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Microwave oven

A microwave oven (also commonly referred to as a microwave) is an electric oven that heats and cooks food by exposing it to electromagnetic radiation in the microwave frequency range. This induces polar molecules in the food to rotate and produce thermal energy in a process known as dielectric heating. Microwave ovens heat foods quickly and efficiently because excitation is fairly uniform in the outer of a homogeneous, high water content food item; food is more evenly heated throughout than generally occurs in other cooking techniques.

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It's a common myth that operating microwave ovens are not safe to be close to. What is true is that the radiation used in these appliances are not harmful to be around. The radiation is only absorbed by water in food and drinks inside and is literally bounced/reflected off the inner-side surfaces, such as the door by the holey barrier seen if one peers closely at it. Overall, it's perfectly safe to watch your food cook through the microwave door.

Contributed by Melissa Figley

Microwave ovens work by blasting your dinner (or the coffee you left on your desk for too long!) with microwaves - I'm sure this is fairly common knowledge. Anyway, the microwaves heat your food up from the inside out; emphasis on the INSIDE. Have you ever made cake-in-a-cup in the microwave, only to take it out and realise that the middle of your cake is perfectly done, but the top, sides and bottom remain in a batter-like state? Is this not backwards!? Not backwards, no, but perhaps inside-out.... Solution! To ensure your food cooks, or heats through evenly, arrange it in a level ring on your plate, with a hole made in the middle. This doesn't cook the non-food-that-is-no-longer-in-the-middle-of-your-plate. It still heats your food from the inside, out, but because the overall density of your food has decreased, the microwaves can affect you food particles in a more uniform way, and FASTER too, because there are fewer particles to penetrate before they can all be loaded with kinetic energy that makes them move like little crazies and become hot. (N.B. this method does not work with liquids like soup! Unless you have a Bundt cake pan... but don't put any metal in the microwave or you might die. Alternatively, try placing a small plastic cup up-side-down in the center of your [NOT metal] bowl, before pouring the soup around it. This should have the same effect. Don't forget to remove your *metal* spoon from the bowl before microwaving!)

Contributed by Sarah Joy Blankenship

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