I’m sure you have probably been in my position before, on the lookout for a new kitchen appliance. I looked into buying a new microwave and didn’t know where to start.
I wanted a new microwave, but couldn’t choose between the different kinds of microwaves you can buy. Hopefully my writing below will help you with this, and in particular with the question of what is a solo microwave oven?
So what is a solo microwave oven? A solo microwave is a regular microwave that does not combine functions of convection or grill microwave ovens. It can simply heat, reheat and defrost food. It cooks food by exciting water molecules in food creating heat through the use of microwaves created by a magnetron.
There is of course more to a solo microwave than the above answer. I’ve gone into some detail below about solo microwaves. Read on to see exactly how they cook food, what types of food they cook and how much you can expect to pay for a solo microwave.
What Is A Solo Microwave Oven?
So as I said above, a solo microwave is really the name for the regular microwave that you would have in your kitchen. I have called it a solo microwave here to show the difference between a regular microwave, an inverter microwave, a flatbed microwave and one that combines other cooking abilities such as a grill microwave oven or a convection microwave.
You can also buy a microwave called a grill microwave. This kind of microwave combines regular microwave cooking with grilling.
Another microwave that combines cooking methods is the convection microwave oven. This kind of microwave has the addition of an extra fan to circulate hot air around the microwave. This allows you to bake and roast in the microwave.
With a solo microwave you have the ability to cook food quickly and easily. It is ideal for busy people who need to cook food quickly. It can also be used to reheat leftover food and for defrosting.
How Does A Solo Microwave Cook Food?
A conventional microwave oven cooks food very differently from other appliances in the kitchen. Most people who buy and use a microwave oven really have no idea how this works.
The main component in a microwave oven is something called a magnetron. If you are interested in more depth look at these you can read more about them in my post about magnetrons in microwave ovens.
A magnetron creates something called microwaves, which are used both in the cooking of food and in the use of radars. Primarily used in radar technology during World War 2, it was accidentally discovered that microwaves also had the ability to cook and heat food by Percy Spencer.
The type of magnetron used in a solo microwave oven is called a cavity magnetron. The cavity part of the magnetron comes from little spaces or cavities within the magnetron.
As electrons pass from an anode to a cathode they are circulated around the space in the magnetron due to a large magnet running underneath. As they whizz around they pass over these little cavities.
These cavities then start to resonate, creating microwaves. This is why the microwave is called a microwave!
Once the microwaves are created, they pass into the cooking compartment of a microwave via something called a waveguide. Once inside the cooking compartment, these microwaves bounce around the inside of the microwave, reflected by the sides.
The food or liquid inside of the microwave then absorbs these microwaves. When this happens the water molecules inside the food or liquid begin to vibrate rapidly. This causes heat, which in turn cooks the food.
What Types Of Cooking Can You Do With A Solo Microwave?
Now there some things you can and can’t do with a solo microwave oven. Like I said it can be used for cooking food very quickly.
There are, however, some types of cooking that are far from ideal with a solo microwave oven on its own. You can’t brown or crisp food on its own using just a solo microwave oven.
You obviously wouldn’t be trying to cook a nice steak in there either. Believe me you would not get the desired effect that frying a steak would give you. Due to the ‘outside in nature’ of the cooking process in a microwave, it is not really best suited for cooking large pieces of meat.
So what types of cooking can you do with a solo microwave?
Solo microwave ovens can be used for cooking suitable foods very quickly and easily. The range of things you can cook in a microwave is probably greater than you would think.
I mostly use mine for heating up things like soup, and making delicious baked potatoes. A microwave though is versatile, and you can make so many things with it.
Below is a list of just some of the things I’ve found that you can cook with a solo microwave. Please feel free to add to it in the comments below.
- Scrambled eggs
- Fluffy rice
- All kinds of pasta dishes
- Steamed Salmon
- Poached Eggs
- French toast
The list goes on really. These were just a few ideas I found while searching around. I’m sure you can find tons more.
One of the best things about the solo microwave oven is in its ability to reheat food. I’m a big fan of keeping leftover takeout to eat the next day.
Even things like leftover pizza can be quickly reheated safely in the microwave. I often find it tastes even better the next day after reheating. The great thing about this is it’s so quick that you can have food reheated in literally seconds with next to no mess or pots and pans to clean.
Another great function of the solo microwave is in its ability to defrost food fairly quickly. I love making meals that I can freeze and heat up at a later date. I also keep a lot of food in the freezer. I’m out a lot during the week and don’t know when I will next be cooking at home.
Being able to take food out of the freezer and quickly defrost it is really my best option. There’s no need to leave food out during the day to defrost, and it saves it being wasted if I don’t get home in time to make something with it.
