Microwaves, advertised to be "the greatest cooking discovery since fire," can be found in almost every American home.
And I recommend that you never use one!
There are many reasons why microwaves should be avoided (read: remove them from your house), including lost nutrition, creation of free radicals and carcinogens, and radiation leakage. These effects are well documented in studies. If you are interested in researching this more, try starting with this article and it's references. But today we are not going to debate the safety of microwaves, but bring back the lost art of reheating food without a microwave.
When I first decided to ditch my microwave I had to experiment with reheating food. Before that moment I don't think I had ever reheated food outside of a microwave. I had a lot to learn. But that was years ago, and reheating food without a microwave is second-nature to me now... I don't have to think about it.
Today I want to share with you what I've learned, so you too can practice this lost art. Choosing which reheat method to use depends on several factors, but in reality, there is more than one way to reheat a dish!
With practice you will be choosing your reheating option without thinking about it.
Basic reheating options are:
The method that you choose depends on what you want to reheat, how much time you have, what options you have available, and how hot your house is already (this is a real consideration for me in the summertime because I do not have central air). Again, with time you will figure out which methods work for you. There are no wrong answers—just ones that work better than others.
Use these guidelines to get started:
Keep the heat low: high heat = greater risk of dry, burnt food
Cover the food to retain moisture
Use a steamer basket to reheat vegetables or pasta
Add a little water or fat if your food is dry
Reheat your food in animal fat (bonus: this adds to the nutrition)
For larger amounts a slow, covered reheat in the oven is efficient
Use a toaster oven or oven to make food crispy
When bringing food to a party in a slow cooker, heat before leaving
Reheat in a slow cooker using the medium or high (not warm) setting
Place glass jars of frozen soup in water and bring to a boil together
Tips for cleaning and caring for your cookware:
Soak glass and metal cookware to save on scrubbing time
If food is stuck in the pot or pan, add a couple of inches of water to it and bring to a boil; allow to boil for a few minutes then wash the dish in hot running water (be careful not to burn yourself!)
Avoid putting cold water on a hot glass or cast-iron dish
Wash pots and pans (including cast-iron) immediately using hot water
Special care for cast-iron:
Do not use soap
Dry immediately after washing (may use the stovetop)
Always renew the fat "seasoning" on the cast-iron after every rinse
I hope this has given you the courage to begin reheating your food without a microwave. It is not difficult, it is simply a habit change. You can do it!
If you're unsure of how to reheat something, ask in the comments below!