Can You Microwave Parchment Paper? (Microwave Safety Tips)
Parchment paper is used by bakers worldwide as a disposable liner that creates a non-stick barrier between the baked food and the baking pan. That’s because it’s made from cellulose pulp, giving it distinct properties such as oil and heat resistance.
Whether bleached or unbleached, parchment paper is microwave safe due to its silicone lining, but that’s dependent on some safety guidelines that we will discuss later. This article explores the dos and don’ts of placing parchment paper in the microwave, when to use it, and the available alternatives.
Is Parchment Paper Safe for the Microwave?
There are things you should avoid putting in the microwave, including anything metallic like aluminum foil, cheap single-use plastics, clothing, and Styrofoam containers. But paper products, especially those designed for kitchen use, are microwave-safe at specific temperatures.
Parchment paper is heat-tolerant from 200°F, the peak temperature at which you’ll microwave most foodstuffs, up to 420°F. Since reheating food rarely exceeds these maximum temperatures, you can safely use it under these conditions.
Bleached parchment paper is white due to chlorine and dioxin additives, while the unbleached variety is brown. Dioxin has traces of toxicity, and there are mixed feelings about using bleached parchment paper in the microwave but leaching into food hasn’t been proven to cause health risks.
Thus, unbleached parchment paper is recommended for reheating food in the microwave to mitigate these unproven risks. Unless stated otherwise in the packaging, it’s safe to use the unprocessed type, which, although costlier than bleached parchment, contains no added chemicals.
Subject parchment paper to microwaving bursts of less than 2–3 minutes and keep an eye on what you’re reheating. If you need help determining whether a stack of parchment paper is microwave safe, look at the manufacturer’s website, USDA food safety information affiliated government websites, or contact the retailer.
Guidelines for the Use of Microwave-Safe Parchment Paper
Parchment paper can withstand high temperatures without bursting into flames, and that’s why it’s widely used for baking, cooking, and microwaving food. But you need to follow specific safety guidelines and which choice of paper to use depending on the type of food in question.
For one, parchment paper gets very hot to the touch, so always take care when removing it from the microwave afterward. That’s especially true when you heat greasy or oily foods like meats, burgers, fries, and sugary sauces, which can get extremely hot when cooked at low temperatures.
Also, parchment paper isn’t moisture-resistant like wax paper, so you shouldn’t wrap sauces, gravies, or wet and greasy foods. Finally, avoid letting microwave temperatures exceed 420°F. Parchment paper will catch fire, although that’s not a significant concern when microwaving food.
That’s because it’s hard to reach such temperatures which are twice the boiling point of water in the microwave unless you’re reheating fatty or greasy foods. Using parchment paper is also vital for microwaving and avoiding foil or metallic elements with your food.
What Are the Benefits of Using Parchment Paper in the Microwave?
Parchment paper is commonly used as a baking liner for pans and trays due to its non-stick and heat-resistant attributes. It makes removing baked foods from these utensils easy and the cleanup straightforward. Plus, it wraps rice, vegetables, chicken, and fish for cooking.
With parchment paper, you can steam food without specialized steaming implements like cookware or baskets with minimal effort. The material is versatile for reheating foods and snacks in the microwave and is safe and reusable.
You’ll find parchment paper in several sizes that suit your microwaving needs, whether you’re reheating food for one or for a large family. But use only enough to cover or hold your foodstuff, as too much will cause it to become soggy.
When Not to Use Parchment Paper in the Microwave
Parchment paper isn’t 100% effective if it’s reused or torn. That’s exacerbated when you’re microwaving fatty or sugary foods, as these heat up faster and will cause the temperature within the paper to rise significantly.
Check whether the parchment paper you plan to use in the microwave is the safe variety through signage on its retail package. Also, it’s safer to use unbleached parchment paper than the bleached type since it has been processed using chlorine and other toxic substances like dioxin.
Parchment paper types may also contain polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAs, chemicals with varying toxicity levels that cause serious health impacts. But most varieties of these wrappers don’t contain PFAs; if they do, the amounts are so minuscule not to be of significant concern.
Other non-silicone coated parchment papers contain Quilon, a coating that’s arguably toxic when heated, so select the varieties that have silicone instead.
Why Would Parchment Paper Burn in the Microwave? What Are Safer Alternatives?
The equilibrium moisture content of parchment paper is around 8% before heating in the microwave, after which it falls to 1% or 2%. At these levels, parchment paper becomes flammable, especially if in contact with a microwave’s hot turntable, so it’s preferable to wrap food with slightly damp paper.
Use parchment paper to cover moist food when microwaving, as that will keep its moisture content from dropping to dryness levels. As such, don’t microwave a piece of parchment paper on its own in a microwave, as it’ll combust when it becomes dry enough.
One aspect of parchment paper that prevents extreme dryness is the silicone coating which acts as a barrier to reduce moisture content depletion. In addition, parchment paper is readily microwave-safe, with its non-stick and heat-resistant properties.
Reheating cooked food in the microwave is the most basic use for parchment paper since it’s heat resistant and won’t stick to utensils. It also doesn’t absorb oil due to the silicone coating, and you can wrap frozen foods when defrosting to maximize the moisture produced.
Use parchment paper safely in the microwave, ensuring that the manufacturer recommends it and the temperatures don’t exceed 420°F. Do not use torn, used, or warped parchment paper, as the silicone lining may not protect it from combustion.
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