How do microwave ovens cook?


Microwaves are defined as electromagnetic waves in a given frequency range; generally between 300 MHz and 3 GHz. In the case of microwave ovens, the frequency of microwaves is around 2.45 GHz but the question I ask myself is: How do microwave ovens cook?

Microwave ovens were an invention of those that qualify as a chance find, derived from the invention of radar that occurred in 1940. Five years later, the engineer Percy Spencer, was working on the construction of a magnetron when he noticed that a chocolate bar he was carrying in the pocket had completely melted. The magnetron, by the way, is the device at the center of the radar that transforms electricity into microwaves.

He quickly tried applying it to cooking food and his first experiment with a metal box was popcorn.

You have to know that microwaves do not cook food directly, but they heat the water that the food has inside. That frequency of 2.45 GHz is the precise one to excite the water molecules. And that hot water is actually responsible for cooking the food.

Virtually all foods contain water activity. Although there are some such as pasta, legumes or rice that do not, so they cannot be cooked directly due to the low water activity.

Since cooking occurs by stimulation of water molecules, microwave cooking is from outside to inside. In other words, the water is warming from the most superficial layers to the deepest. As in conventional ovens.

It should be known that if the stimulation of the water molecules is very strong, the change of state occurs and the water transforms into steam, so that the surface layers dry out, the interior may be juicy. These data should help us understand how to cook with them. Anyway, each material or food with which we are working behaves differently depending on its thermal conductivity.

One way to avoid 'burns or dry areas' is to cover the food, in this way we avoid that the waves affect directly what we are going to cook and slow down the process of change of state. Or, adding some type of fat or oil, since fats and oils are able to absorb microwaves much better because they have a much higher vaporization temperature.

It will have happened to all of you that many times the interior is cooked before the exterior as it can happen with roasted potatoes, right? This is because potatoes are drier on the outside than on the inside, as there is more water inside, more stimulation and therefore more cooking.

And so far these small notes about cooking in microwave ovens that I hope will be useful to you.

Recipes Direct to the Palate with Microwaves

  • Microwave black cake
  • Microwave lemon curd
  • Microwave Potatoes
  • Cream cheese biscuits
  • Sole with microwaved leeks

Photo | Campuspartycolombia
Directly to the Palate | Tips for cooking poultry in the microwave
Directly to the Palate | Types of microwave for my kitchen

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