As with conventional cooking, moisture evaporates during
microwave cooking. Casserole lids or plastic wrap are used for
a tighter seal. When using plastic wrap, vent the plastic wrap
by folding back part of the plastic wrap from the edge of the
dish to allow steam to escape. Loosen or remove plastic wrap
as recipe directs for stand time. When removing plastic wrap
covers, as well as any glass lids, be careful to remove them
away from you to avoid steam burns. Various degrees of mois-
ture retention are also obtained by using wax paper or paper
Thin areas of meat and poultry cook more quickly than meaty
portions. To prevent overcooking, these thin areas can be
shielded with strips of aluminum foil. Wooden toothpicks may
be used to hold the foil in place.
is to be exercised when using foil. Arcing can
occur if foil is too close to oven wall or door and damage to
your oven will result.
A range of cooking time is given in each recipe. The time
range compensates for the uncontrollable differences in food
shapes, starting temperature, and regional preferences.
Always cook food for the minimum cooking time given in a
recipe and check for doneness. If the food is undercooked,
continue cooking. It is easier to add time to an undercooked
product. Once the food is overcooked, nothing can be done.
Stirring is usually necessary during microwave cooking. Always
bring the cooked outside edges toward the center and the less
cooked center portions toward the outside of the dish.
Rearrange small items such as chicken pieces, shrimp, ham-
burger patties, or pork chops. Rearrange pieces from the edge
to the center and pieces from the center to the edge of the
It is not possible to stir some foods to distribute the heat even-
ly. At times, microwave energy will concentrate in one area of
the food. To help insure even cooking, these food need to be
turned. Turn over large foods, such as roasts or turkeys,
halfway through cooking.
Most foods will continue to cook by conduction after the
microwave oven is turned off. In meat cookery, the internal
temperature will rise 5°F to 15°F (3°C to 8°C), if allowed to
stand, tented with foil, for 10 to 15 minutes. Casseroles and
vegetables need a shorter amount of standing time, but this
standing time is necessary to allow foods to complete cooking
to the center without overcooking on the edges.
Test for Doneness
The same tests for doneness used in conventional cooking
may be used for microwave cooking. Meat is done when fork-
tender or splits at fibers. Chicken is done when juices are clear
yellow and drumstick moves freely. Fish is done when it flakes
and is opaque. Cake is done when a toothpick or cake tester is
inserted and comes out clean.
ABOUT FOOD SAFETY AND COOKING
• Check foods to see that they are cooked to the United States
Department of Agriculture's recommended temperatures.
To test for doneness, insert a meat thermometer in a thick or
dense area away from fat or bone. NEVER leave the ther-
mometer in the food during cooking, unless it is approved for
microwave oven use.
...for fresh pork, ground meat, boneless white
poultry, fish, seafood, egg dishes and frozen
...for leftover, ready-to-reheat refrigerated, and
deli and carryout "fresh" food.
...white meat of poultry.
...dark meat of poultry.