Choosing an oven fit for your lifestyle is an important kitchen decision. Whether you are cooking for one, a family of 4, or you fancy yourself a Michelin star chef your oven will be a centrepiece to your meal prep arsenal. So how do you ensure it is just right for you and your household’s needs?
First, you must look at your kitchen layout. Is your oven’s location predetermined or is there some flexibility? Are you set up for gas or electricity as your fuel source? Once you’ve answered these questions it is just a matter of deciding what features are worth it and which are less than important. Here are some key features to be aware of while shopping around.
Free-Standing or Built-In
Free-standing ovens have the benefit of having the cooktop included and, typically, a larger capacity than built-ins. Built-ins tend to be more space-efficient and can be installed at any height you desire. If cost is an issue, you are best to go with the free-standing units. These will give you more bang for your buck since you would also have to purchase a separate cooktop with the built-ins.
Gas, Induction or Electric
This feature will depend greatly on how your home is set up. Gas has the benefit of working even in a power outage, heats evenly on the hobs, and cools instantly when turned off. However, it takes longer to heat and is not the best option for a cook with little time. Induction hobs work through electromagnetic energy and only heat when in contact with induction-specific cookware. This means your surface is always cool when you want it to be but also means buying induction-specific cookware which is an added cost. Electric cooktops come in coil and smooth varieties, and both use electricity to heat the metal elements in the hobs. The exposed coils do not heat evenly but they are the least expensive option on the market. The smooth, glass surfaces are a step up from the coils, but they can be scratched easily.
For your actual oven, your options are gas or electric. Benefits are similar to the cooktops, but gas ovens do not heat as uniformly and can produce uneven bakes as a result and electric units do not have this issue. Additionally, you may choose to have two fuel sources to get the best of both worlds.
With the basics out of the way, you can now mull over the specific features that will best enhance your cooking experience.
Getting your oven to the right temperature is critical. If you must open the door to check on your bake, you allow all that heat to escape. A glass door is a simple upgrade to achieve this goal.
The internal temperature of your food can also be important to gauge. If you are frequently roasting or grilling meats in the oven, having a temperature probe is a good option for you. Opening the door to stick your meat with a thermometer risks losing the precious heat from your oven.
This feature uses a fan to move the heat around the oven, heating the unit faster, more efficiently, and more evenly. In the long run, it saves you money on electricity usage.
Typically, one is slightly smaller than the other, allowing you to cook the Christmas pie and roast duck at the same time. Or perhaps you just turn on the small one to cook a casserole, saving you on fuel and your home’s cooling bill.
Your oven purchase needs to be one in which you are confident. Take your time to research all the features and get the one that works best for you and your budget. Bon Appetit!