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Do Microwaves Cause Cancer?

I don’t know about you, but I use my microwave oven every day from cooking oatmeal to heating up leftover. To be on the safe side, I always stand far away and even block my child from entering the kitchen.

Am I overreactive? Should I worry about microwaves leaking from the oven and cause cancer? The answer is No – microwaves do not cause cancer. Because the forms of radiation that are typically linked to cancer are those with high enough energies or frequencies to ionize atoms or molecules, and thus are able to cause damage in our cells. Microwaves are a much lower energy form of radiation. 

Microwave ovens are an accidental discovery that changes people’s lives for the better. You’ll feel completely comfortable with using them after understanding the different types of radiation, how microwave ovens work,  how safe they are (with some tips) and whether microwaves change the composition of the food.

Understanding Ionizing And Non-ionizing Radiation

We live with low doses of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation throughout the day, from sources of heat and light to waves from cell phones and microwaves.

Microwaves are a type of Radiofrequency (RF) radiation at the low-energy end of the electromagnetic spectrum. RF radiation is a type of non-ionizing radiation, which means it has enough energy to move atoms in a molecule around or cause them to vibrate, but not enough to ionize (remove charged particles such as electrons). RF radiation does not cause cancer by damaging DNA in cells the way ionizing radiation does.

In contrast to low-energy radiation such as microwaves, high-energy radiation have enough energy to remove an electron from (ionize) an atom or molecule. High-energy radiation includes x-rays, gamma rays as well as higher energy UV radiation. They are called ionizing radiation. High doses of ionizing radiation may damage organs and cause blood diseases, neurologic disorders or cancer.

How Does Microwave Oven Work?

The simple answer is: microwaves heat food like the sun heats your face—by radiation.

A microwave is an invisible up-and-down pattern of electricity and magnetism that races through the air at the speed of light (300,000 km or 186,000 miles per second). Microwave ovens are so quick and efficient because they channel heat energy directly to the molecules (tiny particles) inside the food. A microwave oven is designed like a metal box. When it’s in operation, a microwave generator called magnetron can convert electricity to high-powered radio waves. The microwaves bounce back and forth off the reflective metal walls and penetrate inside the food. As they travel through it, they make the water molecules inside it vibrate more quickly.

Depending on the size, shape, and composition of food, microwave ovens cook food a little bit differently. Microwaves can’t penetrate more than a centimeter or two (perhaps an inch or so) into food. As they go deeper into the food, they don’t have enough energy left to penetrate food anymore. You may end up getting something that’s cooked on the outside and uncooked inside, or overdone on the outside and cooked just right in the middle. In situations like this, you may want to try using conventional ways to heat the food again just to make sure it’s safe to eat.

Because microwaves excite the liquids in foods more strongly, something like an apple pie with a higher liquid content in the center will cook from the inside out. That’s why people often say be careful eating microwaved food because there are some hot spots. It’s very deceiving when the outside crust of the apple pie is barely even warm. This is a tricky situation, but now you know the reason behind it. With other foods, where the water content is more evenly dispersed, you probably won’t have this issue as they are cooked just like in a conventional oven, from outside in.  Since they work by energizing water molecules, microwaves also tend to dry food out more than conventional ovens.

Are Microwave Ovens Safe For Health?

Microwave ovens are essential to everyday cooking, but have you ever worried about standing too close to your microwaves as it heats up your dinner? Is it safe?

Yes, it is perfectly safe. The World Health Organization is reassuring on this point: “thermal damage would only occur from long exposures to very high power levels, well in excess of those measured around microwave ovens.” Put another word, the power is too little to heat your body tissue up enough to do any damage.

So how does the microwave oven work safely? It’s designed this way. All microwave ovens are like sealed metal containers. Microwaves bounce back and forth off the reflective metal walls. Unless the door is shut, no microwaves are able to emit. If you look closely at the inside of the glass door, you’ll find there is a grid of metal stuck to the back; those holes you can see in it are too small to let microwaves through, but large enough that visible light can still pass through. Another safety feature is called an interlock. If you try to open the door, the magnetron stops buzzing immediately. Most microwaves actually have two independent interlocks in case one fails.

