Are you considering changing your cooktop and/or oven sometime soon? I had the opportunity to attend sessions at the Dwell magazine/Monogram classes held recently in Seattle. I know in my home, we cook regularly (probably 90% of the time) and I’d love to have a cooktop and oven that made it:
- better tasting, and
- better for me
than our current traditional radiant oven and cooktop. Below are some choices for your consideration when you start thinking about your choices on the market.
Do you yearn for the ease and fast-paced heating of electric (radiant) cook tops but also want the temperature control to be more responsive? If your favorite TV cook has made you long for gas, but tearing up the kitchen to put in gas lines isn’t in your plans, then consider induction cooking, which uses electromagnetism to heat the food in the cookware itself. You’ll find it:
- provides an extremely fast boil, 50% faster than gas or electric.
- heats food faster and therefore saves energy,
- uses 90% of the energy produced compared to only 55% for a gas burner and 65% for traditional electric burners.
- more powerful, and heats hotter and faster than gas or electric. (A typical induction cooktop is 84 percent efficient, while a gas range is only 40 percent efficient, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.)
- cooks evenly,
- reduces heat in the kitchen,
- safe, as you can’t burn yourself on the cooktop, & pots stay mostly cool while cooking,
- many models turn themselves off if you leave it on accidentally.
- easier to clean, because you aren’t cleaning up spills that have burned on the stovetop.
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The one negative is that induction cookware must be made of a magnetic-based material, such as cast iron or magnetic stainless steel. Fully clad cookware brands, such as All-Clad Stainless, Le Creuset Stainless Steel and Mauviel M'cooks stainless work on induction cooktops because they're magnetic. Cast Iron cookware also works on induction, like Le Creuset Signature Cast Iron.
A convection oven circulates hot air with a fan. Unlike conventional radiant ovens, convection ovens have a fan that continuously circulates air through the oven cavity. When hot air is blowing onto food, as opposed to merely surrounding it, the food tends to cook more quickly. A convection oven deals with problems of hot spots or uneven cooking, because the circulating air keeps the temperature more steady. You can therefore reduce the heat by about 25 degrees on most of your treasured recipes. It does take a 240 volt outlet, so an electrician would need to deal with that portion of the change. They are known to be less effective with baked goods, as they tend to dry the food because of the air movement around the food being prepared. Most convection ovens allow you to turn the fan on or off, however making it a good choice for your home.
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Cookies on the left are unevenly baked
in a conventional oven.
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Although steam cooking is a growing trend in today’s market, the science of steam cooking has been around for centuries. The first recorded use of steam cooking was in Ancient China where cooks would place reed baskets over water-filled hot woks.
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The French invented pressure cookers in the 1950s which became a convenient way to prepare meat and vegetables.
In recent years restaurants use steam cooking to prepare food quickly and keep it warm until serving time. Several residential appliance brands produce steam ovens so you can have access to this technology in your home.
When the oven is turned on, the heat turns water into steam. Many steam ovens have a removable reservoir that needs to be refilled when you use the oven, and changed from time to time. Some high-end models are connected to a water line. The oven has a valve to release pressure of the steam similarly to a pressure cooker or a tea kettle. It uses natural convection adding flavor with heat, liquid, or air, without having to resort to butter or oil.
Steam cooking is the healthiest form of cooking, retaining more nutrients than other forms of cooking so that your produce tastes better and is healthier.
You can cook, bake, roast, grill, steam, defrost, and warm leftovers making these ovens some of the most versatile appliances in the industry.
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Manufacturers claim that you could theoretically cook fish on one rack and muffins on another rack and your muffins will not taste like fish!
Steaming works well for delicate foods, and many people also use steam to cook vegetables, fish, meats, and add moisture back into leftovers, something that a convection oven or microwave won’t do. Steam ovens are the easier appliances to clean because food splatters and spills will never cook onto the oven surface. After you are finished cooking you should just wipe down the inside of the oven. Any spills should come off really easily. On the negative side, there are installation requirements for steam ovens, steam oven tend to have smaller cavities, and they don’t brown foods as well as other means of cooking, which can make some food less appetizing in appearance.
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Combination ovens are currently on the market that will allow you to combine steam, use induction and microwave foods simultaneously. Coming up in the near future: cooktops undefined by element rings!
What are your questions or comments on cooktops and ovens? If you want or need help selecting, designing or remodeling your kitchen, please contact me at https://TransformationsforInteriors.com and we'll set up an initial consultation....and please follow this blog for the latest home improvements!