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Life without a microwave?

I'm pretty much over it. I'd really like to just chuck our microwave and have that much more counter space. I only really use it for reheating things and making baked potatoes. SO uses it for Hot Pockets (shudder) and popcorn.

Obviously, I can do my potatoes in the oven and things can be reheated on the stove/in the oven. He stop buying microwave popcorn and make it in the wok instead. And he shouldn't even be eating Hot Pockets at all, so there's that.

I am wondering if any of you folks don't have a microwave and how it impacts your kitchen life. Do you find yourself wishing for one, or do you not notice it's missing?

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  1. We have a microwave but I don't really think of ourselves as relying upon it a lot as I do not use it for "cooking" and we are not much on convenience foods. However, when I visit my mother, who does not have one, I realize the convenient functions that the mw serves that I would miss:

    Defrosting bread & rolls - We keep most of our bread products (bagels, tortillas, burger rolls, etc.) in the freezer and defrost them as needed. Of course, I could do this (a) on the counter, at room temperature, with sufficient forethought, or (b) in the oven, but the convenience (and energy savings, compared to a full-size oven) of the MW are nice.

    Melting Butter - You can melt butter in a small sauce pan on a stove-top burner but for easy cleanup & convenience, can't beat the mw.

    Defrosting other items, for immediate cooking - I also like the convenience of the MW to defrost items that I keep on hand for "pantry" type last-minute meal planning. These are items that, once defrosted, are incorporated into a dish that is being cooked, like raw shrimp, peas, smoked sausage, or a ham steak.

    Speeding up potato cooking -- Although a mw obviously is not essential to cooking potatoes, there are a number of dishes, typically prepared midweek when I'm trying to get food on the table within 45 minutes, where I start the potatoes in the mw -- e.g., baked potatoes, which I typically nuke for 10 minutes in the 'wave before finishing them in the oven, and chunked red potatoes on the grill, which I typically start in the 'wave.

    Taking the chill off items stored in the refrigerator: Using the Defrost setting for about 10-30 seconds,I typically nuke various items to bring them up to room temperature, including lemons & limes; butter; leftover red wine for drinking (not to serve to others but if I want a glass). Similarly, it's how I typically liquefy vinaigrette that's separated and congealed.

    1 Reply
    1. re: masha

      I recently spent 2 years living without a microwave, and for the most part I didn't really miss it. I think the biggest thing it affects is how much frozen food you can easily cook/consume.

      I mostly use a microwave now for things masha mentions: defrosting bread/rolls, melting butter, speeding up potato cooking. It's also good for heating up leftover food if I'm eating that at home (though I often do this at work anyway, where we have a microwave).

      But if you're the type of person who buys mostly fresh food, and you don't eat too many leftovers at home, you probably don't really need a microwave. I have one now, and I probably only use it about 3 times per month.

    2. I can't even tell you the last time I used my microwave, it's been years. It's out of the way in it's own space so I just let it sit there but if it was taking up counter space I would chuck it. Even when I did use it, it was for mostly just popcorn but I get much better popcorn by buying the type in the jar and popping it in a regular pot. I could never go back to microwave popcorn.

      1. I've moved into a flat by myself and while I had most of my kitchen items already, I didn't have a microwave. I thought I'd get one after the post-move budget had recovered, but so far I haven't really missed it. I mainly used the one in my last house for re-heating leftovers, something that can be achieved in the oven or on the hob for most dishes - finally discoved how good pizza is after warming in a frying pan instead of soggy from the microwave! It's more important to me for heating up food fast at work than it is having one at home.

        1. I've never had or used a microwave oven and never felt the need. That said, I've seen it used on some cooking shows that aren't dumbed down - and Jacques Pepin - and see that there some things other than reheating and such. Even so, I'm not tempted.

          What I use that counter space for is a big toaster oven by Krups. Use it every day instead of the big gas oven and wouldn't be without it. When it Krups out, and after six years it's still going strong, I'll replace it with a Breville, not a microwave.

          1 Reply
          1. re: John Francis

            What John said - I have never owned a microwave and I love a good toaster oven.

          2. I use the MW is to reheat thick, starchy foods like mashed potatoes, refried beans etc. I would miss this handy feature.

            1. I have one that almost never works. It usually trips the GFI. Now, I generally reheat things in a cast iron pan in the oven. I don't miss it enough to want another, although I still try to get it to work now and then. Sometimes it does.