Of course, it still pays to take precautions. If you notice any signs of damage on the door or the grid on the back of the glass or if the interlocks don’t work, you should get it repaired or replaced straight away.

Even if your microwave is “leaking,” it’s unlikely to do you any harm.  According to the American Cancer Society, the amount of radiation that is allowed to leak out of microwaves based on federal laws in the US is far below the level that could potentially cause harm. However, this only applies to well-functioning microwaves.

Another good thing to put your concern at ease is that the high power inside drops off very quickly the further away you go. In some distance away from the ovens, only tiny amounts of electromagnetic radiation—less than you’d pick up from a cellphone, will be produced. To put any real risk to your health, you’d need to be exposed to much higher levels of radiation for much longer. It’s a safe bet that nobody ever spends hours near a microwave.

Does Microwaving Food Alter Its Composition?

Yes and No.

Any form of cooking will change the chemical makeup of food because of the heat, no matter where it is cooked — stovetop, pressure cooker, conventional oven, or microwave oven. The heat initiates a number of chemical reactions, most of which are desirable. Proteins become more digestible and various flavored compounds are produced. Certain vitamins will be destroyed, and proteins and carbohydrates may be hydrolyzed.

However, Microwaves have no nonthermal effect on food. Microwaves are non-ionizing waves and do not leave a residue. They can cause molecules to vibrate, like the water molecules in our leftovers, but they do not change the chemical structure of the food by ionizing it. There is no evidence that eating microwaved foods is detrimental to our health; rather, it may be quite beneficial when compared to other heat sources.

When it comes to cooking food, a general rule of thumb is that longer heating periods can lead to greater physical and chemical changes. Microwave ovens are the most efficient ways of cooking among all these sources. Therefore, the nutritional quality of microwaved foods is actually superior. Unlike cooking on stovetops where the water used to cover the vegetables can leach away some vitamins, no additional water is needed in a microwave. Heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs), which have been linked to cancer, are far more likely to form in fried, grilled or broiled meats than in those that have been microwaved.

Safety Concerns on Using Microwave Ovens

One of the first such reports appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine back in 1991. A young man heated seven eggs in their shells in a microwave oven at full power for five minutes. It was all good until he sat down and all eggs spontaneously exploded causing severe injuries on the face. The pressure buildup inside the eggs is so quick that eventually bursts through the shell. The best practice is to puncture the shells before cooking to release the steam. To avoid this risk altogether, you may just want to remove the shell completely.

For the same reason, it’s also recommended to pierce the yoke in an unbeaten egg. Several people have been injured when they pierced the yolk of a microwaved egg with a fork. The cooked membrane around the yolk can sustain a great deal of pressure, at least until it is pierced.  Then it retaliates by releasing a jet of steam.

Microwaves can only penetrate around 1cm to most food. If you don’t stir food constantly, it’s very likely to leave a cold spot. Even you see some bubbling and steaming, don’t be fooled by that. Remember, microwaves don’t kill bacteria; only the heat does.  So it’s important to heat food to a safe internal temperature. But microwaved foods can cook unevenly because of the size, shape, and composition of food (like what we’ve discussed above), how do you keep the food free from bacteria? Stir it often, allow adequate standing times and check the temperature of microwaved foods with a food thermometer in several spots.

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Is it healthier to grill with gas or charcoal?

Grilling is easy and fun! Nothing marks the start of summer like the smoky smell from a backyard. Last weekend we went to a friend’s house for BBQ. They have a hybrid grill with gas burners on one side and room for charcoal on the other side. We were debating over whether we should use gas or charcoal and which one is a healthier option.

So is it healthier to grill with gas or charcoal? The way to go is to grill with gas whenever possible, because charcoal grilling may pose cancer risks and add to air pollution.

Sounds scary, right? But you may argue that charcoal gives you the perfect smoky flavor in food. And you don’t want to abandon your beloved charcoal grill yet. So what to do? Read on this post to uncover the myth of smoky flavor and some amazing tips for healthier grilling.

Why Charcoal Grilling Is Related To Cancer?

