Many of us have a microwave sitting in our kitchen, but if you only use it for heating up leftovers or warming up a cold coffee, you’re not using your appliance to its full potential. There are actually so many things that you can do with your microwave that can make your life easier.

Dry Fresh Herbs

If you have an herb garden, you have access to fresh herbs anytime you’re cooking, but there are times when you’ll have an excess. Whether you’re pruning your herbs or trimming back for winter, you can dry fresh herbs in your microwave. Simply spread out a cup of herbs on a paper towel and cook for approximately 3 minutes. The herbs will dry out, and you can wrap them in the paper towel to break them up for storing.

Soften Bread

If your bread is a little less than fresh, you don’t need to throw it out. You can soften up your bread with your microwave. Wrap it in a damp cloth or place on a damp paper towel and microwave in 10 second intervals until it reaches your preferred consistency.

Toast Spices and Nuts

Most chefs appreciate that toasted spices, nuts and seeds can add fantastic flavor to a recipe. Toasting draws out the flavors that are not detectable in an untoasted state, but this can be a challenge in a pan as it is very easy to burn rather than toast. Fortunately, this is another area where your microwave can be used. Place your spices, nuts or seeds in a microwave-safe bowl and cook on full power for approximately 15 seconds or until you start to smell that delicious toasted aroma.

Quick Soak Beans

If you’re getting ready to make a recipe and realize you’ve forgotten to soak some beans overnight, don’t despair; you can use your microwave. Place the beans in a bowl, add a pinch of baking soda and enough water to cover them. Microwave for 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times. Allow the bowl to sit for 30 minutes, and they’ll be ready for your recipe.

Easy Peeling

Peeling tomatoes or garlic can be a real chore, but it is a necessary step to make many types of sauces. You can make this task easy using your microwave. Place a clove of garlic in the appliance for approximately 20 seconds, and you’ll find the skin simply slides off. Utilizing moisture can also be helpful for tomatoes. You’ll need to use a paring knife to mark an X in the top and allow the tomatoes to sit for a minute or two after microwaving, so you can handle them safely and slide the skin off.

Poach Eggs

Pour boiling water into a microwave-safe bowl and add a dash of vinegar. You should the crack your eggs directly into the bowl, but you’ll need to lightly puncture each yolk to avoid a messy egg explosion. Cover the bowl and cook on high for 30 seconds. Turn your eggs over and cook for a further 30 seconds.

Sanitize Sponges

Most of us are aware that our kitchen sponges can harbor a great deal of bacteria. An effective way to kill any bacteria on your kitchen sponges is to soak the sponge in clean water, wring out any excess and microwave for 2 minutes. Just be sure to handle any freshly sanitized sponges with care as they will be hot.

No kitchen is complete without a microwave, and if you would like to explore the options with a brand new appliance, you should check out this online collection of small appliances or contact a home appliance expert for a specialized service.