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Butter explosion !


Aloha Steve
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I was melting butter in a glass pyrex measuring cup on high in the microwave. The first 30 seconds no problem. Then put back in very shortly and after 20 seconds or so BOOM. The butter was mostly frozen and it was a 4 oz chunk. OK, my sous chef (better half) after much complaint cleaned it so I could melt some more. I lost half, so I got a stick, cut in half, let it melt in what remained of the first batch for about 20 minutes. Put in micro and POP went the weasel again. This butter was partially frozen. The first butter was European style in the green foil and the 2nd was Organic Valley I think its called.

I cannot remember butter, whether frozen or not exploding when being nuked before.

Can anyone explain, SVP ?

edited for grammar & spelling. I do it 95% of my posts so I'll state it here. :)

"I have never developed indigestion from eating my words."-- Winston Churchill

Talk doesn't cook rice. ~ Chinese Proverb

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Two things come to mind. One is superheating where water can actually exceed the boiling point without actually boiling, and then it spontaneously - and almost explosively - boils. An explanation of superheating and microwaves is here: http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/~jw/superheating.html

Another possibility is that, because microwaves heat from the inside out, you could wind up with molten butter and steam inside a frozen shell. This would almost have to explode.

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Another possibility is that, because microwaves heat from the inside out, you could wind up with molten butter and steam inside a frozen shell. This would almost have to explode.

Except that microwaves don't heat from the inside out. The microwaves interact with water--so with some foods, the outside might be drier, leading to the impression of cooking from the interior. Microwaves also interact with ice less efficiently than with liquid water, which could produce differential heating in something like butter if it was only partially frozen.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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I am a veteran of many butter explosions. I suspect the answer is simple ... for various reasons microwaves heat things unevenly (some related to the oven, others related to the food). all it takes is for some of the water in the butter to start simmering while it's still surrounded by solid butter.

Luckily, of all things I've blown up in the microwave, butter is one of the easiest to clean up.

Warming the butter first helps. So does nuking on a lower setting. My favorite solution is melting it in a saucepan.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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I had this problem, but resolved it this way: Place the butter in a pyrex bowl or measuring cup, cover it with paper towels, wrapping the ends under the bowl to keep it from flying off in the microwave. Then place it in the microwave, being sure the ends are tucked in, and zap it. I have never had a problem with butter exploding all over the microwave when I do this.

And if you are melting frozen butter, like abooja advised, zap it at half power for 20 or 30 seconds first, then move up to full power.

Good luck!

Eileen

Edited by etalanian (log)

Eileen Talanian

HowThe Cookie Crumbles.com

HomemadeGourmetMarshmallows.com

As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists. ~Joan Gussow

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Thanks ALL it was just my time for a good old POP ! :blink:

Will follow your advice to nuke at lower temps and listen to my BH and cover.

edited for grammar & spelling. I do it 95% of my posts so I'll state it here. :)

"I have never developed indigestion from eating my words."-- Winston Churchill

Talk doesn't cook rice. ~ Chinese Proverb

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"

"This has happened to me numerous times, and with butter right out of the fridge. My solution is to microwave it more gently -- at level 5 or 6 instead of 10 -- and to stir it a bit (well, slosh it around in its container) halfway through. No more explosions. "

You didn't learn from the first time?

Edited by ray goud (log)
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You didn't learn from the first time?

Ha. I neglected to mention that I always covered the bowl with plastic wrap after the first explosion blew the draped wax paper clear off the top of the bowl. Still had explosions, because I had not yet learned the nuances of my microwave. Microwaving cold butter in it at level 10 will lead to an explosion within 15-20 seconds.

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Just for fun, put an uncracked egg in the thing!

Great idea, just a favor please ? Run it by my sous chef, cleaner and chief cheerleader (wife) first :wub: , she agrees we are good to go ! :blink::raz:

edited for grammar & spelling. I do it 95% of my posts so I'll state it here. :)

"I have never developed indigestion from eating my words."-- Winston Churchill

Talk doesn't cook rice. ~ Chinese Proverb

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I cut my butter in smaller pieces if I have to melt it in the micro, that usually works very fast and never exploded on me. I'd be hesitant with frozen butter, if at all I'd use the defrost setting I think.

And yes, microwaves don't heat from the inside out, the waves don't even penetrate very far into food. If you think about it, how could the waves enter the food and NOT heat the outside while heating the inside only? They get weaker the further they penetrate until they're gone. It's not an x-ray.

Be very careful with the super heating mentioned above, I've heated water that suddenly boiled over once I put a teabag in. You do not want boiling water flying everywhere.... Always let a cup of liquid rest for a couple seconds if you had it in there long enough to boil.

Oh, and never put an egg in, open, closed, in a bowl, poured on a plate, doesn't matter, it will explode and make a terrible mess. You can buy a kind of clamshell thing to make "poached" eggs in the micro and you'll hear the explosion (especially if you forgot to pierce the yolk). I threw mine out as the eggs were rather rubbery that way anyway.

Edited by OliverB (log)

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Just for fun, put an uncracked egg in the thing!

Great idea, just a favor please ? Run it by my sous chef, cleaner and chief cheerleader (wife) first :wub: , she agrees we are good to go ! :blink::raz:

I'm sure you two are joking, but just in case, DON'T DO IT! The egg will explode, if not in the microwave then after the egg is removed from the microwave, where it can do a lot of damage (ever caught a piece of very hot flying eggshell in the eye?). :shock:

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