How Not to Have an Exploding Potato in a Microwave or Oven
Preventing explosions when baking and cooking potatoes in the microwave or oven. And some quick and easy potato recipes, plus other recipe resources.
Why Do Potatoes Explode
Whether by oven or microwave, the potato is heated above the boiling point of water. The volume ratio of water to steam is approximately 1:1700. So, when the potato is heated; an unpleasant surprise can sometimes happen. If you are lucky, the explosion occurs in the oven or microwave during cooking; thus only making a ruined potato and a major mess. If you are unlucky; the thing explodes as you are removing it.
How to Pierce or Vent Your Potato
Potato Microwave or Oven Preparation
You have to vent the potato by poking/slicing holes in it. That way, the steam escapes and there is no pressure build up.
The old, oven method leaves a lot to be desired. You hold the potato steady with one hand, while repeatedly stabbing it with the other hand using a knife, fork, or ice pick. The statistics are not known as to how many people cut or stab themselves every year using this procedure. The potato then makes the round trip to the oven, after which you put on an oven mitt and cut the steaming thing lengthwise.
There's a better way...
How to Vent a Potato Before Putting in Microwave or Oven
- Wash the potato with just water. Then dry off with paper towels or whatever.
- Slice the potato in half, lengthwise.
- Place both halves flat side down on a microwave usable dish. If using paper plates, use more than one; otherwise the plate(s) might break through from the moisture when removing from the microwave.
- Slicing the potato in half obviously reduces the explosion risk, but putting a couple more holes in each half won't hurt.
- What with the potato halves laying flat side down, your potato situation is now much more stable. However, you probably still want to steady the potato and keep it from sliding when you poke the holes in it.
- When poking the holes, have the sharp side of the knife facing away from your other hand. An ice-pick would probably be safer.
- Instead of stabbing, just gently poke/push the knife or ice pick through the potato.
- Then, while still holding the potato, pull/wiggle the knife or ice pick out at an angle away from the other hand.
- Two equally spaced holes in each half should do it.
- Your spud is microwave ready.
How to Microwave a Potato
Potato Microwaving Time
With the potato halves still flat side down on your plate, put in microwave.
Microwave for 5 minutes.
Rotate a quarter turn.
Microwave for 3 minutes.
The above microwaving times are for two halves of a baker potato in a 900-watt oven. Microwaving times can vary depending on the wattage and age of the oven. If you are putting four halves in there, lengthen the microwaving time accordingly. Fortunately, it is kind of hard to over-microwave a potato; though it can be done of course. If you are using a 700 or 1100 watt oven, adjust microwaving time accordingly. If it's not perfect on your first attempt, you'll have a pretty good idea of how to make it so on your second. And if you discover when slicing the potatoes they are not completely cooked, back in the microwave they go for another minute or so.
As a side note, the FDA link concerning microwave ovens is definitely worth at least a casual read. For that matter, the FDA website in general can be quite useful.
Microwaving Canned Potatoes
Microwaving those little potatoes that come in a can? Those little critters always explode, even when you cut them up beforehand. Always put a cover over them before microwaving the specified 2 to 2-1/2 minutes. Otherwise, you're going to have a major cleanup project.
Things to add to your potato.
Other toppings people have been known to use include: chili, other onions, gravy, avocados, their favorite meats, their favorite vegetables, their favorite spices, their favorite herbs, their favorite seasonings, their favorite sauces, their favorite dressings, pretty much their favorite anything.
When your masterpiece is complete, there is certainly nothing wrong with putting it back in the microwave for another 20 to 40 seconds as needed.
May all your potato masterpieces be awesome.
Keeping in mind the potatoes are hot and depending on how long you want to wait, flip the potatoes flat side up.
Make both horizontal and vertical slices in the potatoes, so the condiments and/or toppings will run into the crevices.
Making it all worthwhile...
- Regular Salt
- Garlic Salt
- Sour Cream
- Bacon Bits
- Sliced/Diced Olives
- Sliced/Diced Green Onions
More Main Dish and Side Dish Potato Recipes
And while we are at it, here are a whole bunch of Potato Main Dish and Side Dish Recipes. Once you are there, you'll probably want to bookmark it for future reference.
Yep, it can happen.
Too bad he didn't catch it live. At least it didn't explode when he was taking it out. Excepting for a relatively minor mess, all was well.