The microwave oven has given a new impetus to the culinary activities in the modern kitchen. This utility has become an unavoidable kitchen appliance. In a hectic lifestyle, a microwave oven is a word synonymous with convenience.
In the early stages of its introduction, it was primarily used for reheating stored or refrigerated food and to make popcorn. The main advantage of a microwave oven is that it can heat the food without heating the cookware directly. The food becomes hot first and then the cookware or the pan gets heated through the food in it. This phenomenon is a unique feature of the utility over the conventional ovens or stoves. In the subsequent periods it has become multipurpose equipment. Many new features were incorporated to facilitate baking, roasting, grilling and toasting apart from the usual cooking methods. The users are also benefited with the efficiency and economy that are offered by the microwave oven.
The most popular type of microwave oven is the small or portable one which can be placed on the kitchen worktop. It is known as compact size microwave oven and used for defrosting or heating food items. The bigger model is the medium sized one which can accommodate casseroles etc to cook vegetable and meat. The largest one is for cooking food in a large scale. Another model is the built in microwave oven, which can be installed only by professional technicians. The power consumption depends on the size of the oven. When the compact size requires 500 to 1000 watts of electricity, the largest size will work on wattage of 2000 or more. The special feature is the convection oven which will be equipped with a fan to circulate heat evenly so that the heating or cooking process will be faster. This type is an ideal one for small eateries or large households. Both built-in type and convection ovens are very expensive. They can be used for browning and broiling the meat in the course of cooking.
But in totality, the microwave oven is used for its efficiency and convenience and not very much for the qualitative advantages. The dieticians recommend microwave oven only for heating, browning and caramelisation. Many experts warn that nutritious values of vegetable will be lost in microwave cooking. Some reports caution that a microwave oven will divest the vitamin contents and phytonutrients of the food due to the radiation. Regular intake of food cooked in microwave oven will cause obesity and related diseases.
Like many other facilities available to those who lead a busy lifestyle, the microwave oven may also contribute to certain hazards. The best option is to use it selectively. It can be used for reheating, melting and making popcorn. Many new features are incorporated in the modern versions like facility to programme the cooking process. Timers are provided to cut off the power once the cooking is completed.
Maintenance of microwave ovens is important. The utility should be cleaned immediately after the use. The filters provided are easily removable to facilitate periodical cleaning. The turn table should be taken out and cleaned. Proper maintenance will ensure durability of the oven. The user should carefully read all the instructions in the manual issued by the manufacturers along with the product.