Roasting, grilling, baking and heating: since the dawn of time, ovens have enabled humankind to enjoy the spoils of these convenient and delicious cooking methods. Even in the twenty-first century, the oven undoubtedly remains the cornerstone of every home kitchen. Fortunately, between then and now we’ve upgraded from earth and stone ovens to models that are a bit more sophisticated. Buying a new oven is something most of us will only do a few times over the course of our lives. Because it is such a rare event, deciding which oven to get for your home can be challenging. Then there is the abundance of choices on offer – none of which are the same as the last time you got an oven because technology evolves so fast. Never fear! We’ve put together some handy hints to help you along in your oven-buying journey. Read on to learn about the different types of ovens, common oven sizes, and some interesting modern features to look out for.
The Basics: Types of Ovens
• Freestanding or upright ovens consist of hotplates on top and an oven underneath. Installation is simple as the oven does not require mounting in a cupboard or wall space. • Built-in ovens are mounted into a wall, on a bench or integrated into the kitchen cupboard. This saves space and can also keep the unit safely out of children’s reach. • Electric or conventional ovens have a thermostat that controls the heat of the oven by measuring the temperature in the middle of the internal cavity, making it hotter at the top and cooler at the bottom. • Fan ovens are versions of conventional ovens that include a fan to create an even temperature throughout the unit, saving energy and reducing cooking time. • Gas ovens use an electric spark to light a flame at the base of the unit. As the air heats, it circulates and rises. As gas emits moisture when cooking, these types of ovens are particularly good for baking cakes. • Multifunction ovens are capable of using different combinations of heating elements to cook the food inside them, offering you greater flexibility and control. Settings can include conventional, fan, grill, bottom heat only, and defrost settings. • Double ovens have different areas capable of operating on different settings simultaneously.
The Logistics: Sizing Options
A range of oven capacities exist to suit your cooking needs and available kitchen space. Ovens are measured according to their size on the outside. Smaller kitchens better suit compact models such as a 45cm ovens, or combination units that serve as both an oven and microwave. Standard kitchens are often matched with a single 60cm oven unit. These units generally have a 56 litre capacity, however larger capacities are now on offer for the 60cm unit size. For even more room, take a look at the many spacious models ranging up to 90cm in size. If you are still unsure, take along your favourite baking tray or dish as a guide while you try a few ovens on for size.
The Extras: Modern Features
• Oven doors – The more layers of glass an oven door has, the cooler it will be to touch, which is an important safety consideration if your appliance will be in reach of children. Also check to see if the oven door hinges at the side or bottom, and is lockable. • Controls and settings – Look for functions including pre-programmed cooking options, preheat, grill, bake and defrost. As most ovens are fan-forced, check to see if the appliance also offers cooking options that are fan-free if you are after more variety. • Self-cleaning – Ovens with a self cleaning feature are usually more expensive than conventional models, but can save you some elbow grease. If this feature is beyond your budget, look for a unit that is easy to clean.