starrantymicrowavecookingHave a microwave at home? Almost every household has one, but very few people make the most of them.

Microwave technology has come a long way in recent years, and most microwave ovens now offer a whole host of different functions and tricks to make your life easier. This article explains how to use the most common settings on your microwave, what they can do, and how to save time and energy by using your microwave instead of your oven. As you must be already aware that Microwave cooking is different –

  • Microwaves cook from the outside in, so the center takes longer to cook.
  • Edges of food may get crisp, but not brown.
  • Foods continue cooking for a few minutes after being removed.
  • Small amounts of food can be heated or cooked quickly.
  • You need microwave-safe utensils. You probably already have many things you can use.
  • Larger amounts of food take proportionally more time to cook.
  • It’s easy to overcook food in the microwave, but all microwaves turn off automatically. 
  • Utensils don’t scorch, making microwaves ideal for sauces, chocolate, and fruit.

Are there buttons and settings on your microwave that you don’t exactly know what they mean? The first thing you should do is consult the manual you received when you first bought your microwave. Many are common settings as follows :

  • Defrost – The automatic defrost setting can be a lifesaver when you’re using the microwave to defrost cold cuts and meat. To defrost in the microwave, first unwrap and dispose of any packaging, and separate food pieces as much as possible.
  • Popcorn – This is another standard setting in many microwaves. Cooking time however does vary by brand and butter content, so be sure to stand by to listen for the kernels to slow to popping every one to two seconds and stop the cook time.
  • Reheat – Most reheat settings immediately set the power to 75% and a five-second cooking time. From there, you can increase cooking time by pressing the [+] or [-] buttons on your microwave.

    Most microwaves also come with two power settings: high and low. In many cases, the low setting is used for defrosting and the high microwave setting can both fry and steam your food. Use these guidelines when cooking your meal and you can shave off minutes—or even hours—of your cook time. The power level is adjusting how much the microwave cooks. At 100% power, it is emitting microwaves 100% of the time. At 50% power, it’s emitting microwaves 50% of the time (alternating 10 seconds “cooking”, 10 seconds just turning the turntable).

    • 100% or High – Good for reheating leftovers and food items such as soups, beverages and vegetables. You can also cook small pieces of meat, poultry and fish.
    • 75% or Medium-High – Use this setting for reheating rice, pasta or casseroles you can stir. You can also cook fish at this setting.
    • 50% or Medium – Cooking at half the wattage is good for sensitive foods such as cheese and egg dishes. Also use this setting for cooking whole poultry items and pot roasts as well as heating up bakery goods.
    • 25% or Low – This is typically used as a defrost setting for meats, poultry and fish, but can also be used to soften delicate foods such as butter, cheese or ice cream.
      In the event your microwave does not follow “high” or “low” power settings, your best bet is to look on the inside door of your microwave or on the sticker pasted on the door, to determine the wattage of your microwave. From there, determine what 25%, 50% and 75% of the wattage is and correspond those to the power settings.

      Hope this information helps. Happy cooking to you 🙂


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