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 explains some of the phrases you might come across.
You’ll already know how powerful your microwave is from the wattage. An adjustable power level won’t affect your machine’s wattage, but it’ll pulse on and off intermittently. This lets you cook at a less powerful setting if required, which is ideal 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 turning the power off intermittently to achieve a slower cooking time, inverter technology provides continuous reduced power. This is gentler on your food and produces improved textures and flavours.
One touch cooking means you’ll have buttons for specific foods.
ONE TOUCH COOK
One touch cooking makes microwave programming easier and quicker. It means you’ll have buttons for specific foods, so you don’t need to figure out the timing and power levels for those common dishes. For example, a pizza function will crisp up the base and gently brown the top.
Like one touch cook, auto cook models have different pre-set modes for various food items. You may need to type in a couple of digits to tell the microwave what you’re cooking, along with the weight of your ingredients. This allows the appliance to accurately calculate the cooking time. Some state-of-the-art microwaves don’t need this information, as they use 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. You’ll then have to enter the weight of the food or an amount of time, unless your microwave has a built-in humidity or steam sensor. An extra fast or turbo option can then boost the power, for faster reheating.
SENSOR COOKING, REHEATING, AND DEFROSTING
Sensors detect the air moisture inside the microwave. The power will stop if your food is at risk of drying out, which helps you to achieve fantastic results every time.
Power controls may come in the form of a couple of options, or you may be able to choose a percentage up to 100%.
Defrost is one of the most commonly used programmes. Forget about taking meals out of your freezer the night before – you can now defrost it safely within a matter of minutes.
You’ll usually need to select either a weight and food type (auto defrost) or manually choose a time. On some high-end microwaves, you’ll find a sensor defrost function which will automatically detect how long the food needs to defrost.
Chaos defrost uses strong, random pulses.
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, random pulses. It means that meat, bread and other foods are defrosted evenly, for safer cooking afterwards.
Delay start lets you choose when you’d like your microwave to start cooking. If you’re busy preparing dinner, and you’d like your frozen peas ready for when the oven’s done, you can arrange it beforehand. Get every element of a meal ready at the same time without the stress.
MULTIPLE SEQUENCE COOKING
This handy feature combines two or three of your microwave’s functions in sequence. You could defrost, then microwave, then bake, and only need to set it up once at the start.
This feature allows your food time to rest between multi-cooking programmes or to continue to cook in the residual heat.
TWO LEVEL COOKING
Save time by cooking multiple dishes at once with a two level cooking microwave. The best convection models have two level cooking features and multiple rack positions, so you can use it like your main oven.
A steam function will maintain textures, flavours, and nutrients within your food. Enjoy delicious, moist vegetables without using any oil. These microwaves will have a little trivet to fill with water to become steam.
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.
This feature uses gentle fan heat to circulate hot air around the inside of the microwave as well as the heat from the grill. This produces succulent and flavoursome food.