Microwave tricks: Handy kitchen helpers

Microwave, busy woman, The Hot Mess Press

Just about every kitchen has a microwave, but I, and many people I know, hardly ever use it to prepare meals. However, apart from reheating leftovers, I have learned many ways to use my microwave to make my life easier. So much so that I would not want to be without it. Maybe one or more of these tricks can help you too.

Onion tears

Microwave the tears away

Do onions make you cry? Heat breaks down the chemicals in onions that cause watery eyes. However, 45 seconds of microwaving can make chopping onions a much more pleasant task. You can put the whole unpeeled onion in the microwave.

Garlic cloves

Let your microwave help with peeling garlic

Peeling garlic was one of my least favorite tasks in the kitchen. However, that changed when I learned that my micro friend can make peeling garlic effortless. All I do is put the entire bulb of garlic in the microwave. After 20 seconds, the cloves will pop right out of the skins without the mess of smelly, sticky and yucky garlic juices.

Lemon Squeezer

The microwave can double up the yield of citrus juice

Your microwave can put meaning to the easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy saying. If you need the juice of any citrus fruit, pop the fruit in the microwave at full power for about 20 seconds. After that, slice it in two and squeeze. You’ll be surprised at the little effort it takes to get twice the usual amount of juice from your lemon.

Bread dough

Your microwave’s role in home-baked bread

Wafts of freshly baked bread aroma are irresistible. Does baking bread seem daunting? Where would the ideal warm place be to let it rise? No more excuses! Here’s the trick. Place a bowl with water in the microwave and heat it for two minutes. Put your bread dough into the microwave along with the heated bowl of water. Make sure your dough is in a container that will allow it to double in size. The heat of the water in the closed microwave provides the perfect warm place to rise the dough.

Microwave roasting nuts

Do you toast nuts in a skillet?

Guess what. Your microwave can toast nuts more evenly than the skillet. Spread a single layer of nuts on a plate or directly onto the turntable. Microwave them on full power, but mix them after each minute. The aroma will let you know when they are ready.

Microwave Latte

Be your own barista

Sipping a foamy latte on a cold day is something special. Fortunately, with the help of your microwave, you can produce the perfect latte right there in your own kitchen. Grab a glass jar with a screw lid and fill it half-full of milk. Nuke it without the cover for one minute (depending on the jar’s size — it might need more than one minute to warm). Remove the container from the microwave, close the lid, and spend about 30 seconds shaking it vigorously. Pour the foamy result in a mug, add previously prepared espresso, and praise your own barista skills while you enjoy your frothy latte. To make it extra special, use a lacy paper doily as a stencil and sprinkle cacao powder on the foam.

Microwave Tacos

Transform tortillas into taco shells

Your microwave is the perfect tool to make crispy tacos from soft tortillas. Fold the tortilla lightly to fit it inside a tall microwave-safe mug or cup. Hit full power for one minute, and voila! A perfectly crunchy folded-over taco shell.

Honey crystalized

Has your honey crystallized?

The crystallizing of honey is natural due to the high sugar content. If you only use it occasionally, you will likely find it in a solid-state when next you need honey. However, medium microwave power can return the crystals into liquid in 30 to 60 seconds. It will once again be perfect for drizzling over cornbread, pancakes or in a cup of tea. Remember to remove the lid before heating it.

Microwave dry herbs

Use your microwave to dry herbs

Do you find hanging herbs or drying them in your oven too much effort? Here’s a quicker, easier way to ensure you have full-flavor herbs throughout the year. Place about four or five branches of herbs between paper towels in your microwave. Zap it on full power for two or three minutes. If it is still flexible, continue but check it after 30 seconds. The microwaves will evaporate the herbs’ water content without lowering the essential oils, aromas, and flavors. Remove them from the oven when they are dry and brittle. Let it cool on a rack before storing them in airtight containers.

You can go here, for tips on growing your own herbs.

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