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With every microwave oven I have ever had, it has come with a plastic thing that you are (apparently) supposed to put over the food when microwaving it.

Some food products mention this and tell you to do it in the instructions, but most don't mention it whatsoever. I always use it except when it explicitly tells me not to.

However, what is the purpose of it? Is it purely to prevent splashing, messy liquids from popping all over the insides of the microwave oven? So it's only needed in such cases? Or does it have some kind of practical purpose related to heating the food?

Do the microwaves get blocked slightly from the plastic? Is this a good thing? Or is it for keeping the hot air very close to the food? Is it only really "used" after the heating is done and the food is cooling off inside the microwave oven, inside the plastic cover?

The plastic "cover" always has a pretty big hole in the centre of the top, or many small holes in the top.

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    $\begingroup$ Is this a country-dependent thing? In the UK I have never owned a microwave with anything like that, neither have I ever seen instructions on food products to use it. $\endgroup$
    – alephzero
    Jun 11 '20 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ I find putting clingfilm over open containers works to stop spatter... Prevention is much easier than cleaning spatter :) even just laying a plastic lid over works. $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Jun 12 '20 at 8:31
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Do you mean something like this?

enter image description here

It's simply to cover food that is likely to spatter (e.g. soup) when microwaved and make a mess of your microwave, which is not always that easy to clean. See this one for example on Amazon. The holes are vent holes to allow the steam to escape. I'm not aware however of any cover being supplied with the microwave, you generally have to buy them separately.

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