8 Weird Ways To Use Your Microwave

Defrosting Lean Cuisine and popping popcorn? Pshaw! That's just the microwave's day job. According to the Daily Mail, the 46-year-old kitchen appliance also moonlights as a dryer, a cramp reliever, even a gardening tool. Let's take a look at some highlights on the microwave's under-the-radar resume:

It peels vegetables: Rich winter stews call for peeled tomatoes but meticulous peeling is a drag. After washing and cutting tomatoes in half, place them cut-side down in the microwave and heat for five minutes until the skin has shriveled around the edges. Then, gently slide them off with a fork or even your fingernails.

It warms bath towels: Baby, it's cold outside! Post-shower, warm up quicker by placing slightly damp towels in a large ziplock bag, then pop them in the microwave for a couple of minutes. "Not all plastic bags are microwave-safe so check the box first," says Snyder.

It gets gum off your clothes: Parents will love this—if your kid got chewing gum stuck on their clothes (or, ahem, yours), warm one cup of vinegar in the microwave for a minute or so, then dab it on the gum with a clean cloth until it's gone. Presto!

It soothes menstrual cramps: You can always use a heating pad if you have killer period cramps but if you don't own one, fill a large cotton sock with a mix of grains or lentils and sew the open end closed. Pop it in the microwave for two minutes, then place on your abdomen. Sweet relief! "Since beans have a low water content, place a glass of water in the microwave so the water will produce friction, absorbing the radiation and helping to warm the towel," says Sue Snyder, Ph.D., Professor of Animal and Food Sciences at the University of Delaware. 

It sterilizes soil: Got a green thumb? Head to the kitchen before the garden. Before planting seedlings, sterilize your soil to remove bacteria so your seeds thrive. Spread about 400g of soil on a flat, non-metal dish, then heat on high until the soil starts steaming. "Make sure the soil is thoroughly stirred so the heat dissipates throughout. You'll have to experiment with how long you cook it but heating for 90 seconds will at least reduce the amount of bacteria," says Snyder.  

It dries herbs: Keep thyme and oregano fresh by drying them out in the microwave. Just wash, then lie them out on a paper towel, heating in 30 seconds blasts until they're dry.

It cooks scrambled eggs and bacon: Make an easy breakfast with barely any clean up. Mix eggs and a tablespoon of milk in a microwavable bowl and stir. Cook on full power for a minute, remove and stir, then heat in 30-seconds blasts (stirring after each) until you have a solid scramble. "When cooking eggs, make sure the internal temperature of the microwave is 160 degrees," says Snyder. "While you're stirring the eggs in between heating, stick a thermometer in there to test the temperature."  For the bacon, simply place a few strips on a plate and nuke for two and a half minutes.

It freshens up packaged food: Don't toss stale crackers and cereal. Pour on a plate and zap in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Remember to keep your owner's manual which contains information about your microwave's wattage (It varies depending on your machine) and regularly clean your microwave to avoid grease build-up which can be a fire hazard.

Visit the Food and Drug Administration for more on microwave safety.