Studies have found that eating grilled meat or chicken may increase your risk of developing cancer. During the grilling process, cancer-causing substances called carcinogens may be formed. When charring, burning or grilling meat, poultry, and fish, there are two kinds of potentially carcinogenic compounds that form in the cooked food: heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). In laboratory experiments, HCAs and PAHs have been found to be mutagenic. In other words, they cause changes in DNA that may increase the risk of cancer.

The amino acids, sugars, and creatine in meats react at high temperatures forming heterocyclic amines(HCAs). HCAs are not found in significant amounts in foods other than meat cooked at high temperatures. The hotter the temperature and the longer the meat cooks, the more HCAs are formed. HCAs can also form on broiled and pan-fried beef, pork, fowl, and fish. In fact, National Cancer Institute researchers have identified 17 different HCAs that result from cooking “muscle meats,” HCAs that may pose human cancer risks. Studies have also shown an increased risk of colorectal, pancreatic, and breast cancers associated with high intakes of well done, fried, or barbequed meats.

According to the American Cancer Society, PAHs form when fat and juices from meat grilled directly over a heated surface or open fire drip onto the charcoal. Charcoal burns hotter than gas and it creates a lot of smoke. Even though many people like the smoke flavor a charcoal grill provides, smoke is not a good thing when accompanied by PAHs, which can get deposited on the food you are cooking. PAHs can also form directly on the food as it is charred. PAHs can be found in other smoked foods, as well as in cigarette smoke and car exhaust fumes.

Benefits of Gas Grilling

To achieve a healthy style of grilling, using gas over charcoal is a really smart decision. Besides the benefits of avoiding the cancer-causing carcinogens, gas grilling is more convenient, ready at any time, and easier to clean up.

To throw a quick BBQ party, you don’t have to wait for the charcoal ignites and heat up. When finish grilling, gas grills cool down much faster than their charcoal counterparts; and of course, cleanup is a breeze – no charcoal or ash to contend with. This also means that a gas grill will be ready to cover and put to bed after a cook much sooner—no more waiting in the dark for the grill to cool down!

Charcoal grilling often requires some skills to effectively manage the airflow and cooking temperature. While it may get easier once you get the hang of it, it does require more attention and effort than simply turning a knob. You have to build and bank and tend a fire. You have to pay close attention to where it is hot and where it is not. You have to concentrate and be ready to spend more time standing by the grill.

Gas grills are fueled by liquid propane stored in refillable tanks. Even though charcoal grills are less expensive than gas grills, the cost of charcoal will add up over the years. So in the long run, you’ll spend less using a gas grill than trying to run a charcoal one.

Safety is another benefit to gas. While charcoal is a safe cooking fuel, some homeowners’ associations or apartment complexes don’t allow charcoal grilling because of potential hazards from loose embers or ash. Working with charcoal requires attention and care at all times!

Finally, if you’ve never used charcoal it may be intimidating or a bit outside of your comfort zone. There’s no shame in that; plenty of people have never lit a pile of charcoal in their life. Don’t let the diehards shame you into something you’re not comfortable using.

Does Charcoal Grill Make Food More Tasteful?

Charcoal purists will tell you their preferred fuel leads to better flavor. So what really makes the smoky flavor on the meat? Is that the charcoal or something else?

Without any doubt, charcoal has one simple advantage over gas: It gets much hotter. Glowing coals are at a temperature of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit; while gas burns at around 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit, there’s very little radiant heat from the flames, which is what’s really cooking your food on a grill.

At higher cooking temperature, when drippings from the meat hit the charcoal below, the oils, sugars, and proteins burst into smoke and flame. That heat creates new complex molecules that rise in the smoke and warm air to coat the food you’re grilling. So it’s pretty safe to say that the characteristic flavor of grilled food comes from the drippings, not the fuel. But remember, the smoky flavor comes with a price — cancer-causing chemicals such as HCAs and PAHs.

Healthy Grilling Tips For Charcoal Grilling

1. Use Herbs To Marinate Meats
Marinating doesn’t just improve the taste of the meats, it may actually ease your concern of HCAs. Marinades that contain thyme, sage, and garlic are a great way to cut down on carcinogen formation. It can actually reduce the amount of total HCAs by as much as 88 percent, One recent study showed that rosemary can even reduce HCAs up to 90 percent in some cases. Marinating with wine or beer is another great option, which can decrease the amount of carcinogens by 40 percent.

