There’s nothing quite like the convenience of microwaving a meal. Whether you’re reheating leftovers or cooking frozen food, it’s just so easy to zap it and eat it. But to get the best result from the microwave, you must be sure to use it correctly. That includes deciding whether or not to cover your food while microwaving.
When it comes to the question of whether you should microwave with the lid on or off, it is a good idea to keep your food covered lightly. Covering your food will help to distribute heat more evenly and prevents moisture from escaping, which helps keep food moist and doesn’t overcook. It also helps to reduce splatter and keeps your microwave clean.
This is the short answer to the question of whether or not you should microwave with the lid on or off. For more detailed explanations plus tips and tricks on how to cover food in the microwave, read on.
4 Reasons to Cover Food in the Microwave
There are at least four good reasons to cover food in the microwave. They include:
1. Keeps Your Food From Drying Out
One of the main reasons to cover food in the microwave is to keep it from drying out. When food is exposed to microwaves, the water molecules in the food start to vibrate and create steam. If you don’t cover your food, the steam will escape and your food can dry out. By covering your food with a lid that’s not too tight, you help to keep the steam in, which helps the food stay moist.
2. Help Kills Bacteria
Another reason to cover your food is to help kill bacteria. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, bacteria can only be killed when heated to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. When you cover your food in the microwave, it traps heat inside and helps raise the internal temperature of the food, making it more effective at killing bacteria.
3. Promote Even Cooking
Covering your food also promotes even cooking. If you don’t cover your food, some parts will be exposed to more direct heat than others, leading to uneven cooking. By covering your food and trapping it in the heat, you ensure that all parts of the dish are cooked evenly.
4. Prevents Splatter and Mess in Your Microwave
Some foods, like sauces and soups, have a tendency to bubble and spatter when microwaved.
Nobody likes having to scrub dried-on bits of food out of their microwaves. By covering your food and containing any potential splatter, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and hassle down the road.
What Can You Use to Cover Your Food in the Microwave?
The options for covering food in the microwave are endless. Here are a few of the most popular ways to cover food in the microwave:
1. Glass Containers
Glass containers are a great option for reheating food in the microwave. They won’t absorb any of the flavors or odors from your food, and they’re easy to clean. Some examples of glass containers that are safe for use in the microwave include Corningware and Pyrex.
2. Ceramic Plates
Ceramic plates are another good option for covering food in the microwave. They won’t absorb any of the flavors or odors from your food, and they’re also easy to clean. Just make sure that the plate is safe to use in the microwave. You can usually find this information on the bottom of the plate.
3. Silicone Lids
What makes silicone lids so great is that they’re reusable and don’t take up much space in your kitchen. Plus, they come in a variety of sizes, so you can easily find one that fits your dish. Just make sure to use microwave-safe silicone lids.
4. Paper Towels
Believe it or not, paper towels are one of the most popular ways to cover food in the microwave. Just make sure to use unbleached paper towels so that you don’t have to worry about any chemicals leaching into your food.
5. Wax Paper
Wax paper is another good option for covering your food in the microwave—just make sure it’s uncoated wax paper. It is best used to cover meat and fruit.
6. Plastic Wrap
Out of all the coverings on this list, plastic wrap is probably the most seen. It’s a good option if you want to cover fish and vegetables. Just make sure to use microwave-safe plastic wrap. You can check the label to see if it’s safe for microwaving.
7. Parchment Paper
Similar to wax paper, parchment paper is also a good option for covering your food in the microwave. Both white and brown parchment paper are safe for use in the microwave.
8. Microwave Cooking Bags
These are special bags designed for use in the microwave. They come pre-treated with a special coating for holding in the maximum amount of moisture. For example, when you reheat steak umms in one of these bags, it’ll come out perfectly moist (related: Are Steak Umms microwaveable and how can it be done?).
What You Can’t Use to Cover Your Food in the Microwave
It’s important to note that not everything is safe for use in the microwave. Here are some items that you should never use to cover your food in the microwave:
1. Brown Paper, Newspaper, or Brown Paper Bags
Brown paper, newspaper, and brown paper bags are not safe for use in the microwave. These items are highly flammable and can easily catch fire if exposed to high temperatures. In addition, anything with ink on it can release toxic fumes when heated.
2. Anything Metallic
Metallic items are never safe to use in the microwave. This includes metal pans and metal utensils. The metallic particles can cause sparks, which can potentially start a fire.
3. Non-Microwave Safe Plastic Containers
Plastic containers are not all created equal. Non-microwave-safe plastic containers can melt when exposed to high temperatures, which can release toxins into your food. To ensure safety, always use microwave-safe plastic containers when reheating food in the microwave.
4. Styrofoam Containers
Styrofoam containers are not safe for use in the microwave. The material can leach chemicals into your food when exposed to high temperatures. If you want to use a styrofoam container, make sure it’s labeled as microwave-safe.
Cover Your Food Loosely
One important thing to remember when covering your food in the microwave is to cover it loosely. A tight cover will cause steam to build up inside it, eventually exploding out of the container or lid as pressure builds up. This can lead to messy splatters on the walls and ceiling of your microwave as well as potential burns if you are standing nearby when this happens.
To avoid this type of mess while still providing adequate coverage for your food, use a loose-fitting lid or vent your containers by poking a few holes in them. This will allow steam to escape while still trapping enough heat within the container so that you get evenly cooked food without any risk of explosions!
So there you have it—four compelling reasons why you should always cover your food when reheating it in the microwave. Not only will it taste better, but it will also be more sanitary and easier to clean up afterwards. So next time you’re reheating leftovers or cooking a quick meal, make sure to grab a plate or lid and give your food a little coverage!