Paper towels can provide much-needed cover and protection when heating foods in the microwave. They can prevent potential splatter from exploding food and offer a security blanket to snugly wrap a loaded breakfast biscuit so it doesn’t spill out during the cooking process. Paper towels even help keep steam in so that microwaved hot dogs and other items warm more evenly and retain moisture.
But if you’re going to employ paper towels in the microwaving process, there is a best practice approach you should always bear in mind. While most paper towels are microwave-safe, manufacturers recommend heating your food at shorter time intervals if you are using them. The purpose isn’t just to ensure that the paper towel continues to hold up well as it heats. As it turns out, if paper towels are nuked in the microwave for several minutes or more, they can catch fire and ruin more than just your meal.
To mitigate the fire risk, it is advisable to microwave foods at two-minute intervals. Take further caution and don’t fold or stack paper towels in the microwave, which may potentially start a fire. Additionally, there are certain types of paper towels that shouldn’t be used at all in the microwave. Recycled products and those with printing could present a possible safety hazard and should be avoided.
Of course, a fire is a worst-case scenario that simple precautions can easily avert, but you should also be aware that because they are absorbent, paper towels are likely to soak up liquids from the meals you cook, making them scalding hot to the touch. Remember to grab an oven mitt or heating pad to remove any paper towel-covered foods and spare those precious hands any unnecessary burns. Encasing your food in a paper towel cocoon can do wonders to maintain a clean microwave and lock in steam and moisture. Just don’t forget to adhere to the two-minute rule and be careful when removing whatever you’re heating up.
Article by Colin McCandless for Mashed™
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