Programmes and Cooking Modes
To get the most out of your microwave, you’ll need to know about the different ways you can use it. This guide to programmes and cooking modes has definitions of the phrases you might come across.
You’ll already know how powerful your microwave is from its wattage. An adjustable power level won’t affect your machine’s wattage, but means it’ll pulse on and off intermittently. This lets you cook more gently if required – perfect for delicate foods or liquids which are prone to boiling over. The controls may come in the form of a couple of options (low and high), or you may be able to choose a percentage up to 100%.
Rather than shutting the power off intermittently to achieve slower cooking, inverter technology provides continuous reduced power. This is gentler on your food, for improved textures and flavours.
One Touch Cook
One touch cooking makes microwave programming easier and quicker. It means you’ll find buttons for specific food types, so you don’t need to mess around with timers and power levels for those common dishes. Press ‘pasta’, for example, and you can relax knowing your bowl of penne will turn out perfectly.
Like one touch cook, auto cook models have different pre-set modes for various food types. You may need to type in a couple of digits to let the machine know exactly what you’re cooking, along with the weight of your ingredients. This allows it to accurately calculate the cooking duration. Some state-of-the- art microwaves don’t need this information, since they rely on intelligent sensors instead.
This feature is the same as auto cook but designed to warm your food, rather than cook it. Some microwaves let you select whether you’re heating from room or fridge temperature, and you’ll have to enter a time or the weight of the food (unless your microwave has a built-in humidity/steam sensor). An extra fast or turbo option boosts the power, for faster reheating.
Power controls may come in the form of a couple of options, or you may be able to choose a percentage up to 100%.
Sensor Cooking, Reheating and Defrosting
Sensors work by detecting the moisture in the cavity’s air. They’ll stop the power if your food is at risk of drying out, to achieve outstanding results every time.
Defrost will be of one of the most commonly used programmes on your microwave. Forget about taking meat out of your freezer the night before – now you can defrost it safely within a matter of minutes.
You’ll probably need to select either a weight and food type (auto defrost) or manually choose a time. The exception is sensor defrosting, which you’ll find on high-end microwaves.
For defrosting, you’ll probably need to either select a weight and food type (auto defrost), or manually choose a time.
Chaos defrost is a faster and more effective way to thaw food. While traditional defrost programmes simply use a low power level, chaos defrost uses strong yet random pulses. It means that meat, bread and other foods are defrosted evenly, for safer cooking afterwards.
Delay start lets you set a time for the cooking process to begin. If you’re busy baking a pie, and you’d like the frozen peas ready for when the oven’s done in an hour, you’ll be able to arrange it beforehand. Get every element of a meal ready at the same time without it all becoming too hectic.
Multiple Sequence Cooking
This handy feature will combine two or three of your microwave’s functions in sequence. It lets you defrost, then microwave, then bake, for example, while only needing to be programmed once at the start. A built-in memory makes this possible.
Two Level Cooking
Save time by cooking more than one dish at a time. The best convection models have two level cooking and multiple rack positions, so you can use them as you would your main oven.
A steam function will maintain textures, flavours and nutrients within your food. Expect delicious, moist vegetables without any oil at all. These microwaves will have a little trivet to fill with water.
If your partner’s late home from work, a keep warm function will come in useful. This final stage will ensure your food stays piping hot without drying out.
Heat your plates quickly and easily in the microwave. Your machine might give you a choice of temperatures, or keep them warm until the food is ready.