The first time I came in contact with a Ziploc bag was during a family gathering I attended. The host then handed me 2 sturdy sealed plastic bags. In one was a huge chunk of red velvet cake and in the other were about a dozen pieces of chicken wings.
Imagine my joy when I discovered that Ziploc bags were also reusable and could be used to store away food in your fridge or freezer. The bonus for me is that Ziploc bags do not take up so much space in your fridge or freezer the way other storage containers do.
These bags help keep food fresh for longer, and it comes in a variety of sizes too. The sturdiness of the bag ensures that the food within is well protected and preserved.
Some people use Ziploc bags to cook or reheat food in the microwave. But when we consider the plastic composition of Ziploc bags, is it safe to use them in the microwave? Should it be used for cooking, reheating, or both? Read on to get the answer to this and other related questions.
Can you use Ziploc bags in the Microwave?
Yes, you can use ziploc bags in the microwave. However, you must bear in mind that they are not to be used for boiling, cooking or steaming food because the high temperature could affect the plastic bag.
However, Ziploc bags are suitable for warming up or reheating food.
Ziploc bags are plastic bags made with low-density polyethylene plastic (LDPE) and linear low-density poly-ethyl (LLDPE). They are also Bisphenol-A ( BPA) free, which makes them safe for microwave use.
BPA is a chemical compound that was previously used for making hard and plastic containers and bags. However, in 2012 after a series of reviews, the U.S Food and drug administration (FDA) banned it from being used in baby bottles and plastic cups. Shortly after, the agency instituted a minimum level of exposure to the chemical for adults.
But the majority of brands like Ziploc do not use the chemical compound as part of their product formation.
To further assure users of its microwave safety, the Ziploc brand has stated on its website that all its bags and containers meet the safety requirements of the FDA for temperatures linked to defrosting and reheating food in the microwave.
If you are opting for a standard plastic bag be sure to confirm safety before using it to microwave your food. Check the manufacturer’s guide for its composition and safety instructions.
Is it safe to use Ziploc bags in the microwave?
Ziploc bags are safe for microwave use. But there are debates about the overall safety of using Ziploc bags in the microwave solely because of their plastic composition.
Plastic does not do well when exposed to excessive heat. That is why Ziploc bags should not be used for boiling, cooking, or steaming because they will require a higher temperature, which would cause the plastic to melt.
From research conducted it is found that Ziploc bags are made of a plastic formerly called Polypropylene, which has a far higher melting point when overheated.
When the plastic melts, not only does the food become inedible but the chemicals from the plastic will leak into your food, causing health issues.
Though Ziploc bags have been declared and confirmed as dioxin and BPA free there are still some chemicals that could be dangerous if food is allowed to be overheated repeatedly.
When you are reheating certain foods such as bacon, cheese, and pastries in a Ziploc bag, you need to be cautious and maintain regular checks because the high-fat composition of these foods means that a higher temperature is required.
How to microwave Ziploc bags:
Top of the list is that you ensure the Ziploc bag to be used is labeled as microwave safe and stamped with FDA safety approval.
You could put the Ziploc bag with its food content straight into the microwave but placing the Ziploc bag in a microwave-safe dish will be much better. This is because, in the process of heating the food, the bag can get hot, and coming into direct contact with it could burn your fingers.
While reheating food in a Ziploc bag, you should unseal the bag so the steam can escape. Leaving the bag sealed means steam will build up in the bag resulting in a possible explosion.
Be mindful that Ziploc bags have a melting point of 90.5 degrees Centigrade or 195 degrees Fariheinet. So the food you are reheating should not exceed these numbers. If it does, the plastic will react by melting or the bag could burst under that pressure.
Food in Ziploc bags should be microwaved on low or medium heat, with 30 second interval checks.
Keep checking on the bag to ensure it is not overheating.
How long does it take to microwave food in a Ziploc bag?
Well, there is no standard time as it depends on the food in the bag.
However, whatever the food may be, an important thing to bear in mind is that the Ziploc bag should not be allowed to overheat.
If you are to heat food that has been stored in the freezer, let the frozen food thaw for some time. When you do this you are preventing an unnecessary extended time in the microwave.
According to the manufacturer’s guide, Ziploc bags should not be used for cooking, steaming, or boiling. This is because the time and temperature required for cooking, boiling or steaming is way beyond what the Ziploc bag can handle. And doing so puts your health at risk in the long run. So, do not do it.
Though Ziploc bags cannot be used to boil or steam, other bags offer this and they can be found at your local store. For example, cloth bags or microwave steam bags can be used for boiling and steaming vegetables and much more.
If you want to stay within the Ziploc brand family though, they have a product called the Ziploc Zip’n’ Steam bags, which is excellent for all your food steaming needs.
Are Ziploc bags safe to reuse?
Ziploc bags are relatively costly so the fact that you can reuse them makes it worth every dollar.
Simply hand wash the bags after use and allow for them to properly dry before using again.
If the bag has been used to store raw food, like meat or chicken, or foods that cause allergies, do not use it for other food items. This will prevent cross-contamination.
You can use your Ziploc bag for as long as you want. But once you notice some part is melted, ripped, or the seal has gotten worn out or weak, it is then time to get a new one.
Ziploc brand bags are made with high-quality recycled material. So once you are done using it, get it to the nearest recycling plant. But you need to have it washed and dried first.
Things to remember when using a Ziploc bag in the microwave:
Ziploc bags are microwave safe but there are concerns about their safety due to their plastic composition.
If you must use a Ziploc bag, then keep the following points in mind:
- Ensure the Ziploc bag is labeled microwave safe and has the stamped FDA approval
- Ziploc bags should ONLY be used to reheat food. It is not meant for cooking, boiling, or steaming.
- Ziploc bags have a melting point of 90.5 degrees Centigrade or 195 degrees Fariheinet. So, the food you are reheating should not exceed these numbers.
- If a Ziploc bag overheats, the bag will likely melt because of its plastic composition, or it will burst.
- When the bag melts, chemicals will seep into the food, and this is harmful when consumed.
We have established that Ziploc bags can be used in the microwave. However, when it comes to safety there are guidelines that must be followed, and this has been detailed extensively.
If you are still unsure about using Ziploc bags in the microwave, make use of your microwave-safe dish or bowl instead.