Microwaves: Then And Now

Microwaves: Then And Now


One of our favorite kitchen appliances, even if you don’t think it is, is our microwaves. This revolutionary item has changed the way food is prepared, shortened cooking time for various items and overall reduced the time it takes us to prepare a meal. If you think this isn’t right, try not using your microwave for a week or so and see how long it takes for you to miss it enough to get it back out. Many people moving into a new house or apartment have experienced this when they haven’t yet purchased a microwave or haven’t unpacked their old one yet. Heating up the entire conventional oven for a single frozen chicken patty just seems excessive.

Microwaves cook our food using microwaves that are in the electromagnetic spectrum to cause polar molecules in the food to rotate which in turn causes heat. A common misconception about microwaves is that they cook food from the inside out. You can be sure of this if you have ever heated a frozen burrito in the microwave. The outside can be quite hot and yet you find a frozen center as you take a few bites.

How did this amazing appliance get added to the kitchen? Development is credited most often to Percy Spencer. The story goes that while testing radar technology a chocolate bar in his pocket melted, intrigued him and he began experimenting with other food items. The first microwave, called the Radarange, was sold in 1946! For a crazy expensive price and the Radarange wasn’t exactly compact. It wasn’t until 1967 that countertop microwaves were available. Still with a large price tag.

Since that time continued technological advances, developments, and research have created more compact and more safe microwaves to be used in homes. Despite their incredible usefulness for reheating previously cooked foods and heating frozen meals in a fraction of the time it would take to prepare the meal using a conventional oven and traditional cooking methods, microwaves are not typically used in professional kitchens. This is because they fail to produce some of the more intense flavors and caramelizing that can be created using a stovetop.

The microwave has definitely allowed for time saving and ease to continue to creep into our lives allowing us to focus on other activities. Take a moment to appreciate all that your microwave does for you next time you hit that ‘start’ button.

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