              3 Replies
              1. re: GH1618

                Souds like you need a bigger feed line , and breaker to the MW.

                1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                  No, it's the GFI, not the regular breaker. Fumes cause an internal short somewhere.

                  1. re: GH1618

                    Sounds like the GFCI is doing is job then. Somewhere you have a short developing, probably due to high moisture/steam.

              2. I have one and keep it for a single purpose - drunken snacking. It's safer than using open flames. Otherwise, microwaves are the worst way to heat/cook food that I know of.

                1 Reply
                1. re: MGZ

                  HA HA HA I love it. Drunken snacking. We have not had one in 20 years and don't miss it. I use the one at work because there is no oven.

                2. It is doable. We still have our microwave but it is not in the kitchen but in the adjacent room, placed above our stacked washer/dryer unit. It is relatively inaccessible and it used only for one thing, to reheat rice - I've yet to find a good way to reheat rice, other than the use of the microwave.

                  Two things I noticed that really helps when not relying on a microwave; (1) a toaster oven, something like a Breville that allows for multi-functions. (2) As odd as it may sound, having small pots or pans that just fit the amount of leftovers really helps. You don't end up going - ugh, I have to wash this big "xyz" just for this measly leftovers? Or better yet, get oven safe foodsavers!

                  Going back to the toaster oven, along with it, get a solid baking tray that won't warp and tinfoils on hand, that should solve a lot of the "man-snack" issues. That's my take on the no microwave thing, for what it's worth. Goodluck!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: goodthyme

                    Definitely having small pots/pans helps for reheating.

                    Also, If I'm making a sauce for pasta, I'll make a large serving of the sauce to use for leftovers but only a single serving of the pasta. Then I am able to reheat the sauce, and then just cook a fresh single serving of pasta.

                    I haven't had a microwave for over 4 years now, and over time I've just learned to to adapt and adjust how I have leftovers.

                    1. re: cresyd

                      No question you can substitute a small pot & a cooktop for many of the functions of the mw but, for many purposes, using the mw is more convenient and saves on dirty dishes too. For example, for any dish that requires multiple liquids, including melted butter, I typically melt the butter in a glass 1-cup measure, and then use that same measuring cup for the other liquids. Or, if multiple liquids are to be combined, I may use a 2-cup liquid measuring cup to melt the butter, and then add the other liquids into that cup for mixing. And, as to reheating leftovers, since I do not typically eat directly from a pot, that entails an additional dirty dish, compared to just reheating in a bowl or plate.

                  2. My microwave is very important to me for many of the functions already stated: defrosting, heating up leftovers quickly, melting butter. I also use it to cook corn, parbake potatoes and other vegetables before sticking in the oven.

                    I work full time, have the normal crazy schedule that goes with having a kid involved in activities and sports as well as my own volunteer gigs, so in order to get a real meal on the table, the microwave is invaluable to speed up the process.

                    Interestingly, now that I think about it, we really don't use it for heating up microwave meals or prepackaged items. Occasionally microwave popcorn, though. (And yes, I know it's bad for us but we do it maybe 3 x a year.)

                    1. I have one, and use it for reheating, taking off the chill, and defrosting mostly. I also use it as a bread box, so it does double duty.

                      1. I have a combo - toaster, microwave, oven and broiler all in one. I use the microwave function to nuke my Oatmeal in the morning, that's about it for that. The oven function does get used a lot.
                        Now I used to have a really great combination microwave and regular oven for many years, until it finally broke - It let you use microwave and baking simultaneously, now that was great.
                        You could bake potatoes in about the third of time, shorten any baking time. Picture microwave and browning in one step. Unfortunately I was not able to find another one like that, so I made due with the above unit.

                        1. We lived without one for months (maybe a year) when our built in one broke. Eventually my husband insisted on replacing it and I know it doesn't get used more than once a month, maybe less, to heating my son's favorite mixed veggies.

                          We had the design completed for a kitchen remodel at our weekend cottage and did not include a spot for a microwave.

                          1. Perhaps I'm in the minority (for this topic, at least) but we use ours daily. It's built into a cabinet so the counter space isn't an issue.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: ferret

                              Almost daily for us too. When our last mw broke down, we bought a new one right away. Use it for re-heating, thawing, softening butter. Mr S uses it most days to re-heat his coffee.

