Microwave Settings and What they Really Mean

Mar 03, 2016 04:30 AM EST | By Josine Macaspac (media@latinospost.com)


Recently, people have started to rediscover the microwave as a cooking appliance beyond the usual popcorn. The New York Times even had an article about actually using it for cooking meals. The microwave is an appliance that can be found in most homes. Ideally, microwaves exist for our cooking convenience.

True enough, the microwave expedites some of our work but realistically, it doesn't quite replicate the cooking effectiveness of a stove. Because of this, microwave use has been limited to reheating or making popcorn. There are presets on most microwaves telling us that those settings are made for cooking specific meals. But despite following said presets, we never get the desired results. So what do these settings mean and why does the microwave not cook our food the way we want it to?

On your microwave, you might notice that that you can "alter" the power levels when you operate it. Some microwaves lets you set the power to a certain percentage, others have the "medium", "medium high" settings that corresponds to a certain power level. The most important thing to know is that this does not really mean that the microwave alters the power output. What really takes place here is the microwave pulses between 100 percent and zero percent trying to simulate what would have been the result in a lower percentage of power output. So the microwave runs at 100 percent then zero percent at certain intervals repeatedly. That is true for all of your microwave's presets.

If this is the basic principle behind all those settings, why do the manufacturers's put in all those buttons? According to microwave expert and consultant, Bob Schiffmann, "Everyone's trying to differentiate their oven. So they put more buttons and more functions. They're all trying to outdo one another." Some microwaves have sensors to adjust or turn off the machine at certain points of cooking. But Schiffmann says that these features are only available to those machines that cost above $100.

Not all microwaves operate the way as mentioned above. Schiffmann says that "Panasonic is the only microwave brand whose heating options operate like dimmer controls." This means that Panasonic is the only brand that actually lowers the power output when you set it to do that. But with their patent close to expiring, this can mean that in the future, other brands of microwaves can actually work the way you expect them to.

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