The microwave ovens have become an integral part of our daily lives. With an ever-increasing presence in our homes, office pantries and convenience stores, a microwave oven is an efficient kitchen appliance to reheat, grill and bake a wide variety of food items.
They are being used to reheat frozen foods, prepare sandwiches, and bake cakes and even to cook elaborate meals. The microwaves are not only energy efficient compared to traditional gas stoves, but are also pretty convenient to use. In addition to saving power consumption, microwaves also save time by cooking foods in minutes.
How a Microwave Oven Works?
A microwave oven works by producing micro wavelength radiation of 2450 MegaHertz. The radiation passes through the food molecules and emits energy to produce heat. Food particles have positive and negative polarity, just like a magnet.
The radiation rotates the poles in food molecules millions of times per second. This polarity rotation generates energy which eventually produces heat to cook the food.
What are the Advantages of a Microwave Oven?
When it comes to convenience, a microwave oven outruns other conventional cooking appliances by a huge margin. Listed below are a few of the advantages of a microwave oven over traditional cooking methods.
Microwave ovens can cook food up to 4 times faster than gas or electric range of cooking appliances.
Less Power Consumption
It consumes much lesser electrical energy compared to induction stoves, heater, and other electric cooking equipment.
If studies are to be believed, the heating technique used in microwave ovens preserves the nutrients better than gas burners and induction stoves. In other words, a microwave oven makes you healthier.
No External Heat or Fume Generation
Microwave oven restricts heat from emerging out in the kitchen. As there is no physical fire, there’s no question of smoke generation. You won’t feel suffocated and your kitchen will remain cool throughout.
Does it need any explanation? Microwaves are state-of-the-art cooking appliances that are far safer and ensure you complete peace of mind.
With a microwave oven, there are no more food spill-overs while cooking. Stains on the walls are a thing of the past. Moreover, microwave requires minimal cleaning after food preparation. As a result, your kitchen will shine brighter without any considerable cleaning effort from your end.
Types of Microwave Ovens
There are different types of microwave ovens that are designed to perform specific tasks. For example, you can’t use a grill type microwave for baking purpose. The most important decision while buying a microwave oven is which oven type to buy.
There are three fundamental types of microwave ovens available in the market – solo, grill, and convection – each of which is designed to cook particular food items.
Solo Microwave Oven – Ideal for reheating frozen food and simple cooking.
Solo microwave ovens are the entry-level models that use a single magnetron to produce microwaves. Microwave magnetron cooks food inside to outside. It can be the perfect cooking appliance for bachelors or a small family. These are best suited for cooking simple meals and reheating purpose. You can’t use solo microwave ovens for grilling and baking purpose.
Grill Microwave Oven – Best for prepared grilled foods such as kebabs and sandwiches.
Grill type microwave ovens are fitted with additional grilling accessories. They are ideal for preparing grilled meat, kebabs, and sandwiches. You can also use grill microwaves for reheating thawing purpose. In addition to the magnetron, grill microwave ovens also have heating coils. It makes use of both the magnetron as well as grill function to cook foods in minutes.
Convection Microwave Oven – Perfect for roasting and baking. Can also be used to reheat and grill.
Convection microwave ovens are the most advanced types of microwaves available in the market. It uses microwave magnetron, heating elements, and heat circulation fans.
Microwave magnetron cooks foods from inside to outside, while heating elements radiate energy from outside to inside – making the food crispier and properly roasted. Moreover, a heating fan is used to circulate heat waves efficiently, which plays an important part in baking foods uniformly.
A convection oven is a must for baking cakes, pizzas, and muffins. Additionally, it can also be used for grilling purpose. You can cook almost any types of food using a convection type microwave oven.
Given below is a chart of cuisines that each type of microwave oven is capable of cooking –
|Food to cook||Solo||Grill||Convection|
|For reheating food||Y||Y||Y|
|For heating and making beverages like milk, coffee and tea||Y||Y||Y|
|Pasta, noodles and rice||Y||Y||Y|
|Brownies and cakes||N||N||Y|
|Breads, kulchas and naans||N||N||Y|
Microwave Oven Size and Power Consumption:
Microwave oven comes in different sizes. The power consumption varies accordingly. Expectedly, smaller ones are more power efficient.
Compact ovens with a capacity of 15-24 liters can suffice the requirements of a small family of consisting of 3/4 members. These smaller microwaves yield 500 to 800 watts of power, saving a significant chunk of your electricity bills. However, do keep it in mind that lower the power consumption is, greater is the cooking time.
Mid-sized microwave ovens offer a capacity of 25-31 liters, which is sufficient to cater to everyday requirements of 6-member family. The power yield is in the range of 800 to 1200 watts.
Full-sized microwave ovens are ideal for restaurants and convenience stores. While anything over 32 liters is considered full-size, it can go much beyond that.