2. Control The Temperature
HCAs begin to form at 325 degrees F. You want to make sure all meat is properly cooked while the temperature does not exceed 325 degrees F. Use a meat thermometer to make sure the ideal temperature is met for different types of food.

Beef and Lamb

Rare: 130ºF
Medium-Rare: 130º to 140ºF
Medium: 140º to 155ºF
Medium-Well: 155º to 165ºF
Well: 170ºF and up

Pork

Medium: 140º to 155ºF
Medium-well: 155º to 165ºF
Well-Done: 175º to 185ºF

Grilled Chicken and Turkey

Dark meat (thigh, leg): 170º to 175ºF
White meat (breast, wing): 160º to 165ºF

Fish

Medium-rare: 120ºF
Medium: 135ºF

Burgers

160ºF

3. Grill Your Veggies
Eating more veggies is a golden rule for a healthy diet, especially for a meat-heavy barbecue dinner. Vegetables are naturally high in fiber and low in calories. Unlike grilled meat, vegetables don’t contain the amino acids which can form HCAs. It doesn’t take much creativity to cook vegetables. Whenever you’re grilling, just add a few peppers, zucchini, sweet corns or asparagus to the grill. How about some veggie kabobs? A green salad with light vinaigrette dressing is another nutrient-packed addition that is a favorite amongst many people.

4. Pick the perfect protein

As we all know, white meat is healthier than red meat, which usually has more saturated fat. Especially in grilling, fat and juices in meat will drip onto the charcoal, and cancer-causing chemicals like PAHs can coat the food with the smoke. However, if you choose leaner meat, such as skinless chicken breast and lean ground poultry, you will significantly reduce the amount of PAHs. The good fats in fish like salmon and trout actually have health benefits. When you use good tools and master the skill, your guests won’t even miss the red meat. Think of something creative, for example, wrap marinated fish fillets in foil, construct colorful chicken/vegetable kebabs, or make more savory turkey burgers by mixing minced portabella mushrooms and onions into the patties. If you do choose meat or pork, get “loin” or “round” cuts and “choice” or “select” grades of beef instead of “prime.”

5. Size Matters
Size matters in both ways. When it comes to cooking, you want to cube or slice meat into smaller portions to speed up the cooking time or choose a quick-cooking option like shrimp or fish. Because remember, the faster foods are cooked, the less likely they’ll develop dangerous charring. Another benefit of keeping meat size small is to keep your own diet on track. A healthy portion of any type of meat is about 3 ounces, and definitely no more than 6 ounces. If you think it won’t be enough to satisfy your stomach, just grill more veggies and fruits. Yes, fruits can be great on grills. The natural sugars caramelize in the high heat, giving them extra sweetness and flavor. Try sliced apple, pear or pineapple or halved bananas, figs, nectarines, peaches or plums. You’ll have a more colorful plate that you’ll enjoy guilt-free!

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Is It Safe to Use A Burnt Stainless Steel Pot?

Yesterday my toddler was running around in the kitchen when I was boiling eggs in a stainless steel pot.  I got distracted for a while and the next thing I noticed was a burnt pot! I didn’t know what to do — should I throw it away? If not, is it still safe to use? So, I did some research to find out the answer.

So is it safe to use a burned stainless steel pot? Yes, as long as you clean them thoroughly, stainless steel pots and pans are safe to use even after you burn them dry (and they look terrible!). It is safe to use provided that you’re well-informed on how to choose a high-quality product in the first place and how to safely use and clean it.

Many people think stainless steel cookware is the safest form of kitchen cookware. However, without proper use and maintenance, you are allowing unwelcome toxic into your family’s diet. This article will help you learn natural ways to clean and maintain your stainless steel cookware for the years to come.

Is Stainless Steel Toxic When Heated?

