Food - Drink
What Makes Food ‘Erupt’ In Your Microwave?
By KATHERINE BECK
Microwaves might be the handiest kitchen tool ever invented, but for all their convenience, these appliances are difficult to clean and don't heat up food very evenly, causing explosions, eruptions, and a lot of time spent scrubbing. Here's why your food spits and pops in the microwave, and how to avoid it.
Microwaves work by using small radio waves to excite particles of water, fat, and sugar in food; when these particles jump around, it creates heat. Eruptions happen when the liquid in food becomes hotter than its boiling point, creating steam; if that steam can’t escape, pressure will build and your food will explode.
This phenomenon is why we poke holes in a potato or peel back a container’s lid in order to vent steam in the microwave. Also, when a liquid is heated to almost-boiling, it can be pushed over the edge by motion or adding another ingredient; be careful when taking hot water out of the microwave and adding instant coffee or tea to it.
To avoid eruptions and having to clean your microwave all the time, the USDA recommends heating up food or drink in a vessel with sloping sides, and microwaving in shorter intervals while stirring your food frequently. In addition to this, you can also cover your food with a microwave-safe lid or paper towel.