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Because microwave ovens make it easy to cook and warm many types of food, they get extra use during the busy holiday season. Make sure you can count on your time-saving friend in the midst of the holiday rush by caring for your microwave year-round. Here are some smart ways to take care of and maintain one your favorite appliances:
• Keeping your microwave clean is not only important for food safety and for appearances, but it can help your appliance run more efficiently and prevent damage to the interior caused by burned foods. Avoid using abrasive cleaners, which can scratch the finish, and cover your food when possible to minimize splatters. There are several natural ways to clean microwaves, including using baking soda and vinegar. Be sure to clean the exterior, too, but be careful and don’t let water or liquid cleaners get between the touchpad and the machine. Remember to clean the turntable and door glass, and check underneath periodically for fallen food particles.
• Don’t operate your microwave oven when it’s empty. Damage to your appliance can be caused when there’s no food or liquid to absorb the microwaves.
• When you’re in a hurry, it’s easy to inadvertently close the door too hard. In addition to damaging the latch and door assembly, you can actually blow a fuse by slamming the door. It’s best to cancel the operation or the timer before you open the door to retrieve food. And always remember to use pot holders or oven mitts when touching containers that have been inside the microwave.
• If you have a counter or shelf microwave, make sure it’s positioned to allow air to circulate freely around it. Avoid crowding the microwave with other appliances, dishes, cookbooks, and other kitchen items. Before purchasing a microwave, carefully measure the space where it will sit and purchase an appropriately sized model for the area.
• Plug your microwave into an electrical surge protector, or unplug it when it’s not in use. This will help protect the appliance from power fluctuations. Check the electrical cord from time to time to make sure that it hasn’t become frayed or cracked.
• Did you know that using the pre-set cooking times on the touchpad can actually help your microwave work more efficiently and save energy? It can also help you avoid cooking accidents. Use the pre-set times when thawing foods, too.
• If your model has a charcoal filter, be sure to change it regularly. Check your owner’s manual for instructions, but many filters should be changed every six months or sooner, depending on how often the microwave is used. Be sure to clean the grease filter per manufacturers instructions too. Many grease filters can be easily removed and soaked in hot water and dishwashing liquid. Keeping the filters clean can help your appliance run efficiently and may add to its lifespan.
• Don’t dry non-food items in the microwave. While it can be tempting to try to dry small clothing items quickly in the microwave, some materials can flame and cause damage to the appliance, to your home, or even to people.
• Be careful what you put inside the appliance. It’s important to use only dishes and containers that are specifically labeled as being safe for microwave use. Avoid putting anything made of metal inside the microwave (especially cutlery) or anything that is covered with aluminum foil.
Related: 11 Things You Should Never Put in the Microwave
• Listen for unusual noises from your microwave, which may indicate that a belt is failing or that the motor needs to be checked. Pay attention to the buzzer or bell that alerts you when a cooking cycle is finished, and remove the food promptly. There are some minor microwave repairs and replacements that homeowners can handle themselves, such as light bulb changes and turn-table replacements. However, if anything electronic is involved, it’s probably best to call a qualified professional for help. Always disconnect power to the microwave when working on it or when cleaning it. With proper care and use, you should be able to depend on your microwave for many holiday seasons to come.
There are some minor microwave repairs and replacements that homeowners can handle themselves, such as light bulb changes and turn-table replacements. However, if anything electronic is involved, it’s probably best to call a qualified professional for help. Always disconnect power to the microwave when working on it or when cleaning it. With proper care and use, you should be able to depend on your microwave for many holiday seasons to come.
Bonus: Easy Parmesan Cheese Chips RecipeIngredients:
• Two tablespoons or so of shredded Parmesan cheese for each chip (shredded works better than finely grated cheese)
• Vegetable, olive or canola spray
• If desired, before cooking you can sprinkle the tops of the chip with herbs (rosemary and thyme work well), a sprinkling of cayenne pepper or black pepper, or poppy seeds for added taste and texture.
• To make one chip at a time, spray a microwave-safe small saucer or bread dish with vegetable, olive or canola spray.
• Then, spread about two tablespoons of the shredded Parmesan cheese on the dish in a circle to form an even layer.
• To make several chips at a time, spray the bottom of a larger microwaveable plate or dish with vegetable, olive or canola spray, and form several Parmesan cheese circles. The circles will spread slightly when heated, so don’t place them too closely together.
• Pop the dish with the cheese circle or circles into the microwave oven, and cook on high power for about 30 to 45 seconds, depending on your microwave. The cheese chips should be lightly browned on top when done, with a crispy texture.(Try cooking for 30 seconds first, and then add 10-second cooking increments until the cheese chips reach the desired doneness.)
• Let the chips cool slightly before removing.
These treats store well, covered, in the refrigerator for a few days. Serve as snacks, along with salads, or as croutons for soup. These also make great holiday gifts when festively packaged. Place the chips on a brightly colored paper or plastic plate, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and tie with ribbon. The people on your gift list will appreciate a savory treat instead of the usual cookies and candies.
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