Stainless steel cookware is usually made from a combination of more metals in multiple layers, but only stainless steel comes in contact with the food. This unique construction makes it more stable, and less likely to leach any toxic metals (like chromium or nickel) or other substances. Besides, stainless steels have good strength and good resistance to corrosion and oxidation at elevated temperatures. For example, 304 stainless steel can be used at temperatures up to 1700° F. It is even safe for the oven. Stainless steel is designed to withstand high temperature and constructed in a way that is least likely to leach toxic metals into food.

However, that doesn’t mean it is always safe. Keep away from using deeply scratched and pitted pans, which can cause metals such as nickel and chromium to migrate into food in trace amounts. Toxicological studies show that oral doses of nickel and chromium can cause cutaneous adverse reactions such as dermatitis.

Another important thing to remember is that not every stainless steel cookware is created equally. High-quality stainless steel cookware use more expensive materials to form a safe and strong cooking surface, which will resist heat, not react with food, flake or leach harmful chemicals into food. It has better resistance to discoloration and corrosion. Some high-end products have 5-ply bonded construction that has alternating layers of stainless steel and conductive aluminum for warp-free strength and even heating.

So how do you choose a high-quality stainless steel pot? First, you want to make sure that the cookware is made with 18/8 or 18/10 as these are the standard used in good quality cookware. Another rule of thumb is the heavier, the better. A heavier pot means more material was used to make it. It will be more sturdy and less likely to have hot spots and dents.

How To Clean A Burnt Stainless Steel Pot (If You Boil It Dry)?

The simplest solution is to clean the pot with baking soda and vinegar. First, pour equal amounts of white vinegar and water on the bottom of the pot. Then heat the mixture on the stovetop until it comes to a boil. After it boils for a minute, remove the pot from the burner and drain the mixture down the sink. If there are any remaining burn stains, not to worry! Just add a tablespoon of baking soda to the empty pan and use a scouring pad to massage the bottom of the pot. After removing all the burn marks rinse the pot thoroughly with tap water.

How To Clean Burned Food Off Stainless Steel Pan?

Even if you pay close attention to the cooking process, stubborn food particles may still be gripping the bottom of the stainless steel pots and pans. At this point, the last thing you want to do is to damage the pots and pans while cleaning the food residues. Luckily, we have some simple solutions.

Method #1: Soak in water and boil

Begin by scrubbing away as much food as possible with a non-abrasive scrubber. Then, fill the pot or pan with water and a bit of dish soap. Make sure the stuck-on food is completely submerged. Bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, you can use a spatula to scrape away excess food with ease. If this one doesn’t work, try the methods below.

Method #2: Using Vinegar and Baking Soda

Vinegar is an effective cleaning solution for stuck-on foods thanks to its acetic acid content, which helps break down tough food particles. Follow the steps below:

  1. Fill the bottom of your pot or pan with water, enough to cover the stuck-on food.
  2. Add 1 cup of vinegar and bring water to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, remove from the heat and add in 2 Tbsp. of baking soda.
  4. Briefly mix together and empty the pan.
  5. Use a non-abrasive sponge or scrubber to remove any remaining food particles.

Method #3: Using Cream of Tartar

Cream of tartar may not be as handy as vinegar, but if you have it, simply mix it with water to create a paste and cover affected areas in your pan. Allow the mixture to soak overnight in the pan. Rinse and scrub the pan out to remove any remaining particles.

Method #4: Using Salt and Lime

These two surprising ingredients create an effective cleaning solution for your stainless steel pan. That’s because the lime’s acidity works to combat tough particles while the coarseness of the salt helps scrub away loose food. Here’s how to remove stuck-on food with salt and lime:

  1. Squeeze lime juice into your pan and add salt.
  2. Allow the mixture to rest in the pan for several minutes.
  3. Sprinkle more salt into the pan.
  4. Immediately begin scrubbing with a non-abrasive scrubber.
  5. Once excess food is removed, rinse and dry as normal.

How To Clean Discolored Stainless Steel Pans?

Now you’ve tried the methods above to remove burn marks and stuck-on food from the stainless steel pans, you may still experience rainbow-colored discolorations or white calcium build-up. Here are a few simple methods for restoring your stainless steel back to its classic silver state.

