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Ranges (Stoves)

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

You probably wonít have to buy one very often, but thereís a lot to consider when buying a stove. A good quality one can last up to 20 years. The best thing to do is be prepared before you purchase. Here are some good things to know about shopping for stoves.

   BUYING TIPS

The Basics

  • The cook top is the flat surface used for boiling, sautéing, etc. The oven is the enclosed cooking area for baking and broiling. They can be purchased separate these days, but combined together they are referred to as a range or a stove.

  • A key decision in a stove purchase is whether you want to go gas or electric:

    • Gas cook tops provide a visible flame offering instant heat, quick response and accurate control. If you don’t already have a gas stove or a gas line in your house, you need to factor in that cost.

    • Electric cook tops are better than gas at maintaining low heat.

  • There are a few different options for electric cook tops:

    • Traditional electric cook tops have cast iron burners that lift up for easy cleaning.

    • Flat ceramic cook-tops have electric coils under translucent glass. The burner cycles on (glows red) and off to maintain even heat. Ceramic cook-tops are completely flat for easy clean ups (they must be cleaned quickly), but can scratch easily. Make sure it has a hot surface indicator. Also, black tends to be better than white, which shows grime and stains easily.

    • Induction cook-tops use electro-magnetic energy. The burner heats up only when a pan is present, reducing the chances of getting burned.

  • For gas cook tops, consider these features:

    • Sealed burners make for easier clean-ups

    • Heavier, porcelain-coated cast iron grants are more expensive, but are also better at transferring heat.

    • Continuous grates allow you to slide pots form one element to another without lifting, and also provides a level surface for placing other pans out of the oven.

    • An automatic re-igniter function ensures gas won’t be floating around your kitchen if the flame goes out.

  • For the oven part of the stove/range you can choose from conventional or convection style:

    • A conventional oven has bake and broil elements where heat radiates throughout the oven. Typically, however, the heat is concentrated in the upper are of the oven.

    • A convection oven continuously circulates hot air throughout the chamber using a fan. This helps to maintain a more even baking temperature. Convection cooking is also more efficient, so you can decrease your baking temperature by about 25°F (10°C).

  • When it comes to cleaning, ovens nowadays can do it automatically by heating to intensely high temperatures and turning any spills into fine powders that can easily wiped away.

Other Considerations

  • If you have a flat-top stove, use high-quality pots and pans with very flat bottoms for the most efficient cooking.

  • For ovens, the heat of a gas-powered oven absorbs better into a dark tin pan, while an aluminum pan reflects heat better when baking in an electric oven.

  • Extra features to consider (but be prepared to pay a bit extra):

    • The number, style, and size of burners can vary

    • If you do a lot of cooking/baking, consider a double oven.

    • Style and colour: stainless steel is popular, but shows smudges, and is usually more expensive than a typical black or white model.

    • Make sure it has a timer at least. A clock is an added convenience

    • We chose five homeowners with different stoves and cooked an elaborate meal using each one so we could do an exact comparison.

   TEST CRITERIA

We cooked the same meal in five different stoves to see if there were any differences. We tried:

  • Whirlpool Accubake (electric coil): $700
  • Maytag Performa (electric ceramic top): $900
  • Frigidaire (electric ceramic top convection oven): $2,099
  • KitchenAid Superba (gas cook top and convection oven): $2,055
  • Viking Professional (duel fuel, gas cook top and electric convection oven): $6,200

Boiling Test

We tested how long each cook top took to boil a pot of water:

  • The least expensive Whirlpool coil stove got the water boiling the fastest at 14:39

  • The Viking gas stove came in at 16:46, and the KitchenAid just over 17 minutes.

  • The flat top Maytag and Frigidaire to over 20 minutes to boil the water.

Cooking Test

  • All of our food came out pretty much the same. We cooked a roast and didn’t notice any differences in juiciness.

  • We did notice the convection ovens definitely cooked faster, which can be an advantage on time and energy savings.

   OUR TOP PICK

All of our stoves performed well in our tests. We had a tough time choosing a top choice, and went with the KitchenAid Superba for its ease of use and great functions and features.

 

 

 

 

 

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