                              And I would be lost without the mw at my office. I have re-heatable leftovers for lunch about 4 out 5 days.

                              1. re: ferret

                                Daily for me too. From early morning when I thaw bagels or bread to pack three lunches to dinner when I am often using to thaw meat or warm up rice/beans/etc. from the fridge.

                                I use the one at work to warm up soup or other leftovers for lunch.

                                1. re: tcamp

                                  Mine gets used daily as well. Every morning I heat up the elderly cat's canned cat food because she won't eat it cold from the frig. We drink many cups of herbal tea every day, also made in the microwave. I cook vegetables and bacon in it. I put bread in it to rise. I stash anything that's marinating in it.

                                  I'm not a huge microwave fan but I have a small kitchen and small range with one of the four burners not working. Sometimes I need that extra cooking power.

                              2. It seems like life will go on without it! I was waiting for our old one to die, but then my SO's uncle asked if we needed any of the appliances they were getting rid of during a remodel, and here comes another (BIGGER!) one.

                                We do have a toaster oven, but it's not a nice one. It's a scary Black & Decker one. I'm thinking about chucking that, too, and just getting a regular toaster!

                                I might take the microwave out to the laundry room and see how we fare without it for a few weeks. I have the feeling that someone is going to cry and cry until it comes back in, but it's taking up one third of my counter space. Something must be done!

                                I appreciate all of the feedback.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Kontxesi

                                  Buy a convection oven/microwave. Same space, and it does roasts in 25% of the time of the normal oven!
                                  It also bakes fabulous pies, and in general is more versatile than any other appliance I've seen.

                                  I'd ditch a toaster before I'd ditch my microwave. I've made tea thrice today, so there's that.

                                  1. re: Chowrin

                                    plus one :) for the MW/convection. Ours is rather huge but is on a big shelving unit so not taking up space on the counter. Just last night I was doing a rack of pork at one temp in the regular oven and did the polenta in the MW/convection.

                                    We use our daily if for nothing more than heating up our coffee mugs or warming plates. I can reheat a rare steak in it and keep it rare --- 5 or 7 seconds at a time. I do green peas in it. Pass through a strainer, back in to the original bowl, season and serve. Saves a pot. Et cetera :)

                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                      sounds like convection/microwave is what I need. Then DH can still pop his microwave popcorn, and I can use the convection oven for heating up a plate of food.

                                      Which convection/microwave is recomended?

                                      1. re: dixiegal

                                        I love my Sharp Convection Oven. But throw a post up on cookware, and let everyone chime in!

                                  2. I will bet that if you search around CH, you'll find a thread covering the myriad practical and imaginative uses of a microwave. Stuff you might never have thought of. If not here, you might just poke around a bit online and see what you find. I was reading one of Harold McGee's books and he actually spent a fair amount of time on microwaves. It is a great technology that, based upon what I read there, seems quite under-utilized and not very well understood. I'm guessing the microwave is something that most people (myself included) have never taken the time to actually learn how to use to its fullest effect. Hell, power-level settings alone introduce a huge amount of versatility to the thing.

                                    1. I could certainly do without one ... but certainly would not choose to do so voluntarily.

                                      Without a microwave my life would be severely more inconvenient.

                                      I can defrost, cook/steam veggies, temper chocolate, reheat soup and leftovers, etc.

                                      And to top it off, it is significantly more energy efficient to do most of those things with a microwave than to use a stove or oven.

                                      Oh, and it's great for disinfecting dish pads and sponges.

                                      1. I remember when microwaves for the home were the size of a compact car and cost $700. My father just got a new microwave installed over his stove for $210 including tax.

                                        We use our microwave daily. I heat up water for coffee in the morning and use it to cook vegetables several times a week. We use it to defrost frozen bread and to heat up tortillas. A few years ago our microwave broke and we did not replace it right away, sort of an experiment. Sure, most of the stuff we use the microwave for could be done on the stovetop or oven (we don't have a toaster oven but I'm on the lookout for a Breville Smart Oven) but the microwave is faster and the cooking/reheating vessels used in the microwave all go into the dishwasher unlike the pots and pans.

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: John E.

                                          over the stove ones are a horrid idea.

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              None, bar none (well, up to 800 dollars or so, at least), are built to withstand the heat of a cooking stove below them.

                                              Which means they'll inevitably break, and before the electronics ought to wear out.

