Microwaves buyer's guide
Microwaves now do so much more than just heat up the occasional bowl of soup. They are fast, economical and perfect for cooking everything, from jacket potatoes to a joint of meat. Some models will even allow you to bake, roast or grill. All this makes a microwave the ideal way of cooking if you are busy, short on space or just want to make simple meals with the minimum of fuss and bother. This guide explains what microwaves can do and suggests some features to look out for.
Types of microwave:
Most standard models will allow you to cook food at low, medium or high power for a specific period of time and may also have specific programmes to make cooking easier. Settings are normally entered using a simple touch pad.
Microwave and grill
This is the best option if you want to brown or crisp food – something standard microwaves are unable to do. The grill can be used independently or to crisp or brown food that has been microwaved. Ideal for pizzas, lasagne, jacket potatoes, waffles, crumpets, toast or spring rolls.
Microwave combination oven
The ideal solution if you are short on space, this combines the features of a microwave, grill and convectional hot air oven. Functions can be used separately or in combination, making it ideal for baking, browning and crisping.
Key features to look for:
The capacity of a microwave can vary from 17 to 40 litres. Capacities of 27 litres or above are ideal for larger families.
The power of a microwave is measured in watts. The higher the power, the less cooking time is needed, but a number of power settings will be available for defrosting and slower cooking.
Extra fast defrost
This function pulses the microwave power for faster defrost times.
Automatically varies the cooking temperature meaning, for instance, that you can defrost and then cook using the same program.
Internal sensors detect the level of moisture in the food, so that the microwave can adjust the time accordingly.