It isn’t hard to see why the microwave oven is now the most popular cooking appliance for many families. A microwave is much quicker and more efficient than a standard oven and doesn’t heat up the kitchen in summer. It’s the ideal way to defrost frozen foods, heat beverages and leftovers and prepare frozen dinners. Despite their popularity microwaves do have some drawbacks. For example, they don’t brown meats and baked goods like conventional ovens. And since you can’t use metal in most microwaves, you’ll probably need to invest in a set of microwave-safe glass, ceramic or plastic cooking and storage containers.
Microwaves also tend to cook unevenly, although most manufacturers address this issue with heat-distribution systems or turntables. If you don’t have a microwave yet, consider adding one during your remodeling project. Some households even include two of them-one by the cooktop to melt butter and defrost frozen foods and another by the refrigerator to prepare snacks and leftovers.
Since most microwave ovens are priced in a relatively narrow range, between £100 and £400, your selection should be based on how many features you want, how much space you have and how much microwave cooking you plan to do in your kitchens. Cooking power-measured in watts is another consideration. Seven hundred to 800 watts is ample power for a small microwave, while mid-size and large models should have at least 1000 watts. There are three types of microwave ovens: basic, sensor and convection. If you’ll mostly be reheating meals, defrosting food or popping corn, get a basic microwave.
Most have automatic settings that set the time and power level for various foods. The next step up is a sensor microwave that has more sophisticated automatic controls. For example, some of them will measure the moisture of the food and automatically shut off the power when it’s done, to avoid overcooking. Finally, you can get a convection microwave that combines the functions of a microwave and a convection oven in one unit. These models allow you to switch over to conventional heat to bake pies and charbroil roasts. Microwaves come in many sizes, from 1/2-cu.-ft. models that rest on a countertop or hang beneath a cupboard to 11/2-cu.-ft. built-in units. lf you’re not sure where to put your new microwave, try to place it near your food preparation area, and be sure to allow at least 11/2 in. on all sides for ventilation. Also, don’t connect your microwave to the same electrical circuit as your refrigerator or other high-amp appliance; if the microwave’s power output is reduced, foods may not cook properly.
To size your microwave in the kitchen, measure the space you have in mind, allowing enough room to open the door fully To make sure the cooking area will be large enough, bring a plate or cooking dish along with you to the store. If you’re tight on counter space, consider an over-the-range unit that includes an integrated venting system and task lighting for the cooktop. Be aware that this placement can be hazardous for children and may limit your space for working at the range.