                                              1. re: Chowrin

                                                We've been using over-the-stove microwaves for a long time and never had a problem. I've never even heard of this problem. Can you provide a link to where this info might be hiding?

                                                1. re: Chowrin

                                                  What is the maximum temperature of steam? Or, what is the maximum temperature of the air rising above a stove. If the air rising from a stove-top is hot enough to damage a microwave, surely there would be news reports of thousands of people being injured, maimed, and killed by this problem you suggest occurs.

                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                    It's damaging the electronics, silly.
                                                    Damaged electronics stop working, and they're good at building in decent failsafes.

                                                    The temperature of hot oil is well above the boiling point of water. And with those "vent and microwave" things, you're deliberately funneling it close to the microwave.

                                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                                      Ok, where are the stories about microwaves with damaged electronics because of their location above the stove? We have had a microwave over the stove for at least 20 years in three different houses. Most of the people I know have microwaves over their stoves. I have never heard of their microwaves being damaged because of the location over the stove. How does the boiling oil reach the microwave? if that is happening, then whoever is in that kitchen should stop using the stove and probably the microwave as well.

                                              2. re: Chowrin

                                                A large capacity exhaust hood over the stove is ideal. However, if that is not available, I see nothing wrong with a microwave over a range in a home kitchen.

                                                1. re: John E.

                                                  Exhaust hood is not necessary if you have an electric stove.

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    That's a generalization with which I do not entirely agree.

                                            2. It depends on how you live. Being single about half my meals are leftovers. I'm also self employed and don't have a lot of leisure time. Sometimes I know there are better ways to reheat my food, that would be better for the texture, etc. But a microwave makes it much easier to deal with, and that keeps me eating home cooked food and away from the drive thru or pizza delivery. Better for my budget, better for my waistline, better for my tastebuds. I know other people who have microwaves that they never ever use. One friend keeps it in the garage, takes it out from Thanksgiving to Christmas when doing a lot of cooking.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                If you think you should get rid of it, then put it out of the way and see how often you go out to the garage or down to the basement to use it, or how often you miss having it. But don't make a decision after 2 days, more like 2-3 months.

                                              2. If the only thing a microwave did was reheat, I'd consider it worthwhile. Besides, our current home came with one.

                                                1. I threw mine out years ago. I thought I'd miss it for cold pizza, but it turns out I like reheating pizza in the oven a lot more. It takes longer, but it's become a delicious thing in its own right that I could never get from a microwave.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: Jay F

                                                    I have never reheated pizza in the MW. I preheat the oven with the pizza stone in there, about 350 for about 10-15 minutes. Sometimes it's even better that way than the first time through if the crust wasn't quite perfect.

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      Agreed. Reheating pizza in the microwave produces the same soggy mess that comes with delivery pizza that's sealed in the zippered bag. That's another thing I NEVER eat.

                                                      1. re: grampart

                                                        We have a pretty decent pizza place near us. Bob will order the pizza and I start the oven and put the stone in. When he gets back from picking it up, we'll take a couple of pieces each, put on the stone and heat/cook more.

                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                          That's what we do, but with delivery. By the time the delivery guy arrives, the stone is nice and hot. A few minutes in the oven and the pizza's nice and crisp on the bottom.

                                                  2. I make the fastest grilled ham and cheese by nuking the fillings while skillet toasting the bread. In general, a microwave will melt cheese inside an omelet, on a sandwich, or as a topping better and faster than any other way in a home kitchen. I use mine to boil water for iced tea, faster than a kettle.
                                                    If you've never had popcorn from a Presto Power Popper w/Orville Redenbacher's corn, you have never had great microwave popcorn. 10 calories a cup and no chemicals!
                                                    I am currently converting all of my candy recipes after learning to make awesome peanut brittle in 10 minutes from start to finish. Pecan pralines came out great, too.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: TheKitchenBitch

                                                      you don't extract much peanut oil that way, do you?

                                                    2. In thinking about this, some posters dismiss this appliance cause they only use it for reheating leftovers. But to me that's a real plus. Not because of the speed but because I can keep things from overcooking and/or drying out.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        Same here. I rely a lot on leftovers and reheating them in the oven tends to dry them out. Other than that though, I could probably do without the microwave altogether, although mine is built in above the stove so I'm stuck with it. Other than reheating, I only use it for melting chocolate and sometimes butter if I don't want to do it on the stovetop. Oh and sometimes I'll pop my empty plates in there for about 30 seconds to warm them up before putting food on them :)

                                                        1. re: juliejulez

                                                          I'm curious, how do you successfully melt chocolate in the microwave? I've tried, and big-time failed, many times. Now I use a cheapie saucepan with glass bowl inset - much better.

