Microwave Ovens – Buying and Cooking Tips

Basic information on owning a microwave oven and tips on microwave cooking and when to replace this type of kitchen appliance.
For some the microwave oven is one of the most frequently used appliance in the kitchen. There can be many benefits to using this appliance especially if the user is knowledgeable of it’s abilities.

Microwaves are much like radio and television waves. Microwaves cause friction which in turn creates the heat required to cook foods. Foods cook faster in the microwave oven than in a conventional oven and since a microwave requires no pre-heating it reduces time and energy consumption. The automatic timer feature of the microwave oven ensures that as long as the cooking time has been set correctly the food will not overcook. In addition to the microwave oven’s ability to cook foods it can also be used to defrost frozen foods and re-heat leftovers. These are all advantages that fit into today’s fast paced way of life.

Available Features on Many Brands of Microwave Ovens

  • Timer
  • Variable Cooking Power - a variety of cooking levels such as high, medium, low, and defrost.
  • Touch Control
  • Turn Table

Techniques for Microwave Cooking

Stirring - many microwave recipes include stopping to stir the dish, this mixes the hotter ingredient at the centre with cooler ingredients at the edge of the dish during the cooking process. Stir from the outside to the centre of the food. Foods which require constant stirring on a conventional burner stove only need occasional stirring in the microwave.

Turning Over or Separating Food -–often needed during defrosting.

Arranging Food – place foods in a circle so that all sides are exposed to the microwave energy eqally. Place foods with the thicker part on the outside to allow it to cook throughout without over cooking the inside or centre.

Covering – holds moisture and speeds heating. Perforate plastic covers to allow steam to escape. this produces the same effect as partial covering in conventional cooking methods.

Rotating – helps to cook food evenly. Many microwave ovens are featured with a rotating turntable to turn the food while it is cooking.

Factors of Consideration in Converting Conventional Recipes to Microwave Recipes

Metal cooking dishes and foil dishes and coverings can be a danger in the microwave as they may cause sparks, arching, and combustion. Recent research indicates that some plastics may emit harmful gasses when heated and are also not safe for use in microwaves. Cardboard or glass dishes are safe for microwave use.

Foods requiring a crisp fried crust or dry surface do not work well in microwave cooking.

The shorter cooking time for microwaves means liquids evaporate slowly. The amount of liquids can be greatly reduced.

Salt during microwave cooking can dry out foods. For best results salt meats and vegetables after cooking.

As a general rule recipes cooked in the microwave take about ¼ the time to cook as conventional cooking methods. Allow foods cooked in the microwave to stand before serving just as you would with foods prepared in a conventional oven.

When to Replace this Appliance

Microwave ovens are not made to last indefinitely and just like other kitchen appliance they should be replace when they are damaged or fail to operate properly. Keeping this appliance clean and keeping it from harm will generally extend it's usefulness. Any damage or un-natural wearing away of the painted surface inside the microwave may cause sparks or arching when bare metal is exposed to the microwave rays. Microwaves should also never be submersed in water, dropped, or left outside as these events can cause damage to the electrical wiring inside the microwave. If the microwave has passed it’s warranted life or is not operating safely it is likely time to replace it. Microwaves can range in price depending on the size and power capacity of the unit but are a very useful and economical appliance to have.

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