To microwave or not to microwave


microwave-foodA while ago, Living Zone innocently published Jess’ recipe on how to make a chocolate cake in 15 minutes. Soon, it transpired that the use of microwave ovens can be a controversial subject (see comments under the blog post).


Being too busy perfecting her baking skill, Jess asked me to investigate the microwave dilemma. I poured all over the World Wide Web, and my conclusion is that microwave ovens are just fine. After all, the health authorities all over the word, including the World Health Organisation, say so. True, there have been studies pointing to a bigger-than-usual loss of nutrients in microwave-cooked food. However, for every such study there have been several that found that microwaves do no more harm to the food than conventional heating.


Of course, it is a well known fact that raw food (of non-animal origin) is more nutritious than cooked food, because all cooking methods destroy some nutrients. Vitamin C and vitamin B12 are especially sensitive to heat. The amount of depletion depends on how much water is used in the cooking (the less, the better, unless you consume the water too – think about that the next time you cook spinach!); how long the food is cooked (the shorter, the better); and at what temperature it is cooked (very high temperatures are bad). This leads to the conclusion that microwaving food is good on two counts (less water is used; the cooking time is short) and bad on one count (microwave temperatures are very high).


So, the final verdict is… Well, there is no final verdict. There is no denying that microwave ovens are one of the most convenient kitchen appliances. There is also no denying that many people do not like them, for various reasons.


Personally, I prefer my food conventionally cooked, simply because it tastes better that way. As for the microwave, I turn to it only to heat up ready-made meals (gasp…there, I admitted it!) and Sunday lunch left-overs.


And to make Jess’ quick chocolate cake.


Now seems like a good time to show you some vintage ads for microwave ovens: