A top-of-the-line oven is a home chef’s best friend. With so many choices — ranging from electric and gas ovens, built-in ovens, double ovens and more — it’s easy to find one that fits perfectly into your kitchen. If you’re having trouble deciding between a wide variety of models, read on for some valuable tips:
What kind of oven is best for my cooking style?
With so many options for ovens, it’s easy to get lost in all the details. Here’s a handy list of pros and cons that will help you easily decide:
• Gas: This style can be more efficient than its electric counterpart and will heat up and cook food much more quickly. However, you’ll need a gas connection and outside venting options in order to install one.
• Electric: An electric oven can be less expensive than gas and typically offers a wider selection. They might also have a larger capacity, but typically take longer to heat up and use more energy than gas ovens.
• Convection: A convection oven will cook your food quickly by moving hot air around the unit with a fan. They tend to be more expensive and are smaller due to the addition of a fan inside.
• Steam: A steam oven boils water in a built-in reservoir to create a cloud of steam that cooks food and retains moisture. Steam cooking enthusiasts claim that this method retains more flavor, texture and color, but it also loses fewer vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are naturally found in food. While these ovens will thoroughly cook meats, fish, vegetables, pasta and more, you won’t find the golden brown color on the skin of your meat that traditional cooking styles offer.
What about double or built-in ovens?
A built-in or wall oven is typically built directly into the wall of your kitchen. While traditional models are dropped or slid in between cabinetry and feature a cooking range on top, built-ins forego the cooktop for the possibility of adding an additional unit on top, creating a double oven. Some built-in models can also fit below your countertop, freeing up valuable prep space. They come in gas, electric or convection styles and range in size from 24 to 30 inches wide. If you’re considering adding a wall oven to your kitchen, be aware that they must be connected to an electrical junction box via wiring installed in your cabinetry.
I can’t stand cleaning my oven! Is there a way to make cleaning easier?
We wholeheartedly agree that cleaning is a pain in the you-know-what, and luckily there are two self-cleaning options that can save you both time and energy:
• Pyrolytic: A pyrolytic oven heats up to between 900 and 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit during the cleaning cycle, which reduces all that baked on grime to ash, making it much easier to clean up. While this style allows you to drop those chemical-infused cleaners in the trash (responsibly, of course!), you’ll still want to do a quick wipe down of the inside before starting the process — this will help reduce smoke and fumes during the cleaning process. Also, be sure there’s a locking mechanism so small children can’t open the door while it’s heating up to such extreme temperatures.
• Steam: This style is lined with proprietary enamel coating, which allows the walls to release dirt when activated by steam and low heat. This method is quicker than the pyrolytic method and doesn’t require such high temperatures. While it releases less fumes, it doesn’t clean as thoroughly as your pyrolytic option.
What other features can be added to ovens?
Several bells and whistles can be added to ovens, including the ability to program a delayed start time. Other models feature oversized windows that offer a great view of your meal as it cooks, but remember, a watched pot never boils! Other features include electronic controls that allow you to set precise temperatures, and parents with younger children can opt for safety locks to keep children from opening hot ovens.
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