Ovens come in many varieties. When purchasing an oven, consider the heat distribution and the heat energy sources.
Conventional Oven: Just as stoves have electric ranges and gas ranges, ovens also offer these options. A conventional oven contains a natural gas or electric heat source at the bottom. They heat from bottom to top, which may result in uneven cooking. Many conventional ovens also include a separate compartment in the top for broiling.
Convection Ovens: Convection ovens use a fan and exhaust system to circulate the hot air inside the unit. Convection cooking allows for more even temperature distribution and helps food become crispy on the outside and stay juicy on the inside. Most recipes have conventional ovens in mind, so you may need to adjust them for a convection oven, since they cook faster. To adjust a recipe, you can reduce the temperature by 25 degrees or cut the cooking time by 25 percent.
Heat Energy Sources
Gas: Gas ovens heat food quickly and provide easy temperature control, but they also produce more humidity and have fluctuating temperatures. This may result in hot and cold spots in your food or soggy food.
Electric: An electric oven costs more than a gas oven but produces drier heat and more temperature control. This lets your food get crispy; perfect for roasting.
Steam: Instead of heating elements, steam ovens use a water container and boiler space that creates steam to cook the food. Think of it like cooking sous vide without the water bath. However, steam cooking doesn’t allow food to get crispy, so food that requires browning needs a different method. Some units include a convection setting to switch between convection and steam cooking.
Smaller than a wall oven, a countertop oven sits on your countertop and plugs into a standard 120V outlet. Since they don’t require any installation, you can bring them from place to place . This works well for a vacation home or RV. Countertop ovens resemble toaster ovens, but instead of toasting food, they offer features found in a conventional oven, such as baking and broiling settings. They also may include more specialized modes, such as dehydrating or air frying.
Steam cooking provides many advantages over baking or other methods. Steam cooking locks in moisture, so you don’t have to add extra oils or fats. It also helps retain the vitamins and minerals, keeping the food healthier and more flavorful. This method also works great to reheat leftovers without worrying about your food drying out. Steamed food also cooks faster than other methods.
Descaling refers to a cleaning process for devices that use steam, such as a steam oven or coffee maker. Steam causes buildup of lime deposits, so units that use steam require cleaning every 6 to 18 months, depending on frequency of use. Keep in mind that descaling does not clean the interior of the unit, but instead it removes buildup of mineral deposits from mechanical parts such as the boiler and water line. If you don’t regularly clean your unit, the buildup will cause damage to your unit. Many steam units include a descaling mode so you don’t have to manually descale the unit.