MICROWAVE OVENS Microwave ovens cook, thaw and re-heat food quickly. Microwaves are high frequency electronic waves, similar to radio waves. They penetrate the food, causing the molecules to vibrate, and generating heat to a depth of 4 cm (1 ½ in) all round. Thereafter, heat is carried through the food by conduction, as in conventional cookers.
Microwave ovens are widely used commercially and are becoming popular for domestic use. They may be best used to complement your freezer, to thaw and reheat home-produced, deep frozen food. Because they operate on a totally different basis from conventional cookers, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions faithfully.
Place the food in an earthenware, china or throwaway cardboard container. Don’t use a metallic dish: the microwaves won’t penetrate it. The food will heat very quickly, but it won’t brown. When hot, put it under a conventional grill unless you have an oven supplied with a purpose-built ceramic browning dish.
FOOD PROCESSERS Several models are available with different attachments and blades, such as a double-bladed chopping knife, mixing blade, slicing, shredding disc and grating disc. Basically all can chop, slice, mince, grate, puree or knead food in just a few seconds.
However, they cannot replace an electric mixer for aerating cake mixtures and meringues. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for each different model.
Ensure the correct attachment is fitted, avoid overloading, and use the feed tube attachment for adding liquids.
PRESSURE COOKERS This is an economical method of cooking at high pressure and temperature, saving time, fuel and nutritional value. When using a pressure cooker, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for quantities of food, liquid and timing. The amount of liquid used depends on the length of the cooking time.
The cooker is first brought to pressure by boiling the liquid, with the vent pipe open. When there is a steady flow of steam, the correct pressure weight is added. A loud hissing indicates that the pressure has been reached and that timing for cooking can start.
Reduce pressure first by running under cold water, or gradually, at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before opening. Every pressure cooker must be fitted with a safety device which automatically acts if the pressure control becomes blocked.
Slow cookers are casseroles, usually earthenware, which heat and cook food very gently, over six—seven hours, by means of an enclosed electrical element. They have two settings, low, which heats to about 82°C (175°F); and high, which reaches 98°C (200°F) after some six hours. Even the highest setting does not reach the lowest heat in an oven.