When you have a recipe—or a cocktail—that calls for fresh-squeezed lemon, lime, or orange juice, give the fruit a quick blast in the microwave. Using the high setting for 20 to 30 seconds will soften the cell walls of the fruit, allowing you to extract significantly more juice than squeezing or reaming alone.
If your kitchen sponges are getting a bit nasty and smelly, don’t chuck them in the trash—clean and deodorize them in the microwave. Soak the sponges in water with a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice, then heat on high for about one minute. After they cool, remove the sponges from the microwave—they'll be as good as new!
Related: How To: Clean Your Cleaning Tools
Never let fresh herbs go to waste again with this quick tip for drying them in the microwave. Make sure all the water has been removed by patting them dry first—otherwise they’ll cook! Pick the leaves off the herbs, then sandwich them between two paper towels on top of a microwave-safe plate. Heat for about a minute. If they haven’t fully dried, continue to heat the herbs in 20-second bursts as necessary.
For most homeowners, microwave cooking is reserved for popcorn, frozen food, and leftovers. But for those who want to stretch the limits of their microwave's culinary power, there's the Microhearth Grill Pan, which allows you to sauté and grill with the push of a button. How does it work? The nonstick pan creates those delicious grill marks, while the vessel's ceramic-coating keeps out the microwaves that typically dry out food. Consider it a secret weapon for getting weekday dinners on the table in a snap. Available on Amazon ; $59.95.
The microwave provides a chemical-free solution for disinfecting plastic cutting boards used to prepare meat or fish. Wash the board well, rub it with the cut side of a lemon, and heat on high for one minute to kill the bacteria and get your cutting board fresh and clean.
Combine and Conquer
Attempting to shower with slivers of leftover soap is one of life’s little struggles. Combine the smaller pieces into one bar by nuking them in the microwave. Use a knife to chop the soap into smaller bits, and then put them in a microwave-safe container along with a few tablespoons of water. Heat for about 30 seconds, or until the soap has melted, and stir to combine. If you want to add a shape to your soap, pour the mixture into muffin tins or a mold, and let stand. The soap will harden, and voilà—a brand-new bar!
Soft and Sweet
Use the microwave to soften a solid lump of brown sugar. Keep the sugar in its plastic packaging, or place it in a zip-top plastic bag. Add a few drops of water, then heat on medium power for 10 to 20 seconds, repeating as needed. No plastic bag? No problem! You can also place the lump of hard sugar in a microwave-safe bowl with a damp paper towel on top. Heat on high at 15-second intervals until the sugar is soft and loose.
They say a watched pot never boils, but you don't have to worry about that with Fasta Pasta. This pasta cooker effectively turns your microwave into a stovetop so you can quickly whip up the perfect al dente dish with ease. Measure your pasta portions and then add the appropriate amount of water as indicated on the side of the container, and pop the entire thing into the microwave. When the microwave timer beeps, remove it, strain the water, and enjoy. Available on Amazon ; $14.99.
Dyeing fabric can be a tricky process, but the microwave can help. Mix your dye and warm water in a microwave-safe container, making sure you measure enough water to completely submerge the item you're dyeing. Soak your article of clothing in either vinegar or water—it depends on the type of dye you are using—then wring it out, and place it in the container. Cover the container with plastic wrap, and put it in the microwave for up to a minute. Keep a careful watch throughout this process—microwaves function at different powers, and you don’t want your plastic wrap to melt! When the process is finished, follow the directions that came with the dye to properly wash and dry your item.
flickr.com via Selena N.B.H.
Over time, honey can get grainy or crystallize into a hard, sugary mass. To liquefy the honey, remove the lid and place the honey jar in the microwave; if the container can't go in the microwave, transfer the honey to a microwave-safe dish. Heat on medium power for 30 seconds, and stir. Repeat at 30-second intervals, stirring each time, until the honey is soft and fluid again.
Sayonara to Soggy Leftovers
The microwave is many people's preferred choice for nuking leftovers, but even this quick cooker has its limits—never more apparent than when last night's pizza comes out soggy or the breaded chicken goes limp. The Reheatza promises to change that; designed specially for the microwave, it converts microwave energy into conductive heat so that it keeps crispy food, well, crispy. Available on Amazon; $39.73.
Craving something sweet but don't have the patience for baking and cleanup? Whip up a cake in under six minutes using the Betty Crocker microwave cake pan. The pan, along with an ingredient measuring dish, turns the hassle and mess of baking into a sweet, microwavable moment. Available on Amazon; $7.75.
Wax On, Wax Off
The decorative jar is often the main reason we purchase a candle, but removing the wax so the jar can be reused sometimes feels like an impossible task. Instead of chipping away at the wax to no avail, turn to the microwave for the solution. First, use a knife to remove as many of the large wax chunks from the jar as you possibly can. Then, checking first to make sure that the jar is microwave-safe, put it in the microwave for about 20 seconds. This will melt the wax so you can just use a paper towel to wipe it clean.
Related: 14 New Uses for Old Candles
Peel and Stick
Have you ever wasted a stamp because you made an error when addressing the envelope? This trick can help remedy that annoying, costly mistake. Pat a few drops of water on the stamp, then place the envelope in the microwave for 20 seconds on low power. The heat should loosen the adhesive, allowing you to peel the stamp off the envelope with ease.
How did we ever live before microwave ovens? Not just useful for reheating leftovers, now you can zip through chores with the help of a microwave.
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