Today's Foodie question is from Brenda McGillivray who writes:
This is more a comment on something that I observed recently, instead of a question...although I think (in my mind) I am still questioning it?!! I attended a cooking class recently with some friends and the Chef was preparing a dessert with white chocolate...he was mixing it in a stainless steel mixing bowl and needed to warm it a little. He turned around to the microwave oven and placed the bowl in for a few seconds....everyone's jaws dropped...none of us believed what we were seeing!!! He explained to us "if a magnet doesn't stick to it, you can place it in a microwave". Have you ever tried this before? I am truly hesitant to give it a shot.
Thanks for your fantastic "Foodie File" my husband and I are learning and enjoying all the information that comes from your messages!"
You can technically put metal in a microwave however I would not recommend it unless you have a fire extinguisher close by. When you are cooking food in a microwave, the microwave energy is absorbed into the food making the electrons in the food vibrate and heat up or "cook."
Metal reflects microwaves, therefore any food covered in metal will stay cool. Metal in a microwave can become electrically charged; if the metal is something smooth (say like a stainless steel bowl) the charge will run around the outside of the bowl and you will probably not see it. However if some pointy or jagged metal was in the microwave, (say like a fork) you most likely will see sparks fly - this is called "arcing." Arcing will often occurr when you put your fine china with the fancy gilt edging in the microwave, which is a pretty good way of ruining it by the way, the very thin metal will most likely melt and get pitted from the heat. The problem with putting metal in the microwave is that if the metal arcs, the other items in the oven could catch on fire.
Here are a few microwave myths debunked:
- Cooking with metal will make you micowave explode: This is in fact not true, as a matter of fact they are actually constructed of metal. If you put metal in a microwave oven you may see sparks but this will not ruin your oven, although as stated above could start a fire which if gotten out of hand could indeed ruin your microwave.
- You cannot put aluminum foil in a microwave oven: In fact, foil can work to your advantage in a microwave. The metal will inhibit the microwaves and protect that part of your food from being cooked.
- A microwave is a good way to boil water: Not a good idea to boil water or any clear unadulterated liquid in a microwave, the water can heat past the boiling point without displaying boiling action due to a phenomenon called super heating which happens when a liquid heats up faster than vapour bubbles can form. The result is an explosion of super hot liquid when it is moved or something (like say a tea bag or stir stick) lands in the undisturbed water. You may read that this doesn't often happen but this has infact happened to me twice - once with water and once with super hot melted butter.
- Just because I said you can put metal in a microwave don't go putting a tin can in there! It's not the metal that is the problem in this scenario, it' s the closed container - it will explode when the contents heat up and expand, same goes for eggs in the shell and potatoes in their skin that haven't been pierced.
Feel free to ask me any of your food-related questions, just leave a comment on any post in the Foodie-file. You will find a lot more answers to cooking questions under the Foodies Ask category of the Foodie-file.