How do you heat up leftovers in your microwave? If your family is like ours, we ladle up leftovers onto a regular old dinner plate before popping them in the oven to reheat for two or three minutes. Dinner plates are easy and convenient to use since they can go straight from the microwave to the table.
While most everyday dishes are microwave safe, there are certain types of dishes that don’t belong in a microwave oven. Here are a few discoveries that I have made over the years.
Metal rimmed china or ceramics
Metal is a no-no for any microwave oven, including those lovely Sunday dishes with gold or silver leaf embellishments that make up part of the design. The metal on these dishes will spark in the microwave leaving behind white flash-marks on the silver or gold leafing that can not be buffed out or repaired. Likewise, ceramic casseroles with metal knobs or handles also don’t belong in the microwave since you can damage both the metal and the microwave as well.
Vintage fine china
If you are lucky enough to have a set of Grandma’s old antique dishes, be sure to keep them far away from the microwave too. While the microwave itself won’t hurt the dishes, it’s the high temperatures of boiling liquids or super heated food lead that can cause a plate to crack in half.
Melamine that isn’t marked “microwave safe”
Whether it’s a set of vintage plastic plates you found at a thrift store or a contemporary set purchased brand new, melmac and melamine dishes are generally not safe for microwave unless they are stamped as “microwave safe.” Many plastic dishes are made of harmful chemicals that will leach into the food during microwave heating. Some plastic dishes will even melt in the microwave, leaving behind a nasty smell that is tough to remove.
Low fired ceramics
While most ceramics are fine for the microwave, a ceramic plate or cup that has been “low fired” may soak up moisture into the clay body which can expand and possibly explode during microwave use. From Ceramics Today (Dishwasher & Microwave Safety for Ceramics), I discovered the way to tell if one of your ceramic pieces have been low fired ceramic by rapping on it with a knuckle. If it has a clear ring, then it’s probably safe to microwave. If the sound is dull, then it’s best not to risk it.
The one minute test for microwave safeness
As far as the rest of the dishes in your kitchen cabinet, there’s a simple test for microwave safeness:
* Place the dish in the microwave
* Fill a glass measuring cup with water and set on the plate
* Turn the microwave on for one minute
* Carefully touch the plate. If it’s cool then the plate is microwave safe. If it’s hot, then it’s not safe for the microwave.
The best test for microwave safety is to look on the back of the dishes since most dishes do carry a “microwave safe” stamp on the back. For those that don’t (especially hand painted or hand thrown dishes) be sure to ask about microwave safety at the time of purchase.
More by this contributor:
How to prep your dinnerware for the holidays
How to remove gray marks from your dishes
How to prevent dishes from breaking in the sink.