How the Microwaves Work

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microwave_work_cSo how does a microwave oven work? Leaving aside the technical details, what you really need to know is how the microwaves affect and cook the food. The microwaves, which are invisible, are produced when the electricity supply is connected and the oven is switched on. The microwaves activate the food or liquid particles, so that they move rapidly one against another, causing friction, which in turn causes heating.

It is really very simple. The microwaves, which are invisible, are produced when the electricity supply is connected and the oven is switched on. The microwaves activate the food or liquid particles, so that they move rapidly one against another, causing friction, which in turn causes heating. The longer the microwave oven is switched on, the hotter the particles become, so that eventually cooking takes place. Some kinds of food cook more quickly than others, which is equally true with conventional cooking, for example fish is quick, whereas swede is slow and anything that has to take in water to swell, such as rice, is slow, whereas pasta is quick.

When the microwaves enter the food they have to divide themselves up through the total quantity or weight. Thus if the amount in the microwave oven is small, cooking will be quick but if there is a great volume of food being cooked at one time, this will be relatively slower. Also certain foods attract microwaves more readily than others, for instance microwaves are particularly drawn towards water, fat and sugar.

Cooking times are frequently much faster than conventional cooking times but not in every case. For example one jacket potato may take 4 minutes in the microwave oven, two 7 minutes and six 17 minutes but if you wanted to cook, say, 30 potatoes for a party it would be quicker to cook them all at once in the conventional oven for one hour, as to do them in the microwave oven six at a time, would take 85 minutes.

All microwave ovens have certain hot and cold areas and this pattern will remain constant in that particular appliance (it is only a matter of the microwaves congregating in clusters in particular spots). Before buying it is not possible to determine exactly where these hot spots will be: they are different in every oven and is not a question of model or type. It is as well to find out where your hot and cold spots are in the oven, so that you can take advantage of them. To do this you need nine ramekins or small dishes of exactly the same size, shape and material. Fill them with exactly the same amount of water at the same starting temperature. Place the dishes evenly spaced on the oven floor or turntable and switch on. In ovens without a turntable, you will be able to see that dishes in the hottest spots will come to the boil first. In those with a turntable you will observe that as the dishes pass through the hot spots bubbles will appear, which subside as the dishes move into a cooler region.

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