Welcome to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service "Food Safety At Home" podcast series, featuring topics for the safe handling, preparation and storage of meat, poultry and processed egg products. So, sit back, turn up the volume and listen in.
Some microwave ovens are small, and some are large. Some cook fast, and some cook faster. The size of the oven doesnt always correspond with the cooking speed. But its important to know how fast your oven cooks.
Thats because food needs to reach a safe temperature to destroy bacteria before you eat it. How many minutes should you microwave food? Package cooking instructions and recipes give a range of microwave times. You need to choose the correct cooking time based on your ovens power.
The speed of the microwave depends on the wattage. This number is measured in numbers such as 700 watts or 1100 watts. The higher the number, the faster the oven will cook food. If you dont know your microwaves wattage, try looking for it in several places. You might find it:
- on the inside of the oven's door,
- on the serial number plate on the back of the oven, or
- in the owner's manual. If you cant find or no longer have your manual, check the manufacturers website. Many appliance manufacturers maintain copies of their products owner manuals on their websites.
If you cant locate the wattage in any of these places, you can do a "Time-to-Boil" test to estimate the wattage. Heres how:
- Measure 1 cup of water in a 2-cup measuring glass. Add ice cubes; stir until water is ice cold. Discard ice cubes and pour out any water more than 1 cup.
- Set the microwave on high for 4 minutes, but watch the water through the window to see when it boils.
- If water boils in less than 2 minutes, it is a very high wattage oven - 1000 watts or more.
- If water boils in 2½ minutes, it is a high wattage oven - about 800 watts or more.
- If water boils in 3 minutes, it is an average wattage oven - 650 to 700 watts or more.
- If water boils in more than 3 minutes or not by 4 minutes, it is a slow oven - 300 to 500 watts.
Use the minimum cooking time given for your wattage oven. The minimum cooking time may even need to be reduced for very high wattages.
Some foods will not reach a safe internal temperature if you do not follow the cooking instructions on the package, putting everyone at high risk for food poisoning. Always read and follow package cooking instructions for you ovens wattage to prepare food safely!
Check your steps at
FoodSafety.gov to see how you can decrease your risk of food poisoning.
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