Method #1: Using Vinegar

Vinegar is an effective ingredient for ridding your pan of any unsightly discoloration typically caused by overheating. Simply wash your pan with vinegar and rinse with water to remove discoloration.

Additionally, vinegar can be used to rid your pan of white calcium build-up stains. Make a mixture of one part vinegar to three parts water and boil in the affected pot or pan. Allow the mixture to cool, empty the pan, and wash as normal.

Method #2: Using Tomato Sauce

If you have excess tomato sauce leftover, this may be the perfect method to try. The acidity from the tomatoes reacts with the discoloration in your stainless steel pans similarly to vinegar.

For this method, fill the pot or pan with tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes until the affected areas are completely submerged. Allow the sauce to simmer gently for about 10 minutes, adding water if necessary. Remove the sauce and rinse as normal. Additionally, you can leave the tomato sauce in the pan overnight without simmering.

10 Tips on Maintenance and Care

Now you’ve cleaned your burned stainless steel pot like a pro, you don’t want to stop here. Proper care and maintenance are essential to keep your stainless steel cookware clean and avoid permanent damage and corrosion. With just a little effort, your stainless steel pots and pans will stay looking shiny and new. Here are some basic tips:

1. Clean with non-abrasive materials and sponges gently with warm water and liquid soap. Steel wool and other harsh scrubbers or cleaners can scratch stainless steel surfaces.
2. Use cooking utensils made from materials which will not scratch the stainless steel surface.
3. Don’t scrub against the grain. You may find some stainless steel has some tiny lines in the metal; that is the grain of the finish. Try to scrub, wipe, or polish stainless steel parallel to the grain rather than “against” or across the grain. This way you will have a better result in cleaning the surface and help maintain the original finish and texture of the steel.
4. Heat up the pan before adding oil. Letting the pan heat up before adding oil or other fat results in a more non-stick surface. However, do not overheat the oil, because the burned-on stain can be very hard to remove from stainless steel. If you have a burned oil stain, the best way to clean it is to soak it overnight in hot, soapy water, then scrub with a plastic scrubber.
5. Let the water boil before adding salt. Salting the water in a stainless steel pot before heating the water can lead to pitting and small dents in the bottom of your pan.  The tiny bits of rust on the surface certainly doesn’t look pleasant. It can be avoided without much effort. Just remember to add a little bit at a time because adding salt to boiling water can make it boil over.
6. Prevent water spots by always drying pans immediately after washing. To remove water spots, dampen your pan and rub down with a moist sponge and baking soda.
9. Cold food is more likely to stick to the pan. Bring meats and refrigerated foods to room temperature before adding to the pan.
10. Do not use cold water to clean a hot pan, this can cause warping and disfiguration.

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The Ultimate Guide on How to Reduce Splattering Oil

The other day after I was done making my stir fry dish, I couldn’t believe how messy my stovetop was. I love the convenience of stir fry meals, but the oil splatter is really a deal breaker. I don’t want to give up on my favorite meals, so I went ahead and did some research on how to effectively reduce splattering oil. I hope this article can help you as well.

Splattering oil cannot be eliminated completely unless there is no oil involved. But you can definitely minimize it by proper handling the food, finding the right oil and temperature, using the right cookware and tools such as a splatter screen, last but not least, trying other cooking techniques.

What Causes Oil to Splatter?

In fact, oil by itself doesn’t cause splatter. When heating oil to a high temperature, you may be more likely to see smoke, rather than splatter. However, when you start pouring food into the pan, the splatter may begin. The food, like pre-washed vegetables or meat, introduces water droplets to the oil.

Oil and water are not good friends by nature. Even if you mix them together, they still separate, because water molecules are more attracted to each other than to oil molecules. The water molecules rapidly evaporate into steam, expands, then displace the oil and cause it to go elsewhere. That’s why oil splattering happens.

Maybe the water-and-oil relationship is not that romantic, but we can still try some helpful tips to reduce splattering oil and minimize cleaning time.

