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What can a Commercial Microwave Oven do and is it Energy Efficient?

Unlike a conventional cooker it can be used to defrost, heat and prime cook individual to gastronorm quantities from a frozen, chilled or ambient state.
It allows the caterer to give consistent and speedy service, add to the menu, reduce waste and improve profits.
The microwave energy is concentrated on the food during the cooking time only and this is reflected in the reduced fuel cost.

Key factors when buying a Commercial Oven?
  • Output
    Commercial models usually range from 800 - 2,600 watts. The higher the output the quicker the heating time. For example, a snack item that takes 2 minutes to heat in an 800 watt model will take 1 minute in a 1,600 watt oven and between 30 and 40 seconds in a more powerful one.

  • Controls
    Manufacturers use the KIS principle of "Keeping It Simple". Controls meet with most needs, are robust, simple to identify and use.

How do microwaves heat food?
  As food contains moisture the microwave energy is attracted to it and causes the food molecules to agitate at a very fast rate. This creates heat and food is cooked, thawed or reheated. Microwave energy will penetrate up to 35 - 50mm depending upon its density.

What is meant by the Dielectric Properties?

The make up of food or a substance determines how much microwave energy is absorbed, transmitted, reflected and concentrated by it and is called the 'dielectric properties'.

Described as the 'loss factor' and 'dielectric constants' this can be calculated for each food substance.

A high loss substance such as water and most liquid foods, means that it is a very good absorber of microwave energy.

A low loss substance such as foods containing ice and many container materials are poor absorbers of microwave energy.

The biggest influence on the even heating of food in a microwave cooker is the food, container shape and material.

For this reason, it is important to:

  • Use the right shaped container

  • Use the correct container material

  • Arrange the food correctly

  • Ensure the food is manipulated wherever possible

Which containers should be used?
  Containers should be of a non-porous material, must not warp or melt and allow the microwave energy to be transmitted to the food. Round or regular shaped containers are generally more suitable as food in those with acute corners tend to overheat and dry out in the corners and edges before it is evenly cooked. Coverings such as microwave cling film are used where there is a need to retain moisture.

What happens to other materials?
  Microwave energy is reflected by metal and other metallic material and as a result it cannot pass through them. However, the energy can pass through other materials such as glass, china, paper and most plastics.

Why should food be manipulated?

Like conventional cooking, food should be manipulated to contribute to even cooking and heating. Depending upon the food it should be stirred, turned or re-arranged during the process. With some foods, a standing time is required to complete the cooking process by conduction.

Why should food be pricked?

Foods which have a skin or membrane should be pricked to allow the build up of steam to escape. If this is not done then the food could burst or 'explode' either in the appliance or when removed. Examples of such foods include egg yolks and whites, canned pototoes, potatoes in their skins, tomatoes, apples, kidney and liver.

Is microwaved food healthier?

It depends on the conventional method used but as little or no water or fat is used in the microwave and food cooks very quickly, microwave food is able to retain more vitamins and fat content can be reduced or eliminated.

Why a Commercial Model when Domestic Models are so much cheaper?
    • Commercial Models can be in operation all day for hours on end. They are designed and constructed to withstand efficient and continuous use.
    • Domestic Models are designed to be used a few times a day for homely needs.

    • Commercial Models usually have service and support included in the warranty with a 24/48 hour call out. Spare parts are readily available.
    • Domestic Models have a warranty which does not rate an emergency service and may well be invalid if the model is in a catering environment.

    • Commercial Suppliers know how important it is to meet the demands of the customer and to ensure that they do not lose time, custom or profit due to the breakdown of the appliance.
    • Domestic Users are only inconvenienced by the appliance being out of commission thus, the supplier is not under any pressure to give an immediate response.

    • Commercial Models are manufactured specifically for the rigours of the catering industry to give a long and continuous service.
    • Domestic Models are manufactured for home use and not designed for catering needs.

    • Commercial Suppliers will give free advice and guidance as to the best model to suit the business.
    • Domestic Suppliers may be less informed as to the needs of the caterer.

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