I can simply take something out when I get home, and use one of my microwaves defrost functions to quickly and safely defrost my food.
Advantages Of Cooking With A Solo Microwave
You can read more in depth details about this in my post on the advantages and disadvantages of microwave ovens. Below is just a brief run down of both the advantages and disadvantages of cooking with a solo microwave.
Ability to Heat Food Quickly
Due to the way a microwave cooks food, it is possible to blast food very quickly and easily in a microwave. Especially foods like soup.
Ability to Set Timers
Timers on microwaves are a total life saver. Set the timer on your food and walk away. When the microwave beeps your food is cooked and ready to go.
Timers are also handy to set on a microwaves to time cooking with other appliances such as stovetops.
Easy to Clean
Microwaves are super easy to clean. Just a wipe down of the inside and a wash of the turntable is really all you need. If you use a splatter guard it will also stop any splashes from covering the inside of the microwave.
Can be Used for Safe Defrosting of Food
Like I said above, the defrost function on a solo microwave is a total life saver. No more waiting all day for foods to defrost. Quickly and safely defrost your favorite frozen foods or meals in minutes.
Easily Reheating Food
Again, being able to reheat food is a total life saver for me. Reheating food quickly and safely from the night before saves me so much time, and money too.
Variable Heat Settings
Modern microwaves have so many different features and settings. A reasonably good microwave will have functions and heat settings perfectly suited to most dishes and foods.
Disadvantages Of Cooking With A Solo Microwave
Can Dry Food When Cooked For Too Long
You have to be careful when cooking some foods in a microwave. As the appliance uses microwaves to excite water molecules in food producing heat, it is possible to dry out some foods if overcooked.
Can Leave Food Soggy if Overheated
Cooking food for too long in a microwave can also leave it soggy. Due to moisture build up from high temperature cooking, this can eventually be transferred back to foods. This can leave them soggy and inedible if cooked for too long.
Lack of Versatility
By this I mean that you can’t use a solo microwave to grill, fry or bake foods. This is pretty obvious, and more than likely not what you bought one for in the first place.
Not All Containers Can Be Used In A microwave
You do have to be careful with the types of containers and cookware you use in a microwave. Not all materials can be used safely. You cannot place metal in a microwave for cooking. Certain types of soft plastic are unsuitable too.
High Energy Consumption
Cooking for long periods of time with a microwave oven will lead to a high energy consumption in comparison to other cooking methods.
How Much Does A Solo Microwave Cost?
There is a huge variety on cost between the cheapest and most expensive solo microwaves. On Amazon I found solo microwaves ranging from around the $60 up to over $1000.
It is possible to buy both cheaper than this in some supermarkets, and probably higher than this at more bespoke retailers.
This microwave below was one of the cheapest I found on Amazon. Small in size, but still comes with plenty of features.
The microwave below on the other hand was on the opposite end of the scale! It is actually a commercial grade microwave, and even has a USB slot for uploading menus etc.
Things To Think About When Buying A Solo Microwave
Microwaves come in a variety of wattage sized from 600w up to in excess of 2000w. You will have to adjust cooking times based on the wattage of your microwave.
Obviously the higher the wattage, the faster things are more likely to cook. You do however need to ensure that you cook at a lower power function level on a microwave with higher wattage for more delicate items of food.
Most solo microwaves these days have a range of power levels. Even on the most basic models. As microwaves work by exciting the water molecules within foods or liquids, foods high in these should be cooked at a higher level.
When looking at microwave models you should think about how varied your use of it will be. The wider variety of things you will sue it for, the more power levels you will want on your microwave.
Some more expensive microwaves will come with a wide variety of cooking programs. On the more sophisticated models you can use these programs to adjust cooking times based on both the type and weight of the food you are cooking.
Flatbed Or Turntable Solo Microwave
Most solo microwaves come with a rotating plate called a turntable. This turns the food round constantly in the microwave to allow for the microwaves to cook the food evenly. This accounts for hot and cold spots within the cooking area.
You can however buy a solo microwave that has a flatbed. This doesn’t rotate at all, and so allows for a larger cooking area.
This kind of microwave uses a slightly different kind of cooking technology and so there are no hot and cold spots to worry about. You will pay more for a flatbed solo microwave.
So there you have it. More information than you thought possible about a solo microwave, what it is and what it can do.
Quite simply a solo microwave is generally the cheapest kind to buy and easiest to operate. Whilst you can buy some incredibly expensive models, you can buy a cheap microwave that will do pretty much all you need it to.
If you want me to add anything in to this article, or have an questions then please leave a comment below.