microwave ovens are making waves in the American kitchen. More than 260,000 units are in use. That's 1 in 10 households using this new method of cooking, which is faster and more energy efficient.
Food manufacturers have acknowledged the presence of the microwave oven by introducing foods designed especially for microwave cooking. Some that offer special instructions for cooking their products this way are Green Giant, Sara Lee, Gorton's, Betty Crocker, Morning Star Farms, Swift, Quaker Oats, Pillsbury, Swanson's, and Stouffer.
Ever since microwave ovens were introduced to restaurateurs in the 1950s, the problem of browning meats and other foods has been solved in various ways. They include combining microwave with conventional calrod units in the oven; special ceramic dishes that increase browning, like those from Corning, Anchor Hocking, and Chartwell Corporation; and the use of a blend of herbs and spices to coat the food and seal in the juices. E-Z Cook-In Natural Browner is an example.
And because metals interfere with the transmission of microwaves through food , a host of plastic and paper accessories for cooking in the ovens are being offered. They include those made of polysulfone by Union Carbide and marketed under such brand names as Blisscraft of Hollywood, Foley Manufacturing Company, Tara Products, Mirro Aluminum Company, Aprica, Inc., Bangor Plastics, Duocon Corporation, Fleet Manufacturing, and AMG Industries. Plastic offered by Republic Molding and Mr. Microwave are suitable for microwave cooking only.
predictions, however, indicate that more and more combination units of microwave ovens with conventional ovens will be sold in the '80s. Hence cookware selected for microwave cooking today might best plan for the future by being usable in both types of cooking units. These include the items offered by Corning, Anchor Hocking, E-Z Cook-In, and Serena by Chartwell. Nordic Ware and Irvinware are also designed for use in tional as well as microwave ovens.
It's predicted by Litton Industries, which is said to keep the best statistics in the industry, that 2.75 million units will be sold industrywide this year. That's some $1.25 billion sales, according to Wayne Bledsoe, president of Litton Microwave Cooking Products.
Many men are buying the ovens for their wives, and women seem to be puzzled about how to choose among the many options available. With as many as 20 touch-plate programs ranging from defrosting to the actual cooking to choose from, it's no wonder they are confused.
Verna Ludvigson, director of consumer affairs at Litton, recommends that to simplify the choices the homemaker first review the capacity of the oven she is considering. "She should make her choices as she would when selecting a washer or a dryer. If she has a smaller family she'll want a compact unit. But if she has large baking dishes and casseroles, she'll want a larger one."
The essential features are not so hard to determined, either, she says. She would want some basics: defrosting that cycles the power on and off, to bring about rapid defrosting, and variable power. "It's like selecting permapress on the washer. You'd want that extra choice, so on a microwave oven you'd want a variety of choices to turn up and down, to vary the power," the microwave adviser explains.
She also recommends that the instructions be well written and that a use-and-care manual be available as well as good cookbook. Other factors to consider are easy-to-clean surfaces inside the oven, then features above and beyond basic needs.
Having programs in the touch buttons of the oven means the homemaker can cook automatically. She no longer cooks by sight, women feel that the top-of-the-line giving the most advertised features, is the only one to buy, but Mrs. Ludvigson explains that many modest-priced units are just as beneficial to the homemaker as the top-of-the-line models.
She points out that with the use of microprocessors, the chips that make the touch plates possible, even though there are more programs offered there is less that can go wrong, since the circuitry is less complicated.