                                                          My micro is above the stove too so it is right there in our faces, asking to be used.

                                                          1. re: tcamp

                                                            Take 2/3 of the chocolate and heat in microwave on low heat for 1:30 to 2 minutes

                                                            Take out and stir

                                                            Then slowly incorporate the remaining 1/3 of the chocolate in small chunks until completely incorporated and melted. Reheat in microwave for 10 second intervals at low beat as necessary.

                                                      2. To the OP, get rid of it and have the counter space. Maybe put it in a back room, garage, or office for the few times you or a guest wants it. I nearly never use mine. Is more for guests than myself.

                                                        My actions come from my 50-year nurse grandma who lived to be 97 who would not knowingly eat out of a microwave. Or be around one in use. Her mom lived to be 93, could have made it longer but quit taking her medications and lost the desire to live after her husband passed. Grandma said microwaves 'overheat' food especially oils and fats to become not healthy. Most of us in the family thought she was a little goofy at the time.

                                                        Later with more research I realized oils heated beyond their smoke points may become polymers (plastic) which medical pros say could be cancerous. Especially bad if vegi oils get hot enough to smoke. For example, "Rapeseed oil smoke causes lung cancer" Amal Kumar Maj. The Wall Street Journal June 7, 1995, pB6 (W) pB6 (E) col 1(11 col in). Food for thought. And it is not just Canola (rape seed), is also true for most unsaturated fat type vegetable oils.

                                                        And we all know plastics melt in microwaves, leach chemicals, and become part of food. So if go there, and try not to, I only microwave in or on glass.

                                                        Internet searches produce all kinds of info, but it is hard to know what to believe. Wish more would be confirmed from reliable sources, experiments, and studies. But our government organizations and politicians are bought by big companies and industries so no help. And our doctors and medical professionals are mostly too busy moving expensive drugs for pharmaceutical companies as they count their money so are no help. Money drives this world not facts or health. I find what makes it into the public eye is always interesting, but not well backed up with facts. It is very hard for the average person to take the time to know what to believe. Good research takes time. As an example, this link right at the top says, "One aim of my website is to present views which do not necessarily conform to the views of the establishment." Then goes on to share interesting rumors with good intention: http://www.shirleys-wellness-cafe.com...

                                                        Until have better facts I personally choose to error on the side of caution (and listen to my grandma). I think of her long-life fear of microwaves often. Especially whenever I step up to a microwave usually for personal 'convenience' when out, at work, or traveling. My last most common use (many years back) was heating a double dose of tea water (24oz) in my microwave and it took three minutes and fifty seconds. Now on the stove in a pan on Hi it takes about five minutes. Once gave my microwave up also find the oven re-heats many things closer to fresh without changing food texture - especially pizza.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: smaki

                                                          The only time microwaves heat food too hot is when they are used improperly. The only real food (I'm not addressing processed food, that's another category) that should be cooked on high is food with a high water content. Reheating leftovers that are not liquid should not be done on high otherwise they do get hotspots and spots that get a wierd texture. Of course, most people I know don't really seem to know how to use the settings on a microwave, they just blast everything on high.

                                                        2. Every morning for 30 seconds on high: hot milk for my coffee. Otherwise, not much.

                                                          1. Mine died a few years ago, and it hasn't been replaced. While it was convenient for some reheating, I really only miss it for three things - melting butter and chocolate, and cooking corn on the cob in its husk - and of those, the corn is the biggie.

                                                            Butter and chocolate are as easy, and nearly as quick, on the stove but if I was making something where either (or both together) were first in the bowl it saved dirtying a pot (and trying to scrape every drop out).

                                                            But there is no faster, simpler, or more efficient way to cook corn on the cob perfectly than zapping it with husk and silk still intact in my experience.

                                                            As for pizza, I reheat slices in a skillet on the stove, with lid on. Crisp crust, melty cheese and hot toppings in about the same time it would take to make it gloppy in a microwave.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                              I understsnd the ease with which corn is steamed in the microwave, although I find it much easier to husk and desilk the corn before cooking when it isn't hot enough to make it uncomfortable to clean the corn. We then wrap the cob of corn in waxed paper. Asparagus is steamed in the microwave pretty easy as well. (I confess that when we have corn on the cob it is usually cooked on the grill. My preference is actually to cut the kernals off the cob and cook them with sliced garlic and butter in a skillet on the stove.