TIP 1: Proper Handling

The most effective way is to pat dry food as much as possible before placing into the pan. And of course, dry the skillet thoroughly before adding oil. When cooking meat, try to reduce its thickness. Do not place very cold or partially frozen ingredients in hot oil. Slip the food into the pan from only a few inches above, instead of dropping it. Use tongs, chopsticks, or any other tool to drop the food if needed.

If you use a cast iron, moisture may still ingrain in the pan. You should sprinkle a little salt, swirls it, and then wipes it before cooking anything. Salt will absorb the extra moisture.

Remove the frying pan from the burner while you turn the food. Juices naturally collect on the surface of your food while the other side is cooking, and this temporary reduction in the heat minimizes the popping you’ll experience as you turn the food.

TIP 2: Finding the Right Oil and Temperature

Always start at a low temperature when you are frying anything and gradually warm up your frying pan and oil. Monitor your cooking temperature closely. If the oil is too hot, the food will burn on the outside before cooking on the inside. The ideal oil temperature for most frying is between 350 and 365 F. It’s easy to use a thermometer to tell the temperature. But without one, you can try to stick the end of a wooden spoon into the oil. If you see many bubbles form around the wood and they start to float up, your oil is ready for frying. If it’s bubbling hard, the oil is too hot. Remove from the stovetop and let it cool a bit.

There are so many choices of cooking oil in the market. Which one is best for you? Part of it depends on your cooking needs and lifestyle. For high-temperature cooking, select cooking oils with a high smoke point. For low-temperature cooking, choose oils with higher omega-3 fatty acids since they promote healthy cells and decrease stroke and heart attack risk.

Avocado oil is most suitable for high-temperature cooking because it has a very high smoke point compared to other cooking oils. It will not burn or smoke until it reaches 520 F, which means it’s the ideal oil for searing meats or frying in a wok. For medium frying, you can use canola oil, vegetable oil, corn, and sunflower oils.

TIP 3: Use the Right Cookware

You may want to use a roomy pan or skillet to allow oil splatters to fall back inside rather than onto the stovetop. Choose a high-quality skillet that has even heat distribution. Cheap stainless steel skillets usually have extremely poor conductivity, because it lacks an inner conductive metal. Poor conductivity can lead to hot spots which cause burnt food, smoke, and of course excess splatter. Good quality stainless steel skillets thickly bonded with a layer of a conductive metal such as aluminum will be lightweight, easy to clean, react relatively quickly to temperature changes, and will evenly distribute heat without hot spots to burn and splatter oil.

TIP 4: Choose the Right Tools

Even if you have a good quality pan or wok with high sides, some splatter still may escape. Splatter screen is definitely the way to go. It’s better than a lid because it allows the steam to escape while food is cooked normally. It can save you a lot of cleaning time and protect people around the stovetop from burns. As a bonus, they double as a strainer, steamer and even a cooling rack.

To prevent splatters on the other burners and stovetops, experiment with a small cookie sheet or piece of foil. Put them where the splatters fall. If you prefer to have a reusable version, try stove burner covers. These are easy to install and clean. You should check to see if the covers fit your stovetop type.

TIP 5: Try Other Cooking Techniques

If you love fried chicken, fried fish or french fries but hates the oil splatters and unhealthy fat, you would love this idea. Instead of using the traditional deep-frying techniques with loads of oil and end up with a messy kitchen, try oven frying at high temperatures.

Or invest in an air fryer, a very smart appliance cooking ingredients from all angles using hot-air circulation. So no oil is needed! Imaging you have crispy golden chicken tenders and french fries in hand feeling guilt free! The best part is no more oil splatters! Also, flour or bread foods, when appropriate. The breading helps absorb juices escaping from the food as it cooks, which helps reduce the risk of splatters.

Cooking bacon is another fun task for every cook. Splattering seems impossible to stop. Here is the trick. Use water. Yes, adding water is the new way to create perfectly crisp bacon and minimize any grease splatters. Place the bacon in a cold skillet and turn the heat to high. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan ( or cover the bacon slices if you wish). The goal here is to keep the temperature low. Once the water comes to a boil, turn the heat to medium. At this point, the fat from the bacon has almost completely rendered and the chance to burn is much lower. Once the water is gone, turn the heat to medium-low and wait for the bacon to crisp up. Enjoy!