When it’s time to get cooking in the kitchen, everyone knows that it’s all about the stove and the oven. But what’s it all about when you’re buying a new stove and oven?
Your first decision is actually pretty straightforward: electricity or gas? Your home needs access to a natural gas supply in order to opt for the latter, but many cooks swear by gas because it offers a precise control of the heat, particularly at high temperatures.
Next, decide which of the three possible stove/oven configurations suits you. The most familiar combo is the free-standing range. It has heating elements on top and an oven below, plus finished side panels that allow either side of the appliance to be exposed.
The most elaborate choice is the separate cooktop and wall-oven combination. It offers flexibility in where you place your stove and your oven. If you cook for large crowds or bake in quantity you can also install multiple ovens which run independently of one another, either stacked in one spot or placed conveniently elsewhere in the kitchen. However, a wall oven may require custom construction of a wall and installation of the gas-line or the wiring that powers it.
To achieve that built-in look without any special fittings, try the slide-in range. It comes without finished side panels because it slips snugly between cabinets, and without a back-splash panel so that it abuts the back wall neatly and is flush with your counters at the front.
If you like to cook and bake even a little bit, then one extra feature to consider is the true European convection oven. All ovens contain as standard features, a baking element on the bottom and a broiling element up top, but these ones add a fan at the back that’s surrounded by a third element. The fan circulates the air throughout the oven, allowing for consistent heating and even browning of, say, several racks of cookies. Food will cook faster, too.
Additional features that rate high scores for convenience are warming drawers with separate temperature controls. These ensure that food stays hot before it’s served, but some warming drawers can also cook at low temperatures, dehy-drate foods or warm stacks of plates. High-speed, self-cleaning mechanisms and safety lockout controls to keep small children out of the oven are also nice.
Stove cooktops vary in look, depending on whether you’ve chosen a gas or electric appliance. Electric cooktops come in the less expensive coil element styles as well as the more upscale, glassy smooth-tops. The latter are easy to clean and often boast warming zones (a very low-wattage fifth element) and bridge elements (which heat the cooktop between two burners so you can keep longer pans warm.) However, glass-tops need careful handling lest they scratch. The cooking elements on gas stoves are grates made of cast-iron or ceramic. Many feature one-piece grates over the whole cooktop which allow you to slide pots and pans across the surface with ease.
Colours are rare in contemporary appliances. Most sport white, black or stainless steel finishes.