                                                            2. I would miss the convenience of one if I didn't have one. 98% of the time, I do not use it. But the 2% of the time that I do, it's a glorified $100 kitchen timer (my fave function when I have a few things going on), defrost English muffins, bagels, etc. and soften up jar of curd (usually vanilla or coconut) to make it spreadable for said muffin/bagel while toasting, or heating a stack of tortillas in a damp paper towel when I have no desire to reheat a dozen one by one in a pan.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: LP808

                                                                ya know? i'd pay extra if it came with multiple timers... (with different chimes)

                                                              2. I've done five years without one. I'm shortly moving to a house where there is a wall cavity for provided but I'm thinking of using the space for cookbooks instead. They're really not essential.

                                                                1. I don't have one and I don't want one. I bought one when I was a student to heat frozen dinners - I hated it. It may have been the Lean Cuisine itself, but microwaved food tasted AWFUL.
                                                                  I love good flavor, and If I need a quick meal now, I would rather have some cheese and crackers than any microwaved stuff. For me it is about the quality of the food.
                                                                  Microwaved food tastes awful. I don't need it to heat water either. It does negatively affect the quality of the food. Take a bunch of plant seeds and make two groups. Water one with spring water, and the other group with microwaved water and compare how they grow. The microwaved water group growth was stunted. I don't need crap like that.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: laraffinee

                                                                    It was quite likely the Lean Cuisine. I keep forgetting how much I hate them and buy them for work now and again.... Blech.

                                                                      1. re: laraffinee

                                                                        "The microwaved water group was stunted."

                                                                        Naturally, there is no reference supporting this goofy claim.

                                                                        1. re: GH1618

                                                                          It's because of people like this that we call it an MRI...(nuclear magenetic resonance imaging. but god forbid we use the word nuclear!)

                                                                      2. My microwave function I only use to heat individually frozen rice portions. Aside from the my microwave is also a convection oven and steamer and toaster and who knows what else. I use its other functions often.

                                                                        1. i guess I am showing my age, but I remember very well life before a microwave. I was probably the last person in the world to get one. That was about 30 years ago. I too want to trash the microwave. My house was built long before microwaves, and there is not a good place for one. I have gone back to heating food on the stove and oven most of the time now. I forgot how much better food taste warmed up the old fashion way. Microwaves alter the taste and very much, the texture of food.
                                                                          DH uses it a lot for heating stuff, so I am stuck with it. I am thinking on getting a toaster oven or counter top convection oven to heat food at the office. To me, microwaves totally ruins, meat and bread. Liquids, are ok. Except they cool off too fast. All food heated in the microwave looses heat quickly.

                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                          1. re: dixiegal

                                                                            I didn't have one until the 1990s. Never saw the need for one. I was finally given one as a gift, and I never used it until delivery pizza became popular, and I would reheat the leftovers. I also used it for melting chocolate a couple of times, but found that to be kind of uneven, and went back to my old way of doing it.

                                                                            I moved to an apartment in whose kitchen I was not going to devote one inch of space to a microwave, and gave it away. I have never missed it. This thread is probably the first time I've thought about it since.

                                                                            It probably helps to know that I make practically everything fresh, and do not freeze much at all.

                                                                            1. re: dixiegal

                                                                              I've never heard anything about microwaved items losing heat faster. I've always thought my soup cooled down a little fast, but figured it was just the way of things. I'll have to research that one!

                                                                              1. re: Kontxesi

                                                                                Hi, Kontxesi: "...soup cooled down a little fast..."

                                                                                Well, liquids can cool faster, but it's because they're not heated all the way through to start with. The microwaves only penetrate a small distance into the food, so until your soup gets convection currents established (or is stirred), the center is not cooked directly by microwaves, but by the heated liquid surrounding it. This is why MWs aren't very good at reheating large volumes of cold liquids.


                                                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                  I understand the basic principles of microwave technology. But what it sounds like dixiegal is saying is that if I heated soup on the stove and soup in the microwave, and got them to the same overall temperature (which would mean stopping and stirring for the mw), that the microwaved soup would cool faster.

