It is hard to find a well-equipped kitchen without a microwave oven. A luxury not so long ago, today microwaves are not only affordable but also easy to use. For busy people with too much to do and too little time, the microwave is a blessing that is taken for granted and makes sure that they can grab a quick meal that is not only hot but also tasty. Most of all, they save a lot of time, while being energy efficient at the same time.
How microwaves work
We won’t go into the boring technical details – but here is how a microwave works. It uses microwaves or radio waves at a frequency of 2.5 gigahertz to heat the food. These waves enter the oven cavity through an opening in a straight line. The turntable in the oven rotates the food to cook it evenly.
These radio waves get absorbed by water, fats and sugars and converted into heat. By the way, plastics, glass and ceramic material do not absorb this heat. Since metal reflects microwaves, metal utensils are not used in microwave ovens.
Generally, people tend to use the microwave oven for thawing or preheating food. However, there are microwave ovens with plenty of features that let you cook your entire meal quickly and efficiently. Food is cooked from the inside to the outside, so there’s usually no danger of burning. When you cook vegetables in microwaves, the nutrition is retained.
What to look for when you buy a microwave:
Naturally, price is not the main deciding factor. There are other questions to answer like:
How many people you usually cook for – for a large family, you will need an oven that is bigger and more powerful.
Will the microwave oven be your primary cooking source? How large is your cookware and will it fit in the oven? Do you need features like defrost, cook, and keep-warm? Can you accommodate your microwave oven on the counter-top or would you consider a under-cabinet model? Depending on the power wattage of your microwave, cooking time will vary from recipe to recipe.
Features you can expect in a microwave include:
A turntable rotates the food and cooks it evenly. This turntable can be removed for cleaning
-Convection helps to cook tasty baked items and roasts
-Grilling and toasting
-Browning does the job of the broiler in your traditional oven
-Probes and sensors help tell whether the food is fully cooked
-Timer buttons that let you pre-set the time for specific recipes.
Then there are short cut keys, numeric keypads, trays, removable racks and so on. Today’s major brands give you a host of features, innovating by increasing cooking space without increasing size through recessed turntables and locating the controls on the door. But think twice about paying for features you are unlikely to use.
Cost wise, the counter-top models are the least expensive and most commonly opted for. But there are models that can be mounted over your cooking range and this can be advantageous if you are short on space.
There are reliable brands like GE Frigidaire, Kenmore, LG, Panasonic, Sharp, Whirlpool etc in the market – all of which offer a variety of microwave oven models. It is worthwhile to go in for one that matches your specific needs.