The options available when selecting your cooking appliances for your kitchen can be daunting. Knowing the key features you are looking for before you start looking will make the selection process easier.
Electric stoves are the most common. There are two styles; coil and smooth-top. The coil models have a metal element in a coil shape that rises above the surface. Smooth top has glass plate that covers the entire surface of the stove. The glass covers the metal coils.
Traditional coil models are inexpensive. They are good option for a cottage, vacation home, or rental property. The downside is they can be pain to clean as the drip bowls under the coils will need to be removed and cleaned. For home chefs, electric can be too imprecise and take too long to heat up.
Glass tops provide a clean look. After being turned off the glass will retain its heat for some time. It’s important young children understand they cannot touch the glass top. Special cleaning tools are recommended for the glass top. A razor blade like tool can help remove food items that have caked on. Be careful when cooking with any kind of liquid sugar. If it spills it will be extremely difficult to remove. Some models will have burners that can adjust to different sizes or have a fifth burner while others will have an extra high heat setting to boil water faster. This features are not available with traditional coil models.
Gas is the preferred cooking method for many professional and amateur chefs. It gives precise control and heats up quickly. Before getting gas you will need to arrange for a gas technician to bring a gas line into the area where your stove sits. When the appliance is delivered a gas tech will need to come to hook it up. It’s important to note that all gas stoves will have the controls at the front. This could be consideration if you have small children.
Gas stoves have metal grates above the burners. Higher-end models will use cay iron and the grates will extend the entire surface of the stove, making it easier to slide pots and pans around. Some models will have a fifth element in the middle and come with a griddle accessory.
The oven that comes with a gas stove can be either gas or electric. Models that come with a gas oven will be cheaper. Electric ovens have the advantage of being able to use proper convection. Convection ovens have a multiple fans that circulate the hot air to provide even heat distribution. Gas ovens cannot have as much air moving around as this would affect the temperature.
Induction cooking is a relatively new technology that uses induction heating to heat the cooking pot rather than simply transferring heat to the pot like gas or electric. To function, the cooking vessel needs be able to hold a magnet. Many pots will identify on the box whether they are compatible with induction.
Induction heats up quickly, provides even heat, and has the precise heat control that is similar to gas. Since the cooking surface is never heated, only the pot, spills have little risk of continuing to cook on the stove and children are safe, as a hand can be placed on the element with little chance of burning.
Free standing stoves can come in gas electric, or induction. These units are 30 inches wide and have the controls in the back (except for gas). This is the standard/traditional look for stoves. Some free standing models may come with a double oven with a small oven just above the larger one, or could come with a warming drawer, where the drawer at the bottom traditionally used for storing pots and pans can be heated up.
Slide-in stoves come in gas, electric, and induction (although coil top is rare). These units have the controls at the front with no back. This gives a more built-in look. These units are more expensive than free standing. The cut out depth for a slide-in will be about six inches less than the actual depth of the stove. This is due to the controls and back sticking out a bit.
Cooktops are a single piece of just the cooking surface. This provides flexibility where the cooking surface can be placed anywhere in the kitchen. Cooktops can usually be found with smooth top, gas, induction models, and sometimes in coil. Cooktops come in a variety of sizes, 24, 30, 36, and 48 inches, and come with up to six burners.
Wall oven are exactly as they sound, oven placed into the wall. They come in a variety of sizes and configurations. Many people place them in the wall at waist height while other place them directly below their cooktop. Wall ovens come in 30, 27, and 24 inch widths.
Wall ovens can come single, double, or combined with a speed cook microwave. Double oven are two oven in a single unit, each about 25 inches high (these can also come in a model where the second oven is smaller). Speed cook microwaves are microwaves combined with convection technology. This allows you to cook your food in a variety of ways.
Finally, warming drawers are drawers that can be built into your wall. They can be sued to keep food warm that has already been cooked, proof bread, as a slow cooker or even in the bathroom to keep your towels warm.
It’s easy to get carried away and want all high-end appliances. Consider your lifestyle, the size of your kitchen, how you like and how often you cook. At the end of the day you will have to look at your appliances every day, and you need to pick the ones that make you happy.
By Ian MacNeil