- Remember that domestic microwave ovens are not suitable for commercial applications.
- Ask yourself what are you going to use it for? For example, in conjunction with other appliances, an additional oven, for thawing and reheating, for pre-prepared ready foods, as the sole source of cooking, for single or family cooking.
- Decide where you are going to site the cooker. Many can be placed on the work surface, built-in or even hung on the wall.
- Obtain as many leaflets as possible and mark those which fit in with your required dimensions.
- Consider the type of features you may use.
- Visit a store to look and ask more questions.
- Ask to see the instruction books to be sure it is written well enough for you to get the best results out of the appliance.
- Having brought the microwave cooker read the operation manual thoroughly and visit the library to borrow microwave cookery books. Find one which suits your needs and then consider buying the book.
Talking Microwave Language
||All models need a magnetron to generate microwave energy, a cooking cavity in which food can be placed and a timer to time the cooking operation.
- Power Output
This is the maximum amount of microwave energy which the appliance will give for heating or cooking operations. It is usually described in Watts.
- Microwave Symbol
Situated on the front of the cooker. This gives the maximum power output and category letter for heating small quantities of food which will relate to heating instructions given on food packs.
The controls may be either in the form of buttons, dials or touch controls. Often those with only dials are very simple to operate but may have less versatile operational facilities.
- Variable Power
You may not always wish to use the full amount of microwave energy so the manufacturer supplies a control which enables you to reduce the wattage, for example 100% for cooking down to 10% for defrosting.
Defrost is a special position that reduces the microwave energy to a very low level so that when you wish to thaw food it will be a slow, gentle process and the food will not start to heat or cook.
The timer is simply a means of timing the thawing, heating or cooking operation and will automatically stop at the time you have selected. A reminder bell or audible signal is incorporated so you will hear when the operation has been completed.
Some models have a start control which is pressed to start the generation microwave energy.
Interlock devices are rarely visible but are an important safety feature, two are generally fitted but some manufacturers may incorporate three. These are specially designed to ensure that the microwave energy cannot not be generated should the door be ajar even so much as a whisker. Should one device fall then the next one ensures total safety.
Features - What can they do for you?
A turntable fitted to the base of the oven cavity revolves throughout the cooking operation. Some manufacturers use it to give a better energy distribution, others as a sales feature. Sometimes a control is fitted so that it can be switched off should you wish to use an extra large dish. However even with a turntable, it is still necessary for the food to be stirred, turned or re-arranged during the cooking process. Commercial models do not usually have turntables.
- Wave Stirrer
This is sometimes called a paddle. It is used to 'scatter' the microwaves in the cooking cavity and contributes to an even energy distribution.
- Sensor Cooking
A sensor device does away with the need for you to calculate thawing, heating or cooking times. The sensor is automatically programmed to calculate the cooking time by the manufacturer, and will switch off once the food is ready.
An electric grill element is fitted to the roof of the cooking cavity (and sometimes the floor) which can be used as an independent grill or for browning food which has been cooked by the microwave. Some can also be used at the same time as you are cooking with microwaves.
- Microwave Entry
With most models, the microwave energy enters the cavity from one place, sometimes called the Waveguide Cover. Some manufacturers have designed their models so that the microwaves enter from two places.
As the name indicates, a memory device can remember what it has been instructed to do. You decide on which operation you will use frequently, then programme the instruction into the ovens memory. Thereafter, the microwave will always carry out the same operation at the touch of the memory control.
- Delay Start
The delay start control gives you the opportunity to put food in the oven and then programme the microwave to come on at a later time.
- Power Boost
For very short operations a control is fitted so that you can obtain extra microwave energy for the cooking process.
Combination Microwave Ovens
A combination microwave oven is likely to include many of the features mentioned earlier but it gives you rather more than a traditional microwave oven. It also incorporates electric heating elements and often a fan.
As a result you can use the cooker as:
- A microwave.
- A secondary electric oven.
- With the microwaves and electric heating elements on at the same time. With this function, you are able to get a fast cooking result due to the microwave energy yet at the same time, the browning or crisping effect which you may desire for certain foods and dishes cooked conventionally in an oven.
Features of domestic microwave cookers are varied and often specific to a manufacturer.
These can be used in the same manner as described for a traditional microwave.
These can roast and barbecue meat at the same time as microwave cooking.
You can enter the weight and type of food and the appliance will automatically select the oven temperature, the microwave power output and the cooking time, heating the food to perfection.
- Two Level Cooking
With a rack or shelf provided you can cook at two levels simultaneously.
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