1. Microwave Types
- Converts energy into microwaves that heat the food.
- Fast and efficient.
- Comes with pre-set menu functions for ease of use when you are in a hurry.
- Also known as microwave ovens because they are a microwave and convection oven, with a heating element and fan that circulates air around food for faster, more even cooking.
- Provides more variety in cooking, allowing for not only microwaving but also convection oven baking, browning, crisping and broiling.
Microwaves can be built into the kitchen cabinets, stand alone on your kitchen bench, or fit into a specific spot, to match your existing décor. Microwave ovens also come in stainless steel, white, silver, black and an increasing array of colour options, to suit your personal style.
2. How much power do you need?
A microwave's power is measured in wattage, with typical models ranging from around 800W to 1,500W. Bigger may be better in this instance, but consider these factors before taking the plunge. Higher wattage means faster cooking food, however if you're only using it for the occasional ready meal, this may not be very important. On the other hand, a more powerful microwave may be a good idea if you're knocking up big meals for the whole family.
3. How much capacity do you need?
When deciding on which microwave to buy, you’ll need to consider the size of the product. Microwaves can range from roughly 20 litres up to 44 litres and which one you choose will depend on a variety of factors, including:
- Purpose – will it be used mostly to reheat or defrost your food, or to cook larger family meals on a regular basis?
- Available space in the kitchen
- How much you intend to use it
- Where will it be housed - on the benchtop, in a cavity?
4. Setting and Functions
If you buy a conventional microwave, chances are it will have limited functions such as heating and defrosting food. However, more advanced models may have baking, roasting and grilling options, as well as one-touch pre-programmed settings that mean you don't have to guess how long to cook your food for. Make sure to investigate the available settings and controls to gauge how easy they are to navigate, as well as the likelihood you will use them.
5. Microwave Cooking Technology & Design
Some microwaves have inverter technology that delivers a steady stream of consistent energy into the microwave when you want to cook with a lower heat for perfect pulled pork, salmon, eggs, sauces and more. Microwaves that don’t have inverter technology have to switch between using 100 per cent and 0 per cent power when you choose 50 per cent power, whereas a microwave with inverter technology uses 50 per cent power the entire time so your food is more evenly defrosted and cooked.
You’ll also need to work out whether you want a benchtop microwave that sits on your kitchen benchtop and just plugs into your power point (perfect if you’re renting), or, if you’re renovating or building think about a built-in microwave that’s built into your kitchen cabinetry and connected by an electrician for a clutter-free benchtop and clean kitchen lines. A few design-savvy brands have created built-in microwaves that match their oven, microwave and coffee machines designs for seamless kitchen continuity and modern style.
6. Other Clever Ways to Use Your Microwave
- Disinfect plastic chopping boards – thoroughly wash, rub with lemon and microwave for one minute.
- Sanitise sponges – submerge non-metal sponges in water with lemon juice or white vinegar, remove sponge and microwave it for one minute.
- Sterilise bottles – get a special microwave steriliser and use it to sanitise baby bottles, dummies and toys in the microwave.
- Heat plates – spray water onto microwave-safe plates, stack, and microwave for one minute, drain water and wipe dry to keep food hot.
- Juice lemons and limes – microwave for 10 seconds if small and 20 seconds if large before cutting so you can squeeze out more juice.
- Toast nuts – put on a plate, microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, stir every minute, then add to cereal, salad and pasta for extra crunch and flavour.
- Soften sugar and honey – microwave hard brown sugar on medium for 10-20 seconds after adding a little bit of water, and microwave hardened honey on medium for 30-60 seconds.
- Heat heat packs – microwave wheat packs for sore backs and gel packs for headaches if they don’t have any metal covering.
- Warm up wax and masks – microwave home waxing kits for less mess, and warm up your hair and face masks for 10-20 seconds.
7. Easy Microwave Cleaning
There are two quick and easy ways to clean the inside of your microwave:
- With white vinegar:
Pour one cup of white vinegar and one cup of water into a microwave-safe bowl or measuring jug, put a wooden spoon into the mixture, microwave for 5-10 minutes, remove with an oven mitt and wipe the inside clean with a sponge; or
- With white vinegar:
Pour half a cup of water into a microwave-safe bowl or measuring jug, cut lemon in half, squeeze lemon juice into water and add the squeezed lemon to water as well, microwave for 3 minutes on high, leave to steam in the unopened microwave for 5 minutes, remove then wipe the inside with a clean, dry tea towel or cloth.
To clean the outside of the microwave, spray it with rubbing alcohol then buff with a microfibre cloth.