5 Things you never knew your microwave can do

Jen Klein

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Nearly all of us have microwaves in our homes. They are smaller, faster and more efficient than ever before. But when was the last time you actually used your microwave for something other than defrosting, reheating or popcorn?

Microwave oven

Not recently, huh? That's what I thought.

Microwaves are indeed excellent for defrosting and reheating -- and popcorn -- but they can be used for more than that. Although we are well past the microwave cooking craze of the 1980s (and all the specialty items needed for it), the microwave can still do more for you than you knew, and without the gadgets. And…not all of them are related to eating!

Microwave Task 1

Perfectly steamed vegetables

Microwave steamed vegetables retain more nutrients than stovetop steamed vegetables. Place similar sized veggies in a glass bowl, add some water and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the microwave and cook on high for several minutes. Let stand, then drain and serve.

Microwave Task 2

Make that lemon juicier

Need a full tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and the lemon you have feels too firm? Place it in the microwave for 15-20 second and you'll get more juice out of the lemon. It works for limes, too!

Microwave Task 3

Sterilize kitchen sponge

Kitchen sponges can get icky fast. Place a very damp sponge in the microwave for no more than two minutes and you'll zap all those germs to kingdom-come!

Microwave Task 4

Melt cosmetic wax

Trying to tame the budget by tackling your own waxing? You can use the microwave to melt your wax -- so much faster than the stovetop double-boiler method. Make sure your wax is in a microwave-proof container and place it in the microwave at 80% power for 5-10 seconds at a time. You'll be ripping in no time.

Microwave Task 5

Sterilize potting soil

For the serious gardener, the microwave is a terrific friend. Sometimes you need to sterilize soil before planting new seedlings, and the microwave can do it. Spread the soil on a large plate and microwave on high until steaming, 1-2 minutes.

Bonus task

Science experiments!

If you have a microwave on its last legs, letting your kids research and try microwave-based science experiments can be very educational -- and loads of geeky fun. From putting a bar of soap in the microwave to other, crazier items, let the microwave be used for science exploration -- with parental supervision, of course.

Defrosting, reheating -- and popcorn -- are great applications for your microwave, but don't limit your microwave use to just those activities. Make it a part of your life, both in and out of the kitchen!

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