Panasonic has recently introduced a 2.2 cubic feet convection microwave, which roughly translates to a capacity of 62 liters. Quite naturally, full-sized microwaves consume the highest amount of electricity and provide you 1200 to 1600 watts of energy.
|Family size||Usage||Ideal capacity||Power Consumption|
|(2 to 4 members)||Solo Microwave Oven||15 to 24 Litres||500 – 800 Watts|
|(2 to 4 members)||Grill Microwave Oven or
Convection Microwave Oven
|16 to 24 Litres||800 – 1200 Watts|
|(6 to 8 members)||Grill Microwave Oven or
Convection Microwave Oven
|17 to 24 Litres||1200 – 1600 Watts|
A Few Safety Tips on Microwave Cooking:
- Do not put utensils made of metal inside the microwave oven, instead, it is highly recommended to use only those plastic utensils which are microwave safe.
- Before putting glass utensils inside a microwave, make sure that they are microwave safe.
- Wear microwave oven gloves while baking in convection mode as it can get really hot inside.
- Do not put baby milk bottles in the microwave oven.
- Check for leakage on a periodic basis.
- Never leave the door open while cooking is in progress.
- Never heat flammable food or beverage in a microwave.
- Place microwave away from other heating sources.
- Do not cover the vent of the microwave at the top when it is in use.
- After cooking, allow the utensil to stand in the microwave for a short time before taking it out. It will prevent the risk of burn injuries.
- Avoid over-sized food containers. There should be enough space inside the microwave for the heat wave to propagate properly.
- Finally, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions carefully.
Some Important Facts and Myths about Microwave Ovens
Hearing contradictory opinions about microwave ovens from your friends and relatives? Not sure whether to trust them or not? Is your research on the internet proving to be inconclusive? Don’t worry, you are not alone.
Just Google “are microwave ovens safe”, and you will be directed to a barrage of posts with the pros and cons of microwave cooking. Most of what is written is pure trash and don’t have any scientific research to back up the claims. So don’t believe everything you read or hear.
Also Check: Direct Cool or Frost Free Refrigerator
We will conclude the article with some important facts and myths about the use of microwave ovens.
Microwave Oven Facts
Microwave oven saves energy
In the case of microwaves, the entire energy is focused directly on food instead of heating containers or surrounding air. That’s why microwave ovens consume less amount of energy compared to other electric cooking appliances.
Boiling water in a cup can be explosive
Yes, that’s a fact every microwave oven user must be aware of. When you heat water in a microwave for too long, it can explode because a microwave prevents the bubbles from forming.
This is because water can get heated way past its boiling point, and in such an event, if it is disturbed or moved away, or if anything is dropped in it, the heat present in the water can release violently, thus splashing the water out of the container.It can potentially cause severe burns.
Microwave can’t heat metal containers
Plastic, glass or ceramics allow radio waves to pass through, while metal reflects them away. That’s why metal containers don’t considerably heat up in microwave ovens.
You can’t heat oils in a microwave
Oil molecules lack the polarity to be heated with radio waves. Same goes true for frozen butter. Butter mainly contains oils and if frozen, the amount of water present is in the form of ice – which locks up the water molecules in crystal form, making it difficult for a microwave to perform oscillation.
Check out: OTG vs Microwave Ovens
Microwave Oven Myths
Unsafe Electro-magnetic rays are emitted from Microwaves
Technically, the microwave doesn’t make use of radiation, rather it uses radio waves and turns them into heating energy. The photons in the microwave are much lesser in intensity than visible light. So there is no question of unsafe electro-magnetic rays getting emitted from microwave ovens.
Microwave cooks inside out
It’s actually the opposite. Microwaves work on the outer layer and food and let the heat transfer gradually to the inner layers. Some advanced convection microwave ovens, however, has the ability to cook food both ways.
Nutrients in food get destroyed in the microwave
It can’t get any further from the reality! Scientific research has proved that microwave ovens are better equipped in preserving the nutritional value of food items. Microwaves retain more amount of vitamins and minerals than almost any other cooking method.
Microwaves give you cancer
Came across that popular email/WhatsApp forward that is being circulated for years? If the American Cancer Society is to be believed, the worst that could happen from microwave radiofrequency is burn on your skin. And even that could happen if your microwave oven is damaged or malfunctioning.
Microwaved water alters DNA and kills plants
It is worth mentioning here that microwave heats the food items by making their molecules vibrate. It, in no way, changes the structure of the molecules. Moreover, water doesn’t even contain DNA. Try to pour a glass of microwaved water on a plant and see the result yourself.
Microwave is not suitable for heating plastics
While some high-grade plastics are microwave safe, it is best to avoid plastic containers for microwave use. Plastic containers can release toxic doses of Bisphenol A (BPA) when heated in the microwave, which poses health hazards including metabolic and neurological damage.
This brings us to the end of this article. As is evident, microwaves come in various types and it is essential to gauge your requirements pretty well to be able to make the right choice.
Further, in addition to choosing a proper type, it is equally essential to select a reasonable size according to the quantity of food you plan to cook.
Got any queries? Do let us know in the comments below.