The Kitchen Range

One of your first steps in your kitchen remodel is to decide what you want; a gas range, a cooktop and a built in oven, an island built-in, two ovens and a cooktop … whatever. There are many considerations. What’s generally called a “range” today is a single-unit combination of cooktop and oven.

If you’re replacing your “cooking unit” in your remodel and started shopping around, you know what’s out there. Endless miles of sleek glass cook-tops, multi-burner commercial grade gas units, built-in double wall ovens, convection, conventional, combinations, and on and on.

So, how do you decide what’s really best for you? Well, first, decide what kind of cook you, and the others cooking with you, are. Now is the time to dream, you know.

DID YOU KNOW …

• You could have a gas cooktop and an electric oven. If you have gas to your house, you have the option of having a gas cooktop and a built-in wall fireplace/microwave/double electric oven combination if you like! And if you don’t have gas in your home, and there’s gas at your curb, call the gas company and ask them to come and talk to you about running a line to your house. They may do itfor free if they see you’re going to use a bunch of gas appliances. By the way, many chefs like gas cooktops and ranges because they offer more precise control.

• The easiest cooking unit to put in your remodel is a slide-in range. There are three kinds of “all-in-ones” available: slide-indrop-in and free-standing. Slide-in ranges, as the name implies, slide in to the opening (usually 30″) in the lower cabinets. They’re hard-wired today (meaning an electrician is needed to install) and run off a dedicated 220 volt breaker. Drop-ins are the same as slide-ins except they are built in about 10″ off the floor. Free-standing ranges can either be slid in or stand alone and, if there’s a 220V outlet already there, don’t need the services of an electrician.

• Cooktops and ovens come in widths of 30″, 36″ and 48″. Most residential units are 30″ wide by 22″ deep, but you can order many of the styles either 36″ or 48″. Unless you’re a pro, I’d stick with the standard items, though. There’s quite a range (no pun intended) of styles and options out there.

• There is a difference between a free-standing and a slide-in range. A slide-in is constructed so that the cooktop overlaps the counter about 3/4″ and the sides aren’t finished. A free standing unit is finished on three sides and slides into the same space as a slide-in (usually 30 1/2″ wide) but does not overlap, so there’s a small gap between the sides and the counter. Free standing units are also, well, free standing.

• Food cooks faster in a convection oven.Convection ovens improve the efficiency of a traditional oven by circulating heated air using a fan. By moving super heated air rapidly past the food,convection ovens can actually operate at lower temps than standard conventional ovens. Also, the food cooks more quickly. Air circulation, or convection, eliminates “hot spots” and so food may bake more evenly, as well.

• Gas is less expensive than electric. Well, for now anyway. In some parts of the country right now, however, gas ismore expensive, and some places much more expensive. Generally though, gas is cheaper. If you have gas to your home, give some thought to this:Gas is better for the stove top. You have more control with the heat. Electricity is better for the oven. You get more even cooking and a better broil. A few manufacturers make dual-fuel units that use gas for the top and electric for the oven. A little spendy right now, though.

If you like this idea, think about buying a gas cooktop and separate electric oven … and hey, why not build them into your new kitchen island?

Kitchen Range

Before the 18th century, people cooked over open wood fueled fires in the middle of the floor or on very low masonry constructions. Cooking was done mainly in cauldrons hung above the fire or

Kitchen Range

placed on trivets, which were metal tripods used to raise and lower the pots. The heat was regulated by placing the cauldron higher or lower above the fire.

As you may have guessed, having an open fire on the floor in the middle of a room is dangerous, smokey, and the heat output is not very good. In the Middle Ages, waist-high brick hearths and the first chimneys appeared. At least now, cooks no longer had to kneel or sit to make a hot dinner.

Attempts were continually being made to more effectively enclose the fire and to make it more and more efficient. One of the earliest was the fire chamber where the fire was enclosed on three sides by brick or stone walls and then covered by an iron plate. A change in the kitchenware used for cooking was now needed to accommodate this new design. In comes flat-bottomed pots (instead of cauldrons) and pans with handles. The rest, as they say, is history.

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