A microwave oven is a common sight in any modern kitchen these days. Gone are the days when this kitchen appliance used to be the prized possession of the rich and affluent only. Now all you have to do is order this device from an e-commerce website for no more than a few thousand rupees just to get you started.
Although not an essential home appliance, it does make our life a lot easier and adds a lot more dimension to our cooking. While microwave ovens are particularly helpful when it comes to heating our leftovers, it has a wide range of applications and can be used to add some interesting twists to your cooking style or widen your scope with minimal effort.
In this article, we will go through the entire nitty-gritty of a microwave oven and explore its features and functions to understand this appliance better and make better use of it other than merely heating our leftovers.
What Is A Microwave Oven And How Does It Work?
The idea of using high-frequency radio waves to heat substances came to being in the 1920s-30s. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s-60s that this technology was put to use for heating food items.
A microwave oven cooks food by the means of high-frequency electromagnetic waves called microwaves. The heating occurs when the microwaves are absorbed by the constituents of the food such as water, fats, water, sugar and its molecules whose continuous vibrations produce heat.
A microwave oven generates radiation by the means of a device called a magnetron. The heating usually occurs inside the food without heating the air around it. This, in turn, greatly reduces the cooking time that would otherwise take much longer in a conventional oven. A portion of food is heated by the means of the absorption process. A microwave tends to heat certain types of food unevenly or it just takes longer at times. Case in point, it can heat food with moisture faster and more evenly because the moisture absorbs most of the radiation and gets evenly spread while dry foods tend to be heated unevenly.
Related reading: OTG, Microwave and Convection Oven-Decoding Their Similarities and Differences
Types Of Microwave Ovens And Their Purpose
Based on their core functions and features, there are essentially three types of microwave ovens in the market. Readers, please note, if you ever Google for “types of microwave oven”, chances are you will be bombarded with websites that claim to have over 10 types of microwave oven variants. We advise you not to get caught up with it since these are mainly gimmicks and not based on their core functions.
- Solo Microwave Oven: This is an entry-level microwave oven best suited for a bachelor or a family of 2-3. Its main job is to heat, reheat, and cook simple food items like noodles or pasta. It cannot be used for grilling or baking. Don’t go for this appliance if your heart is set on being a Masterchef.
- Grill Microwave Oven: As the name suggests, this appliance is best suited for grilling, searing or browning your meat, paneer, and vegetables. This device can heat, reheat the food and do the grilling at the same time. It is not suitable for any aspiring baker since its sole focus is on grilling.
- Convection Microwave Oven: A convection microwave oven can do it all; heat, reheat, bake and grill. This is an extremely versatile device that can be used in many ways to suit your cooking needs.
Related reading: Can I Use Stainless Steel In Oven?
Here is a quick comparison chart to get things into perspective.
|Food Items||Solo Microwave||Grill Microwave||Convection Microwave|
|Milk, Tea, coffee||Y||Y||Y|
|Rice, Noodles, Pasta||Y||Y||Y|
Uses of Microwave Oven
Readers note, the functionality of a microwave oven depends entirely on its users. There is no hard and fast rule to describe the functionality of a microwave oven as long as the device is used safely and the product inside the oven is in sound condition. Here is a list of the things a microwave oven is commonly used for. Any oven with a microwave function can take care of all these functions.
The microwave ovens primary function is to heat the food without burning it or making it too soggy. Just get the temperature right and keep an eye on the timer.
You can disinfect any kitchen items like small cutlery and utensils inside the microwave oven. Just soak the utensil a bit, apply lemon juice on it and heat them inside the oven for a minute or two.
Heat Beauty Products
You can heat your oil, moisturisers and other beauty products in case it is frozen or just needs a little shake-up.
Here is a list of functions of microwave ovens unknown is known to many.
Extract More Juice From Citrus Fruits
You can heat citrus fruits like lemon or orange in the microwave oven for less than a minute to make it juicier. Just squeeze it and you will be able to get a lot more juice than ever.
You can roast a whole bulb of garlic in mere 7-8 minutes which otherwise takes close to an hour if you use a regular stove. Just wrap it in foil and roast it for the assigned time. Garlic lovers, REJOICE..!
In case your honey has solidified, just heat it in the microwave oven for about a minute. Your honey will be back to its original form.
You can defrost your vegetable and meat easily without any effort by using a microwave oven without losing its form and its nutrients. Just put the veggies inside the oven and heat it for a1-2 minutes. Your veggies will be as good as new.
Related reading: How To Use An Oven?
You can blanch your fruits and vegetables with little effort and no wastage while retaining their nutritional value. Just heat the vegetables in a microwave oven safe bowl for 5-10 minutes and then submerge them in ice-cold water. Ziploc it and put it in the freezer.
You can soak your beans and lentils in a microwave oven instead of leaving them overnight. Soak the beans and lentils in a bowl full of water. Microwave it for 10 minutes and leave it inside for 45 minutes. Soaked beans and lentils are ready!
Freshen Stale Bread
You can freshen up your stale bread by putting a water-soaked kitchen towel on top of it and microwaving it for 15 seconds. Repeat it until the bread becomes hydrated.
Restore Crunch of Potato Chips
In case your potato chip has lost its crunch, place it on top of a kitchen towel and microwave it for 30 seconds. Repeat it if necessary.
You can roast your nuts and spices in the microwave oven for 15-30 seconds until their aroma is released.
Now, you needn’t throw your sponge after a couple of uses anymore now. You can disinfect your sponge by dipping it in a bowl of vinegar or soap water and microwaving it at full capacity for a minute or two. Just disinfect your knife and small cutlery in the same manner.
Proofing and Fermentation
A microwave can also be used as a proofer. Just boil a cup of water for 2-3 minutes and then place your dough beside it. Your dough will rise in no time. In cold climates, you can heat the oven and keep idili/dosa batter for fermentation too.
Place onion inside the microwave for 30 seconds and then cut it. You will notice that your eyes won’t get teary anymore. You can thank us later!
You can also dry your herbs like cloves, cumin seed, black pepper, etc. in a microwave. Just place them on a kitchen towel and microwave the herbs for 2-3 minutes. This preserves their taste and you can convert it into powder too if you wish.
Put a corn cob in the microwave oven with its stalk cut. Microwave it for a minute and you can pull the husk and its cover with relative ease. You can also shuck the corn easily now.
By this time, we hope our readers have been enlightened with the number of benefits and use a microwave oven can offer. It would be a disservice to this nifty little device if we use it merely for heating and re-heating our food. We hope this article will bring out the little Masterchef inside you or turn you into a raging life hack guru.