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Two-level cooking in microwaves

I'm researching "two-level cooking" (aka bi-level cooking) microwaves... Does anyone already have one? If so, am I understanding this correctly -- you can leave the metal rack in them when microwaving, so that you can microwave two things at once, such as two plates of food, one over the other.... ? Is that right? (The metal racks seem to be specially tuned to the microwaves in that oven, or vice versa.)

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  1. If the microwave includes a metal rack, yes the rack is left in. The only time I remove the rack is if I'm nuking something that is tall and the rack gets in the way.

    Yes you can use the rack to hold two plates of food, one over the other. I try to stagger them - one on the left on the rack, the other on the floor of the oven on the right. There is some explanation for the following, but I find that nuking two plates of food can often take more time than dealing with each one separately (depends on what I'm cooking or warming). So I don't find the rack all that useful, and take it out of the oven more often than I actually use it.

    5 Replies
    1. re: janniecooks

      Thanks Jannie -- can I ask what make and model of microwave you have? I'm finding that manufacturers really don't highlight this feature at all in their product descriptions, so it's very hard to search for! Thanks!

      1. re: rlinnington

        It's a GE Dual Wave II oven, about 25 years old. Still running great. They don't make 'em like they used to!

        1. re: janniecooks

          That's what I'm afraid of, Jannie -- my Panasonic that died was 27 years old, lol. So I looked around to see what was new in microwaves these days, found out about this two-level (aka bi-level) cooking feature and went, "I want that!". I'll have a look at GE's.

          1. re: rlinnington

            I've had the same experience as Jannie, the rack is functionally not that useful. I store mine somewhere....can't recall where that is right now.

            Of more importance to me is a large turntable, b/c I've found that placing food around the outer edge of the ring does a pretty good job of even heating. Look for one with a turntable on/off button. THAT'S a nice feature for large rectangular dishes that won't rotate a full 360º.

            1. re: DuffyH

              Our rack is in the storage drawer under the oven. Have never used it...not once. LoL

    2. Hi, rlinnington:

      I have a MW/convection/infrared oven with a metal rack that looks like a 3-legged cake stand. The turntable tray is metal, too.

      IMO, the rack is designed to do one of three things: (a) get more MW energy into the food from all reflected angles; (b) get more even convection cooking by allowing max air circulation; or (c) elevate what you're broiling closer to the infrared element.

      Since MWs penetrate foods only a short depth (3/4 to 1.5 inches), and the waves emanate from the roof, I'm not sure stacking things would be the best use.

      Aloha,
      Kaleo

      3 Replies
      1. re: kaleokahu

        Hi Kaleo,

        They've changed the technology a bit in the past few years -- on some Panasonic and Kitchenaid models, to name a few, the waves now come from the sides of the oven instead of the roof.

        There's a kitchenaid model with a second-tier rack whose waves come from the side -- but it's not what I can use, as it's one of those over the stove hood fan things.

        1. re: rlinnington

          Hi, rlinnington:

          Interesting. "From the sides" sounds to me like a less than ideal configuration (I'm visualizing a tray of asparagus, cooking from the ends in), but they're the pros. I suppose it might mitigate some effects of cookware radio-opacity.

          Is this orientation for the *purpose* of allowing stacked cooking? And do they also put the magnetic "stirrers" in the walls?

          Thanks for the education.

          Aloha,
          Kaleo

          1. re: kaleokahu

            That, I don't know Kaleo, sorry. It's mentioned a lot in the Panasonic microwave product descriptions, is all that I know of it.

      2. My dual-level microwave has a removable plastic rack. I never use it because the warming/defrosting/cooking times are very hit-miss and usually require switching halfway through to be effective.

        1. Most microwaves have been metal safe since sometime in the 90s. You still don't want to put aluminum foil or things like forks in there, but pans and other things of decent guage tend to be fine. Oh...you also don't want the pan to touch the sides of the interior or arching will occur.

          I put metal pans in 1800-2000 watt commercial units all the time.

          Aluminum foil inside an 1800 watt microwave is quite fun to watch...LoL

          1. We have a Kenmore microwave, it was new when the house was built in 2008. I don't know the exact model since I'm not at home, but it's nothing fancy, pretty much your standard above the stove deal. Just confirming that you can leave the rack in (I do most of the time unless the container I'm microwaving in is too tall). You can also microwave two things at once if you like, you just may have to increase the cooking time than if you were just doing one. I also have a large turntable, it is glass.