                                                                                  Am I misunderstanding? Because that makes no sense to me.

                                                                                  What WOULD make sense to me, is that I just eat my soup too slow! :p

                                                                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                    I rarely disagree with you Kaleo. Microwaves actually penetrate the food completely, which is why they work so fast, but they don't penetrate evenly, which is why newer microwaves all have turntables, it helps distribute the heat more evenly. You are correct that some portions of the food, whatever it is, gets heated by the food around it, which makes the overall temperature drop more quickly than if the food were heated evenly throughout.

                                                                                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                      Aloha, KM:

                                                                                      We can disagree, I guess. This from USDA:

                                                                                      "Although heat is produced directly in the food, microwave ovens do not cook food from the "inside out." When thick foods are cooked, the outer layers are heated and cooked primarily by microwaves while the inside is cooked mainly by the conduction of heat from the hot outer layers."

                                                                                      "Do microwaves cook food from the inside? No. Micro
                                                                                      waves penetrate the food to a depth of 1 to 1 1/2 inches. In thicker pieces of food, the microwaves don’t reach the center. That area would cook by conduction of heat from the outer areas of the food into the middle."


                                                                                      And this from smaki's linked source about MW'd foods cooling faster:

                                                                                      "Now, the thermalization process takes some time, typically more time than the food actually spends in the microwave oven. So when you take it out, it's unevenly heated: some of the molecules still have more energy than others. The temperature does even out after some time, but that means that the energy from the absorbers has to be shared out among all the molecules in the food (and its container), so they're not as hot as they were when they came out of the oven. This is the cooling process you've noticed."

                                                                                      Like I said before, the "cooling faster" happens because the food (as a whole) never fully comes up to temperature--it's busy heating itself, whereas in a pan, it's fully and homogenously heated. In effect, the food starts to cool before is reaches a state of heat equilibrium, and without more energy being put in, that thermalization process is stunted.


                                                                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                        I guess I have rarely if ever cooked much of anything in the microwave thicker than 2-3 inches (allowing an inch to an inch and a half on both/all sides).

                                                                                        Thank you for for the education kahu!

                                                                                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                          Aloha, Brah:

                                                                                          'Ole Pilikia. As the proverb goes, not all knowlege is within *any* of our halaus--I have learned much from you, too.

                                                                                          FWIW, different grinds, different depth of MW penetration. Gets more complicated with different degrees of radiotranslucency (not gonna try that translation in Hawai'ian, Aikane) of what you put the grinds *in*.

                                                                                          Keep up the good posts. I like reading your stuff.


                                                                                  2. re: Kontxesi

                                                                                    Kontxesi, have not heard that either so did a quick search and found:


                                                                                    Seems is true. More research needed.

                                                                                    1. re: Kontxesi

                                                                                      >I've never heard anything about microwaved items losing heat faster<

                                                                                      LOL I don't know if it is official. Just my observations over the years. I just know that when I heat soup, chili or whatever on the stove or in the oven. It stays hot a lot longer, than the microwave. The taste is just better too.

                                                                                      1. re: dixiegal

                                                                                        you wrap food in microwave, yes? you leave open on cooktop?
                                                                                        You heat one more than the other.

                                                                                        as for me, a hot bowl is a happy bowl.

                                                                                  3. I haven't had one for quite a while. 5-6 years.. or more. geez I can't remember.

                                                                                    It would be handy for reheating certain things - but that doesn't really seem a good enough reason to buy one.

                                                                                    I suppose you need to plan more if you use frozen meat.

                                                                                    1. Hi, Kontxesi:

                                                                                      Oh, I still have one at each house, but I only use them for:

                                                                                      1. Reheating single cups of coffee and tea;
                                                                                      2. Emergency butter softening; and
                                                                                      3. Global emergency force thawing.

                                                                                      Wahine still uses them occasionally for "steamed" vegetables. On all our MW ovens, 1:23 on High seems to do an OK job with 2-person servings.


                                                                                      1. Kontxesi...I don't own a microwave, and, I have no plans to get one. Not only to save counter space, but, I find I just don't need one. However, I occasionally use the one at my office, to heat up soup for lunch.
                                                                                        I find it frustrating that several TJ packaged meals only have directions for the microwave, and not traditional oven/stovetop methods. That's when I realize what a minority I'm in.
                                                                                        All that said, if I need to eat fast, I will cook an egg. Otherwise, nothing beats baking a potato in the oven and getting that crispy skin and fluffy interior!

