Often looked down upon for being unhealthy or having an uncalled for reputation for creating poor quality ready meals, the microwave is actually a top quality tool for busy caterers that need a helping hand with common kitchen tasks—or you simply need a quality defrosting and reheating tool.
If you’re in the market for a new microwave and you are quite sure what you need, then this simple guide will help you get the best possible fit for your catering business.
One of the biggest developments in both home and commercial kitchens was the introduction of the combination microwave, which merges oven-style cooking capabilities with high-power blast microwave cooking.
Deciphering the Microwave
Let’s dispel some common myths that propagate from the usage of microwaves.
- Radio waves set to specific frequency are used to heat up water molecules within your food.
- These waves vibrate these molecules within the food meaning it’s a quicker process than with a standard convection oven, where heat has to heat from the outside inward.
- Microwaves pass harmlessly through glass, ceramics and plastics – which is why they don’t break or explode – unless they are not microwave suitable.
- Metal reflects these radio waves which increases cooking times for foods within a microwave.
- Because they are capable of heating water molecules, microwaves are adept at defrosting foods quickly.
- There is no link between microwave usage and the increased risk of cancer.
- The microwave can be used to cook quicker than a traditional oven.
Where does the convection or combination microwave fit?
Microwaves come in many shapes and sizes, but more regularly than not, in the commercial world, we tend to refer to the combination microwave.
Why? Well that’s due in part to the increased cooking capability that the combination microwave offers, with the same power output of the standard microwave but with many of the benefits of a regular convection oven included.
So you have both hot air and microwaves cooking your food. The advantage of this setup is that you get the quick interior heating of microwaves combined with the surface browning from the hot air; convection just makes that hot air cooking faster and more even.
Browner, faster-cooked food is ideal for restaurants, cafes and bars that want to serve dishes quickly but need a small and powerful utility cooking unit.
How to choose a microwave for my business
Lots of businesses still make the common mistake of thinking that a domestic microwave is acceptable for usage in a professional kitchen.
The problem with this is that these domestic microwaves tend to be much lower power models, with just one heating element or magnetron, meaning slower heating processes.
It’s not just the low power, these home appliances tend to be made from cheaper, lighter materials and not built to withstand high levels of usage or regular commercial kitchen abuse.
Power output is likely the biggest differentiator between standard and combination microwave models, and understanding the differences between light, medium and heavy-duty machines can help you make a decision on what best suits your particular needs.
- Light-duty = Power ranges of 900w to 1100w. Suitable for light duty use in cafés, small commercial kitchens or retail outlets.
- Medium-duty = Power ranges of 1100w to 1500w & generally more robust. Suitable for catering operations where the appliance will be subjected to moderate use.
- Heavy-duty = Power ranges of 1500w to 2000w. These ovens are suitable for busy commercial kitchens with regular & constant use where speed & heating performance are essential.
As a tool simply for defrosting and reheating, a commercial microwave can be a useful tool for your kitchen, but as a powerful cooking unit in their own right you can open up a world of increased cooking possiblity beyond your ordinary cooking procedures.
To learn more and to see our entire range please visit our dedicated commercial microwave section to see our entire product catalogue.