Choosing Microwave Ovens

Most American homes now have a minimum of one microwave oven, yet there are many millions of families still only thinking about buying one of these miraculous appliances for their home kitchens. There's a lot to consider before you go out and make your purchase.

First Consideration

The first consideration is where you want to put your microwave oven. Do you have room on your countertop? Maybe you want to install the microwave oven just above your range? But those aren't the only options by any means. You can get a built-in wall model or install the oven beneath or inside a cabinet. After you know where you want your microwave, measure the space by height, width, and depth. Check these measurements against the spec sheets to see that the dimensions check out, ventilation needs are met, and that the installation options of a given model fit your needs. 

You'll also want to think about who will be using the microwave. In many families, the microwave is used by cooks of every age and size. Think about the needs of your family and check to make sure that all controls, special features, door latches, and accessories will be both easy and safe to operate by all.

Reheating Leftovers

Microwave oven research shows that ovens are used by more cooks, more often, and for more tasks than the purchaser ever anticipated. Most microwave oven owners think of them as time-saving devices that are helpful during the preparation of meals, but in truth, the ovens may get more use as a means of reheating leftovers, preparing snacks, and thawing frozen food items. Some microwave owners may use them to prepare entire meals from scratch or for baking cakes. So take a good hard look at how you will be using your microwave before you choose the one with the right combination of cooking power, size, and special features you want.

Some of the special features you may see listed include varying power levels for handling all types of foods; defrost cycles; carousel turntables; automatic sensor cooking; browning elements; temperature probes; and a very long list of accessories and utensils that are made for use with a particular microwave oven model. Think about how many features offered will actually receive use by your family and consider whether the added costs are worth the extra expense.

Most modern microwave ovens use only microwave energy, but others do come with an electric element for browning foods to counteract the pale look of foods prepared with microwave energy. Still other ovens combine convection, radiant, and microwave cooking in one single oven. In most cases, you can use each cooking system on its own or in combinations. Most consumers prefer to alternate between the convection and microwave cycles to get the benefits of speed without sacrificing color and texture.