Microwave Cooking Advantages And Disadvantages

Microwave cooking has both advantages and disadvantages. Electromagnetic waves from a power source magnetron are absorbed by the food and food becomes hot at once. Thus microwaves do not require any medium of transfer of heat in cooking. The microwaves can be absorbed, transmitted or reflected. They are reflected by metals and absorbed by foods. When food is kept in the cavity of microwave oven for cooking, the microwaves generated walls are reflected and bounced back so they disperse throughout the oven and accomplish uniform heating of the food.

Cooking with microwaves differs radically from conventional cooking methods because the heat is generated inside the food rather than being transferred to the exterior of the food by conduction, convection or radiation.

The energy of these electromagnetic radiations excite the water molecule in food which bear a positive electric charge in one position and negative charge in other position if the molecule. When the electric field of the microwave interacts with the water dipole,the water molecules begin to vibrate very rapidly in food 2,450 million times a second. This vibration provides friction that creates heat within the food as the microwaves are able to penetrate.

The most important material in any food is water. It is the major constituent of the cellular material and many foods contain over 70% of their normal weight as water. It is the water in cellular organic matter that converts microwaves to heat energy with great efficiency and rapidly whereas other components such as starch, cellulose and protein are nowhere near as efficient. Microwave cooking can be done on paper dishes ,plastics, glass, chinaware and ceramic, because these materials transmit the waves through them without absorbing them like water. Aluminium foil can also be used. But brown paper bags, stainless steel vessels, metal twist ties, conventional thermometers cannot be used.

After cooking in a microwave oven washing dishes in much easier as food doesn’t stick to the sides of these vessels and the paper dishes can be thrown away cleaning the oven involves only wiping it dry with damp cloth.

Microwave cooking enhances the flavour of the food because it cooks quickly with little or no water and thus preserve the natural colour of fruits and vegetables. Leftover from previous days dinners can be heated in a minute and reused for breakfast or lunch. Precooking processed foods available in Indian markets like tikkas, kebabs, dal and chicken curry can be on table in minutes. It can be used for toasting nuts, for poaching eggs and for making idlis.

To make stale chapatis fresh and to make popcorn, microwave oven can be used and also used for roast oil free papads and vadams.

An essential difference between microwave and conventional cooking is that cooking is done by time rather than temperature in microwave cooking.

Advantages Of Microwave Cooking:

  • Microwave oven cooks many foods in about 1/4 th of the time necessary on a gas burner. There is no wastage of energy. It saves time in heating frozen foods. Thawing can be done in minutes or seconds.
  • Only the food is heated during cooking. The oven or the utensils does not get heated except under prolonged heating periods. Flavour and texture do not change when reheated in microwave oven.
  • Loss of nutrients is minimised, beta-carotene and vitamin c are better retained by microwave cooking compared to pressure cooking and saucepan cooking.
  • After cooking in a oven washing dishes is much easier as food doesn’t stick to the sides of the vessels. Foods get cooked uniformly, preserves the natural colour of vegetables and fruits.
  • No fat or low fat cooking can be made. Fat free cooking can be done for papads and vathals.

Disadvantages Of Microwave Cooking:

  • Due to short period of cooking, food does not become brown unless the oven has a browning unit.
  • It is impossible to make chapatis or tandoori roti in it. It cannot cook soft or hard boiled eggs. Deep frying necessary for puris, jalebis, pakoda, vadas cannot be done.
  • Some unwanted chemicals migrate to food from plastic cookware or food packages. Only microwave safe should be used. The short cooking time may not give a chance of blending conventional methods.
  • If the food is greater than 80mm the central portion is out of range of the microwave radiation will only heat by the normal slow process of conduction. It will be relatively uncooked while the exterior accessible to microwave is cooked in minutes or seconds.