Making your breakfast in the morning or coming home late at night to make your meal might be a little tiring for you to do. So, most people simply order food from restaurants or purchase ready-to-eat food from retail stores. This is where a microwave comes in. Using a microwave oven (or simply a microwave) has been a helpful way of preparing food in the morning or cooking food at night. The good news is that you can even reheat the food that you won’t be able to finish in one meal and enjoy it later or the next day if you still want to continue eating it.
A microwave is a type of oven primarily designed to reheat, cook, bake, or grill food. It is another appliance that is convenient to use, especially since it does not require much attention or effort to use. A microwave oven uses what is called electromagnetic radiation for cooking food.
Types of Microwave Ovens
Solo Microwave Oven
Solo microwave ovens are the simplest and smallest type of microwave, which also makes them the most affordable type. It is useful for simple cooking operations such as cooking instant noodles, pasta, rice, or beverages; reheating a dish; and defrosting frozen foods. This type of microwave is suited for dormitory use, home kitchen use, or for those who are just beginning to use a microwave.
Grill Microwave Oven
Grilling is another feature added to this type of microwave with no traditional outdoor grilling setup. A grill microwave oven can essentially do what your solo microwave oven can do, except that it has an additional grilling function. With your grill microwave oven, you can then grill pizza, chicken, steak, or fish. Also, because this type of microwave has additional accessories such as the grilling coil, it can roast and toast your dish.
Convection Microwave Oven
A convection microwave uses a fan to circulate heat and combines what a solo microwave oven and convection oven can do. An additional feature of this type is its baking function for baking chocolate chip cookies, sponge cakes, and even fresh pieces of bread.
Smart microwaves include a remote-controlled feature and a Wi-Fi enabled feature that allows you to bake and grill. Some smart microwaves are even voice-enabled, so you can control and manipulate the microwave even when you are not near it.
Placement of Microwave Ovens
A solo, grill, or convection type of microwave will work with the different placements below. It is up to you which type is more convenient for each location.
A countertop is the most accessible placement for a microwave. Although microwaves occupy space in the countertop (which is a disadvantage if you have a small space for a countertop), they are reachable and lower the risk of spilling hot food coming from the microwave. Compared to other placements, they do not need installations as long as you have a plug outlet in the countertop.
Built-in microwaves can be customized as per the requirements and needs of a household. A built-in microwave can be installed in pre-existing cabinets or in walls using a trim kit, making them an excellent choice when the owner desires more countertop space. To make sure that your built-in cabinet is safe, you might need to seek help from professionals before installing it. The only disadvantage of a built-in microwave is that there are limited sizes or styles appropriate for a cabinet or wall installation, and if ever they break, they will be inconvenient to fix on your own.
Over the Range
Just like the built-in microwave, an over-the-range microwave frees up space on the countertop. They are mostly located above the range and have a pull-out vent system for drawing off small amounts of heat, smoke, or oil coming from the cooking surface. Some people say that this placement is not a good place for a microwave since it is too high and therefore creates a higher chance of spilling hot food on yourself. What you can do to avoid such a tragedy is to make sure that there is plenty of space on both sides of the range to serve as the landing area for food items you take out of the microwave.
Under-counter is another placement for a microwave that creates a discrete look in your kitchen. Microwaves placed under the counter are usually waist-height and can be installed below the countertop. They are encouraged in kitchens with limited space. The only disadvantage of such placement is that they are far too low and require bending down to retrieve food, which is difficult for elderly people in the house. Another is that they pose a danger to children as they are within reach of small kids.
Uses of a microwave
The basic function of a microwave is to reheat food, especially on special occasions when there is left-over food, or during meals when food goes cold because of long conversations. A microwave is an easy substitute for a stove because it does not need a lot of manipulation and fire control. Another advantage of reheating a dish in a microwave is that it retains the original form of the dish and does not make it burnt or soggy.
Baking is another function of a microwave, but compared to an oven, a regular microwave is not something that can be used in commercial baking. It can only perform a small number of basic baking recipes. You can find commercial microwaves if you want to start a business, but if you want to go big, shift to a type of oven intended for commercial cooking.
Boiling and Steaming
Boiling is efficient in a microwave since you can automatically control the boiling time of the dish. Steaming can also be done in a microwave and allows nutrients to remain, especially for vegetables.
Defrosting or turning a cold raw food warmer is another function that a microwave can do. In just a couple of minutes, a slice of frozen meat or vegetable will turn warm while retaining its original form and nutrients.
Microwaves can also roast simple snacks such as popcorn, garlic bread, or even a simple amount of meat.
Blanching is a method of boiling a vegetable in water and submerging it in ice-cold water afterward before cooking it or preserving it in a freezer. Blanching helps vegetables to keep their colors and maintain their nutrients. A microwave is a quicker way of blanching since different vegetables are preserved best when they are boiled in the exact time needed for them; which you can be timed correctly in an oven.
What is the difference between a microwave and an oven?
A microwave differs from an oven in terms of:
Amount of dish to be cooked: As mentioned, ovens are much larger and can cook or reheat multiple types of food simultaneously. Large dishes are encouraged to be cooked in an oven, while minimal or smaller portions of dishes are cooked in a microwave.
Reheating: Microwaves are much faster when reheating an already cooked food because of their electromagnetic waves. Besides, a microwave is much faster since they can only heat smaller portions of food. Meanwhile, an oven takes a while to heat food since it handles large (and even two different) portions of already-cooked food.
Quality of food cooked: Ovens are expected to cook better quality food, as a microwave has only limited features. For example, when you want your food to be caramelized and crispier, do it in an oven since a microwave can only stimulate water from your food, which prevents the food from turning brown and tasty.
Commercial use: Large industries for baking bread and pastries will surely use big, higher-capacity ovens. Microwaves are only convenient for kitchen use or small baking retailers.
There are different microwaves. They are categorized as solo microwaves, grill microwaves, and convection microwaves. The smart microwave is also an additional type of microwave that allows high-end technology to control it. Regardless of the type of microwave you own, cooking your food in a microwave is a quicker way to enjoy your dish.