Understanding Microwave Wattage

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 18,730
    Microwave expert Sue Snider discusses how to understand microwave wattage.

    Sue Snider: Hello, I am Sue Snider, University of Delaware, department of Animal and Food Sciences. We are going to be talking about preparing foods in the microwave and we are going to be talking about the wattage of microwave ovens. You may say, Well, why is that so important? The reason is that wattage is related to the amount of energy produced so the higher the wattage of the oven, the faster the food cooks because more energy is produced. Typically, microwave ovens range from less than 500 watts to up to a 1000. Recipes and cooking directions on food products are usually designated for ovens with wattages between 600 and 700 watts. Now you may be thinking I dont know how -- what wattage my oven is. Well, there is three ways that you can tell. First, you can consult the owners manual to see if the wattage is listed, the second, is the wattage should be listed on the back of the microwave so you can turn the microwave and look for the wattage. Now if your microwave is like mine which is installed above the range, thats not practical. So another way that you can actually test it is to cook, heat one cup of water in a glass measuring container with no cover. If it takes over four minutes for the water to boil, this means that your microwave is less than 500 watts, if it takes 3-4 minutes it's between 500 and 600 watts and if it takes three minutes or less its 600 to 700 watts. So thats a very quick way to determine the wattage of your microwave oven. Now some microwave ovens have power settings and what a power setting does is basically cooks the product for a certain period of time, stops the microwave and then resets and restarts the microwave at a given time interval. The importance of this power setting is that it slows down the cooking process so that usually, defrosting or cooking something large will be cooked on a power setting of 50, so that the microwave cycles on and off and this permits the very slow heating of the food product so that you either are defrosting it slowly or you are cooking the interior slowly without the outside of the product becoming overheated. We have talked about the importance of microwave wattage and you knowing what that wattage is because that will effect the cooking time. We have also talked about the importance of different power settings. Next we are going to talk about safe operating of your microwave oven.