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Wattage of Your Microwave Is Simple to Test

March 29, 1990|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — All microwave ovens are not created equal. Just as microwave ovens vary in size, shape and color, their cooking power--or wattage--varies from oven to oven.

Wattage affects cooking times, so it helps to know your microwave oven's wattage. However, according to the Campbell Microwave Institute, 88% of microwave oven owners don't know their oven's wattage, or they guess incorrectly.

What's your watt? Here's a simple water test from the institute to help you determine your oven's wattage in minutes:

WATTAGE TEST

--Fill a glass measuring cup with exactly one cup of tap water.

--Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH (100% power) until water begins to boil. Start by setting the timer at three minutes.

--If the water boils in less than three minutes, the oven's wattage is 600 to 700 watts. If the water boils in three to four minutes, the oven's wattage is 500 to 600 watts. If the water boils in more than four minutes, the oven's wattage is less than 500 watts.

Once you have determined the oven's wattage, you can adjust cooking times to achieve more precise results. Many microwave recipes and package directions are developed for 600- to 700-watt ovens. If your oven is less than 600 watts, you'll need to add extra time to each step of the cooking directions.

WATTAGE AND TIMING TIPS

--Wattage output is reduced when the oven competes for electric power, such as when air conditioners or other major appliances are on. Thus, cooking time may need to be increased to compensate for lower wattage output.

--Heating directions are developed using foods at normal storage temperatures. Directions for frozen products are based on foods five degrees to 10 degrees. If ice cream in the freezer stays soft, chances are that all the frozen foods have a higher temperature than 10 degrees--and will cook more quickly.

--As a rule, cook only one frozen dinner or entree at at time. If preparing two dinners or entrees, heat the one with a longer cooking time first, then keep it covered while heating the second one.

--Standing time is the final stage of cooking for some products and recipes; a time for heat to spread evenly through the food. If a food has been covered during heating, keep the cover on during standing time.

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