The history of the microwave oven is actually more interesting than one might imagine. Created as a sort of by-product of the invention of the magnetron during World War II, the microwave oven is one of those superbly useful inventions whose historical beginnings are almost unknown to the general public. The magnetron was a tube that was installed on British radar systems. This tube emitted microwaves that were designed to help track airplanes during the war. That microwaves cooked food was a completely accidental and incidental discovery.
A scientist named Percy Spencer was working for the Raytheon Corporation in 1946. His use of the magnetron to create microwaves melted a candy bar he had stuck into his pocket. The discovery of the melted candy bar led to the idea that microwaves could be used to cook food.
Mr. Spencer, a self-educated engineer with a curious mind then began experimenting with popcorn and eggs, noting that the microwaves rapidly increased the internal temperature of each food item. The egg actually exploded forcefully during the experiment, covering one of Mr. Spencer’s colleagues with half-cooked yolk.
Engineers at the Raytheon Corporation took Percy Spencer’s idea and began working on a way to make cooking with microwaves less dangerous to bystanders and more practical to everyone. Refining the giant magnetron tubes for industrial use was one of the first steps in creating a microwave oven for the masses. The first of these ovens were enormous at over 5 feet tall and weighing almost eight hundred pounds. Of course, this oven was not going to fit on the counter top of the average home, but the food industry was very interested in its practical applications.
That gigantic microwave oven was pressed into service drying tiles, tobacco, seeds and even match heads. Used for the home building industry, microwave ovens seemed to have endless applications. Drying leather, paper and cork were often accomplished with microwaves, and the ideas continued to flow with new uses for the magnetron microwaves. Of course, food preparation was a bit more regulated than industrial applications, so the microwave moved a little more slowly in the food world. Microwave ovens in India are not as popular as in western countries, but nowadays more and more people are getting aware of its advantages. If you are looking for some good microwave ovens in India, then check out reviews and user experience before buying a microwave.
The first commercial applications in the food industry were on a larger scale than today’s microwave ovens would allow. Drying coffee, shucking shellfish and defrosting meats were some of the first food uses for larger microwave ovens. In 1947, the Radarange was released by the Raytheon Corporation. This first commercially produced microwave oven cost almost $3000 and was the size of today’s refrigerator. A company called Tappan jumped onto the microwave oven bandwagon and re-sized the oven for more modest consumers. The Tappan Microwave Oven sold for around $1200 and was marketed for the kitchen of the average home. In the 1960s, with the acquisition of Amana Refrigeration, the Raytheon Corporation reworked the oven once again. This model was built to fit on a counter top and cost around $450.
Sales of microwave ovens continued to increase during the 1970s and eventually they even outsold standard ovens. The microwave oven itself has continued to increase in power and decrease in price, making it one of the most useful and convenient items in everyone’s kitchen.
Microwave Oven Buying Guide
Convenience features on traditional and convection microwaves open your kitchen to an array of mealtime possibilities. Today’s microwaves come in many different varieties, but they all unite around one common goal: to heat things quickly and efficiently. The basic, standard microwave is great for simple tasks like heating milk or ready meals, cooking jacket potatoes, or defrosting frozen food. If you are in the market for a new microwave oven, you’ve probably discovered that the range of models and options can be confusing. Some microwaves offer enough flexibility to prepare an entire meal as effortlessly as a bag of popcorn.
- It’s no wonder that I have a soft spot in my heart for this unglamorous, yet hard-working kitchen appliance.
- These offer the convenience of a microwave with the benefit of a grill.
- Should you buy a countertop or over-the range model?
- Use our guide to find the best microwave for your kitchen.
- This is one of the most important preliminary decisions you will make about your microwave purchase.
A grill microwave gives you the added benefit of being able to brown and crisp your food, which is not possible in a standard microwave. What is the best size and power capacity for your needs? Countertop microwaves are available in a variety of sizes and offer the same cooking power as installed units. Where you put your microwave can significantly impact its price, features, size, and ease of installation. They can be used independently as a stand-alone grill, as well as in conjunction with the microwave.
How does a microwave convection oven differ from a conventional microwave? The downside is that they take up valuable counter space and have no outdoor ventilation system. The biggest issue with the counter top variety is the counter space it requires. They come with metal racks so you can position the food close to the grill. Depending on the model you buy, a microwave oven can: Brown, roast, and grill foods like a conventional oven; prepare specific recipes using a pre-programmed touch keypad; cook entire meals without overheating your kitchen; automatically shut off when a sensor determines the food is done.
Some countertop microwaves come with trim kits that make it possible to build them into surrounding cabinetry or attach them to a nearby wall. If you have limited room, you may either want to look at the smaller countertop models available or consider another style of microwave altogether. Combination microwaves combines the benefits of a convection oven, which uses fanned hot air, and a grill. They’re fast and economical, halving the cooking time for many foods.