You’re a busy woman, which means that time-saving hacks in the kitchen aren’t just helpful—they’re a damn necessity. Enter our trusty microwave, which can whip up creamy mashed potatoes, gooey mac and cheese and single-serving chocolate chip cookies in practically no time. But there are some things that our favorite kitchen appliance just can’t do. Here, seven foods you should never microwave.
1. Eggs In Their Shell
“But I don’t have time to wait for water to boil,” you argue as you carefully place a couple of whole eggs into a microwave-safe bowl. Until you discover that zapping eggs in their shells means that the steam has nowhere to go and you’re now faced with a giant egg-splosion. You’re better off boiling these guys or quickly nuking (already-cracked) eggs.
Apparently our favorite cruciferous vegetable doesn’t fare so well in the microwave (yep, this one surprised us, too). That’s because when compared with other methods of cooking, microwaving broccoli destroys more nutrients. For a quick side with more folate and vitamin C, try steaming or lightly sautéeing it instead.
3. Breast Milk
As any nursing mom knows, keeping a stash of frozen milk in the freezer is a total godsend. But the FDA advises against microwaving breast milk—it might heat up unevenly and create hot spots that could scald your kiddo. Instead, thaw it in the fridge or under running water. (Oh, and the no-microwave rule applies to infant formula, too.)
4. Anything That’s Been Microwaved a Few Times
So, here’s the thing: You can actually safely reheat food multiple times, as long as the internal temperature reaches at least 165°F. But just know that the quality of your food will decrease each time (think: soggy noodles and dried-out chicken). Your best bet? Only reheat the amount you think you’ll eat in one sitting (you can always heat up more later). Also, all leftovers should be eaten within four days, our friends at the USDA tell us.
Wait, hear us out on this one. It’s not that fruit can’t be put in the microwave; it’s just that you’ll need to be careful when it comes to whole fruits. That’s because nuking fruits like grapes, peaches and apples in their skin doesn’t allow moisture to escape, which means, yep, you guessed it—molten jam all over the place. Play it safe by chopping fruit up first or poking a few holes in the skin before microwaving.
6. Hot Peppers
Weird fact: When hot peppers are heated in the microwave, it can cause capsaicin (the chemical that gives them their kick) to be released into the air. A burning throat and eyes for the next day and a half? Thanks, but no thanks.
7. Frozen Meat
Oops. You could have sworn that you took that ground beef out this morning, but your BBQ guests are coming over in an hour and it’s still sitting in your freezer’s bottom drawer. Relax—thawing frozen meat in the microwave is totally fine, says the USDA, as long as you cook it immediately afterward. Nuking it and then letting it sit on the counter for 30 minutes while you get the grill started? Not a good idea.