Microwave ovens are all about convenience. Whether you want to warm leftovers, make soup, tea or coffee, make instant snacks like popcorn, or cook some kebabs or paneer tikka, no other appliance makes it as easy as a microwave. It fits into our rushed lives like a glove, doesn’t it? However which microwave type and brand should you consider, which microwave features are important, what safety precautions should you know? Answer to all of these makes it a tedious task to decide which is the best microwave oven in India.
Consumer VOICE has compiled a comprehensive Microwave Oven Buying Guide to help you decide which is the best microwave oven to buy.
Types of Microwave Oven
To find the microwave most suitable for you, consider the types available and their capacity, before deciding on additional features. Three types of microwave ovens are available in the market.
Solo microwave ovens
Solo microwave ovens are entry-level models for simple/limited cooking. Best fit: for reheat, simple cooking.
Grill microwave ovens
These are provided with additional grilling accessories. They are suitable for reheating, cooking and grilling.
Convection microwave ovens
Convection microwave ovens use a fan and a heating element to create airflow patterns inside the microwave oven. These are best for reheating, cooking, grilling and baking.
What should be the Size/Capacity of a Microwave Oven?
The size that is best suited for you will depend on the number of family members and how often you are likely to use the microwave oven. In India, the microwave oven is used more to warm the food than to cook. In general, up to 20 litres is sufficient for a family of 2 to 3 persons; 21 litres–30 litres for a medium-sized family; and above 31 litres for a large family or large cooking.
What Is the Usable Cavity Volume of Microwave?
Generally, manufacturers mention the volume (in litres) of the microwave, including all the internal space in the inside cavity. But this volume isn’t the same that we measure, because a substantial part of this volume is not really usable. For consumers, the maximum usable capacity is the longest cylindrical utensil that can rotate inside the oven, if we deactivated the turntable. None of the brands we checked declare their usable cavity volumes. The so-called rated volume also does not match with the complete cavity volume, which is some 35 to 45 per cent less than the rated volume. Therefore, the useful volume is that volume where the turntable rotates in the cavity. Larger the turntable, better it is for even cooking.
It may be noted that usable cavity area may be quite less than the rated capacity claimed.
Features to Consider while Buying a microwave oven
Apart from regular features like auto defrost, multistage cooking and cooking-menu buttons, check out the following before making your choice.
- Child safety lock: This will prevent children from operating the microwave oven accidentally.
- Power rating: Check out the power rating. Microwave ovens come in the range of 600 to 1,500 watts. More watts mean faster cooking as it generates higher heat and in less time.
- Cooking sensors: These humidity-sensing sensors determine the humidity in the food item you are about to cook in the microwave and accordingly determine the cooking time. You should look for this feature while buying your microwave oven as it will eliminate the guesswork from your cooking and avoid overcooking of food.
- Operating control panel: Look for an oven that has a control panel that is easy to operate. Having a mechanical operating knob will be very easy to handle and it’s sturdy. However, it does not mean those flashy touch panels are bad. If they have enough information and if it’s easy to determine which button is for what, then you should be okay. And those touch panels look cool too.
- Multistage cooking: This feature is very good for Indian cooking style as our food is cooked at various temperatures depending on the amount of time. Some food items need to be cooked at high temperature initially and then moved to low temperature after a certain time. Multistage cooking will help you to automate this process by setting time intervals and temperatures to be used while cooking the food.
- Handy Shortcut Keys: Having shortcut keys on your microwave oven will make your life easier as common food items like popcorn and noodles require a fixed cooking time. You can cook these items by just pressing the keys from the auto-cook menu.
- Auto Defrosts: Just enter the weight of the food item and the oven will determine how much time is needed to defrost it. A nice feature for those ready-to-eat frozen-food lovers.
Safety Precautions while using a Microwave oven
- Carefully read the operating manual before starting the microwave oven.
- Look for microwave-specific cookware. Never use metal or metal-trimmed utensils in your microwave oven.
- Do not operate the oven when empty (except in prep-heat mode). It is best to leave a glass of water in the oven when not in use. The water will safely absorb all microwave energy if the oven is accidentally started.
- Do not operate the oven with a kitchen towel or a napkin; always use gloves when removing the dish from oven.
- Do not rinse the turntable by placing it in water just after cooking.
- Do not cook eggs in their shell as these will explode.
- Do not attempt deep fat frying in your oven.
- Remove the polythene/plastic wrapping from food before defrosting.
- If smoke is observed, switch off or disconnect the oven from the power supply and keep the oven door closed.
- Liquid or other foods must not be heated in sealed containers.
- Do not cover the ventilation slots.
- Avoid aluminium foil for cooking wrapped food.
- Do not try to repair the oven by yourself. Always take it to an authorised service centre.
Is Microwave food safe?
That’s a question of paramount importance since it is a popular belief these days that the rays of microwave make it unsafe to eat and nutrients are killed. Read on to know if t’s true.
How does a microwave oven cook food?
Microwave oven is an electronic appliance generally made up of various sub-assemblies and contains a microwave generator called magnetron. This magnetron, when powered, generates high-powered electromagnetic waves. Inside walls of the microwave oven cavity are reflective, which reflect these radio waves and pass through the food item kept inside a microwave oven on a turntable. Due to these microwaves, molecules inside the food item vibrate, and since vibration generates heat, this heat cooks the food.
Are microwave ovens safe?
Microwave ovens are considered safe if used properly. The food is just as nutritious (more so in some cases) as with any other cooking method. The electromagnetic waves stop as soon as you cut off the power and open the door; they don’t remain in the food and make it radioactive.
Can a microwave oven destroy the proteins/nutrients in food?
No, cooking food in a microwave oven does not destroy the nutrients. In fact, nutrients get destroyed due to overcooking or cooking at a very high temperature using any form of cooking like boiling.
Read the product survey done by Consumer VOICE experts to Compare Convection Microwave Oven on parameters like price, capacity, power consumption, display system, child safety likeprice and 6 more.
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