stories on how not to cry when chopping onions. Although not many of them work, there are a few (scientifically-proven) methods to avoid tears when working with onions. One of them is microwaving the onions before chopping them. This works because the heat in the microwave starts to break down the sulfur in the onions, the same compound responsible for causing tears!
6. Proof your dough
Home cooks know the challenges of baking bread, especially when waiting for it to rise. Sometimes you don’t have time to wait for the rising period, and other days the weather is simply too cold for your dough. Next time when you’re baking bread, try using your microwave for proofing the dough. Microwave your dough at the lowest setting (usually about 10%) for about 15 minutes. It should now be ready for the oven!
7. Ripen avocados
Don’t you hate it when you’re ready to eat your avocado, but they’re not ready for you yet? If you have a microwave, then this waiting is a thing of the past. Cut your avocado in half and remove the pit. Wrap the halves in microwave-safe plastic wrap and cook for 30-second intervals, until you achieve the desired ripeness. You won’t get the same buttery texture from a naturally-ripened avocado, but at least you can eat it now!
8. Make homemade cappuccino
Want to get that coffee bar feeling without the price tag? Make your own cappuccino at home by creating foam in the microwave. You only need a jar and 2% or non-fat milk. Add the milk to a glass jar, seal it, and shake vigorously until foamy, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Microwave for 30 seconds, then remove the lid and microwave another 30 seconds. You’re now ready to make foamy latte!
9. Make ricotta cheese
Need ricotta for a recipe, but forgot to buy it? You can make your own, and you only need a microwave! Simply mix 2 cups whole milk (or full-cream), ¼ tsp salt, and 2 Tbsp white vinegar and microwave it on full power for 4 to 5 minutes. If you have a thermometer, check that the temperature is at about 165°F (74°C). Use a fine-mesh sieve or a colander with paper towel and spoon the curds into the sieve. Let it drain for 5 minutes and enjoy!
10. Make breakfast for one
If you live on your own, then you know the hassle of making breakfast. Who wants to use a big frying pan for only two eggs? Rather use the microwave! To make scrambled eggs, simply beat two large eggs, and add 2 Tbsp milk, salt and pepper in a microwave-safe Pyrex jug. Microwave on full power for 45 seconds. Give it a stir, and microwave another 30 to 45 seconds until the eggs are cooked.
11. Make crispy bacon
Next time you want crispy bacon, leave the frying pan in the cupboard and use the microwave! Line a microwave-safe plate with paper towels and place your bacon strips on top, in a single layer. Cover with two more layers of towel paper. This is to absorb the fat and make it crispy. Microwave for 4 to 6 minutes. Make sure to check it after 4 minutes so that the bacon doesn’t burn!
12. Dry herbs
If you have your own herb garden, you likely have an overabundance of herbs that you can’t seem to use fast enough. To store your herbs for later use, dry them in the microwave! Place washed herbs between two layers of paper towels, and microwave on full power for 2 to 3 minutes. This is a great way to dry your herbs as you retain more of its flavor!
13. Make your own dried fruits
The microwave is the perfect appliance to use for dehydrating small amounts of fruit. Simply cut your fruit into small slices and place directly on the rotating plate of the microwave (which should be thoroughly cleaned and dried). Set the microwave on the DEFROST setting and microwave for 30 minutes. It’s very important to set it to defrost, otherwise your slices will be burnt to a crisp!
14. Bake a (mug) cake for one
What do you do when you have a craving for cake, but don’t want to bake a massive one just for yourself? You make a single-serving mini-cake in the microwave, of course! In a large microwave-safe mug, mix ¼ cup flour, ¼ cup sugar, 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/8 tsp baking soda, and 1/8 tsp salt. Stir in 3 Tbsp milk, 2 Tbsp canola oil, 1 Tbsp water, and ¼ tsp vanilla extract. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the center of the cake is cooked.
15. Sterilize soil
If you have green fingers, then you’ll appreciate this quick sterilization method. When planting new seeds, it’s important to sterilize the soil first, as it gets rid of harmful pests, weed seeds, and potential pathogens. Simply put your soils in a microwave-safe container (sized at about 1-quart or 1 liter), cover with plastic wrap and poke a few holes for ventilation. Microwave 90 seconds for each pound of dirt. It’s now ready for new seeds!