What To Consider When Choosing A New Oven Or Range
By: Pamela Redwine,
MSU Nutrition and Food
Safety Area Agent
Unless you have purchased a range or oven lately, you may be unaware of many new features that are available to you. These features allow you more freedom, more options, and can save you money.
When purchasing ranges and ovens, the most important factor continues to be accounting for current size and space. Buying an oven the same external size as your original equipment will minimize replacement problems, which could lead to costly remodeling.
When measuring, you will want to measure the height, width, and depth you have available. It is also important to measure any doorways or halls that your new oven will have to pass through in order to be installed. Also, be sure to consider interior size as well as exterior size. You may want to take your largest cookie sheet or roasting pan to make sure they will fit in your new oven.
You will also have options when choosing exactly what type of range or oven you would like. Freestanding ranges that combine the oven and range offer great value and save space by placing the cooktop directly on top of the oven. Separate cooktops and ovens have become increasingly popular in recent years. With separate cooktops, the oven may be placed at a higher level while freestanding range ovens typically go to the floor, which, with bending and lifting, may be hard on those with back problems. Separate cooktops also allow for double ovens, where two ovens are placed directly on top of each other. Double ovens allow for more overall cooking space and the ability to roast or bake with differing temperatures as needed.
Another very important factor to consider when purchasing a new oven or stove is what type of energy you will use. Electricity and natural gas are the two primary sources of energy and each have their advantages and disadvantages.
Electric ranges and ovens are used in approximately 58% of American homes. Ranges are available with two main types of heating elements, standard coil burners or smooth-top surfaces. Individual standard coil burners can be easily removed and replaced if needed.
However, the openings are exposed and spills from cooking can make cleaning drip pans and underneath the cooktop a chore. Smoothtop ranges have radiant elements that are installed beneath a ceramic glass surface that protects spills from reaching the elements.
Smoothtop surfaces also provide a very integrated look that many people prefer. While cleaning is easier, solid-tops may require special cleaning solutions, in order to keep from scratching the glossy surface. Today more than 50 percent of ranges sold at retail are smoothtop. Electric ovens generally allow for more consistent heating and accuracy with respect to temperature when compared to gas. When considering cost, electric stoves are usually less expensive than gas stoves at purchase, but energy use may generate higher expenses long-term.
Purchase of gas ranges have been increasing in recent years, because of savings that result from using natural gas instead of electricity. A gas stove costs less than half as much to operate as an electric one, provided it uses an electronic ignition instead of a pilot light. Having an electronic ignition will reduce gas usage by about 30 percent over a constantly burning pilot light. Plus, an electric ignition eliminates the need to have to relight the pilot light should it go out. Gas burners are available as either open burners, large openings for the burner that allows for cleaning underneath, and sealed burners that are attached directly to the cooktop. Spills and splatters are contained on the cooktop that can then be easily cleaned.
Two other options that are gaining popularity are duel-fuel ranges and convection ovens. Dual-fuel ranges combine the easy heat regulation of gas burners with the consistent heating of electric ovens. Dual-ranges are typically more expensive than conventional models and most require a 240-volt outlet. Convections ovens, in addition to standard bake and broil elements found in conventional ovens, have a fan that circulates the heat, which will allow for even browning and will often reduce both temperature and time of baking.
New technology that deserves mentioning is induction cooking. Induction cooktops use electromagnetic technology to heat only the pan. This leaves the burner cooler than gas or electric burners. Currently, induction cooktops are only available as separate units and have not yet been coupled with ovens, so functionality may be an issue for some.
Some other tips to consider when buying a new stove or oven:
Self-cleaning ovens eliminate the need for harsh cleaning sprays.
Warming drawers found in some models can be helpful in warming plates or service items prior to their use.
Bridge burners serve to connect two heating elements on the stove top and allow for complete heating of large pots and pans that may not fit on one heating element.
· New types of timers are also available. These allow you the option of delayed cooking or setting the oven to begin cooking at a specific time that you have set.
· Finally, consider the number of people you will normally be cooking for. Large-capacity ovens and more burners may be something important if you are frequently cooking for lots of people.
Recipe of the Week:
Crispy Baked Chicken
1 cup (8 ounces) fat-free French onion dip
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1 cup cornflake crumbs
1/2 cup wheat germ
6 skinless chicken breast halves or thighs (about 1/4 pound each)
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray shallow baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Place dip in shallow bowl; stir until smooth. Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until pourable consistency is reached.
3. Combine cornflake crumbs and wheat germ on plate.
4. Dip chicken pieces in milk mixture, then roll in cornflake mixture. Place chicken in single layer in prepared dish. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with fork and chicken is no longer pink near bone.