Preventing Explosions in the Microwave

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 19,821
    Microwave expert Sue Snider discusses how to prevent explosions in the microwave.

    Sue Snider: I am Sue Snider, University of Delaware, department of Animal and Food Sciences. We are talking about microwave cooking of foods. This segment deals with those explosions that occur in your microwave oven. I dont know if you have ever been microwaving something and all of a sudden you just hear this huge explosion and you go and look and something has happened, part of the food has exploded, its not dangerous from the standpoint of eating the food or anything like that, but it produces a real mess in your microwave oven. This occurs when the water in the food is heated very rapidly, it produces steam and steam expands. It has to have some place to go. So if you are cooking something like this vegetable and you put a plastic wrap over it and you have sealed it up really right, steam is produced and there is no way this steam is going to escape except through the plastic wrap so you can actually get this plastic wrap splitting due to the build up of the steam. Any food that has a skin or a membrane can also explode in the microwave oven. Good examples of this are the foods, three foods we have here, something like frankfurters, potatoes that have a peel and even something like an egg. This egg, the egg yolk has a membrane on it and to safely microwave that you need to just take a fork and pierce it. That will promote the steam escaping from the holes. The same thing with the potato, you just need to pierce it in a number of places, also the same thing with the hot dog, just pierce it in a number of places and the steam will have a place to escape. One of the other things that can happen that can be quite dangerous in microwaving is something we call superheated water. If I put this glass of water into microwave, it may reach a boiling temperature without really showing that it's boiling. So the steam that is built up inside the water and when I take and move this water, all of sudden the water just explodes. Here the real concern is burning due to scalding. We have talked about ways of making sure that your food is vented so that steam can escape when the food is cooked in the microwave. Next we are going to talk about safe microwaving for children.