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: luvarugula

                                                                                          "Otherwise, nothing beats baking a potato in the oven and getting that crispy skin and fluffy interior!"

                                                                                          Ahhh, yes. The glory that is a properly baked potato. So simple, so often overlooked, so sad.

                                                                                          I've been working on a two temperature cook lately. It takes a while, but the results are worth it. I am always looking for the thoughts of other 'hounds who appreciate the perfect baked russet.

                                                                                          1. re: luvarugula

                                                                                            You are mostly correct about the potatoes. 'Baked' potatoes in a microwave are actually steamed potatoes. However, occasionally, we'll be in a pinch timewise, and only cooking a few baked potatoes and we will cook the potatoes in the microwave for a few minutes to give them a head start and then finish in the oven. It actually works quite well.

                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                              roasted potatoes in a convection oven are fab.

                                                                                          2. I make food and freeze it in Pyrex bowls. I don't really use the microwave to COOK anything, but it quickly defrosts chili and chicken soup. Occasionally I heat up a frozen dinner or a low-calorie spring roll in it. I also use it for a quick cup of tea. I'm not sacrificing that convenience for ANYTHING.

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Heatherb

                                                                                              <I also use it for a quick cup of tea. I'm not sacrificing that convenience for ANYTHING.>

                                                                                              Isn't that something. I've always found microwaved water strange. I can't say why, other than that it has something to do with the bubbling.

                                                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                Water brought up to 212 degrees in the microwave often does not bubble. It may burst into steam when jostled and can cause severe burns. I use the microwave to heat water to make coffee using a Melitta manual drip system. I heat the water until it is hot enough because I know how much water for how long in our microwave to reach about 204 degrees. If it goes past that and is bubbling I simply wait maybe 30 seconds before pouring the water over the coffee grounds.

                                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                                  Thanks, John.

                                                                                                  Even when I had a microwave, I was more comfortable using a kettle to boil water.

                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                    I stick the tea bag in the cup after it's been "boiled" in the microwave and let it steep there. No jostling. By the time I pull it out of the microwave it is a comfortable temperature.

                                                                                              2. For just heating or reheating food, I usually use a double boiler. It takes a few minutes longer than a microwave, but the food usually has a better consistency.

                                                                                                1. we bought one, it blew the fuse-and now it sits useless-we dry wine glasses on top of it.
                                                                                                  Sometimes it would be really useful-oatmeal in the a.m., a quick reheat of something but generally we dont miss it.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: cookfood

                                                                                                    You might want to check your home wiring. If your home has fuses, it might not be adequate for all of the electricity needs you have. A typical microwave draws about 12 to 14 amps. Homes constructed in recent (20?) years usually have a dedicated outlet in the cupboard above the stove to use for the microwave. If your home does not have that, you should still be able to operate your microwave as long as the coffee pot, toaster, etc. are not operating at the same time. The refrigerator, stove, and lights are usually all on their own circuits. The dishwasher and disposal are usually both plugged in to the kitchen circuit. The rest of the small appliances are usually on the same circuit as the dishwasher and disposal, but they don't draw too much current. (Plus we usually run the dishwasher in the evening when everything else is not running.)

                                                                                                    We have a spare, small microwave in the basement. One of the kids plugged it in to make popcorn downstairs. The dehumidifier kicked in while the microwave was running, and well, there goes the circuit breaker.

                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                      small 40yo apartment. the fridge, microwave, toaster, rice pot are all on the same outlet. any two are fine. heaven help me if ive got the rice cooker and toaster at work when the fridge kicks on . . .

                                                                                                  2. I rely a lot on my microwave. I am sure I can live without it as long as I have a stove. The stove would require me to keep on eye on while I heat things up though.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: Cheffer12

                                                                                                      On a stove with low heat no need to watch a pan as close. Just takes more time. A pan with a lid on the electric stove or oven is great to re-heat left overs at a temp below where can burn. While is always good to watch close, especially on an unfamiliar stove.

                                                                                                      Someone recently gave up their microwave and added a traeger in a move. Notice smokes all kinds of meats on the weekend low-and-slow to enjoy all week with salads. Says does not miss microwave so far. Does not even use his stove that much. Has been about a month, after more time without will see if has tips to share (grew up in a home with two).