FOR PURE cussedness there is nothing quite like a worn-out range with an oven that burns the bottom crust and produces a top of anaemic paleness. Or one that blackens all the biscuits in one corner or throws as much heat into the kitchen as it holds behind the door, or—but you know all about it if you’ve ever struggled with one.
On the other hand, nothing could be more efficient than the up-to-date ranges on the market. And you are assured of satisfaction if you choose the product of a reliable manufacturer; provided, of course, that the size is suited to your requirements and that it has all the features you consider necessary to your happiness.
Buying a new stove is not an everyday affair. It lasts a long time and, therefore, the selection is a matter for much thought and discrimination. No wise woman will make such a weighty decision without studying the various characteristics of different makes and different models and then bringing her judgment to bear.
What should we look for when we go shopping for this most important item of kitchen equipment? In the first place, its general appearance. Although that is perhaps not of quite such consequence as its performance, you want one of good simple lines and attractive finish, in harmony with the modem idea of beauty as well as efficiency in the kitchen. There is variety of style, color and design, and you can find a finish to suit you no matter how your taste may run. You will note, too, that the smooth hard surface, concealed bolt and screw heads, the rounded comers and simplicity of the better stoves, all make them easy to keep clean—a point which appeals to a tidy soul.
—Photo courtesy Canadian Genera] Electric Co., Ltd.
—Photo courtesy Northern Electric Co., Ltd.
Where is the oven—at the side, underneath or above the cooking surface? The side oven is usually preferable because it is at a convenient height to eliminate stooping and allows you to see into it better. Do you want it at the right or the left-hand side? That depends where the light falls. You can have it in either location, just as you prefer.
If you must economize on space you may have to select a model with the oven directly below the top element. Or where every inch counts, as in the tiny kitchenette, the model is sometimes built into a unit with drawers or cupboards below and the oven swung about ten or twelve inches above the top. For the ordinary' home kitchen, however, choose one with a side location where such is possible.
Good Insulation Necessary
'T'HIS MATTER of size is important. Don’t buy one so big it crowds out other necessary pieces of equipment, but be certain that it is big enough to look after all your culinary needs—to take care of the family meals and the special demands of “company.” Guests mean extra cooking, and if you entertain frequently take this point into consideration. If you have a young family growing up, your home may be the centre for the “gang” in a few years and you know what that means in the way of “eats.”
You want rigidity, good materials and sturdy construction in a range. It isn’t necessary to know all about metals and wiring and other technical points, but you can notice if it is built to last without getting wobbly, if there are few seams and if the necessary joins are clean and neat, if the doors fit tightly and if other important little details are right. Look in the oven and see if it is smooth, hard and seamless, with rounded comers and
—Photo courtesy Moffats, Ltd.
non-rustable finish. Notice the fit of removable parts and, of course, consider its size.
Good insulation is essential to the highest efficiency. It prevents the loss of heat and assures a cool kitchen in which to do your work. Make some enquiries about that to be sure the models you are considering are well insulated.
The broiler, too, and the warming oven or storage drawer should not escape attention, for these are important features to some housekeepers.
Ease and Cleanliness
P-TO-DATE ELECTRIC ranges heat much faster than the older models of a few years ago. Most of the new ones have one or two high sj)eed elements for rapid heating. Of course, after the elements are hot. cooking goes on at the same rate as with any other fuel in common use. Steady, even temperature is one of the advantages of electricity. Other points in its favor are the ease with which it is regulated and cleanliness.
You have the choice of open or dosed elements and. indeed, that is a matter of individual preference. Both types are satisfactory; the open elements heat rather more quickly, and the closed retain the heat a little longer. Take whichever you prefer.
Almost all switches nowadays are reciprocating or reversible so that you may turn them either way. A feature of one product is a well cooker, which may take the place of one element and be used for such dishes as soups, stews, cereals and anything requiring long, slow crooking. The cooker is fitted with a set of utensils in which two or three foods may be cooked at one time with the same current.
Some higher-priced ranges are equipped with a heat regulator and automatic timer, which eliminate guesswork and watching, and increase our chances for successful baking. Or you can sometimes buy these as extras and have them attached. Their convenience repays us amply for the small additional cost and they last as long as the range itself.
After you choose your new stove and have it set up in your kitchen you must take care of it—keep it clean and in good repair—if you expect full satisfaction from it. Wipe off the top and the inside of the oven after using it. Keep the coils of the open element free of crumbs and burned food, using a small soft brush for the purpose. Make use of the fact that a well-insulated, properly constructed oven retains heat for a considerable time. For instance, if you are cooking a roast or some other dish you may turn off the heat before it is done and the stored heat will complete the cooking.
If you have the oven on for one thing, plan to cook other foods at the same time. A whole meal can be cooked thus, saving time, energy and heat. After using the oven, leave the door open a few minutes to air thoroughly. Don’t waste current by allowing vegetables to boil furiously during the entire cooking; turn the switch to medium or low because gentle boiling is as rapid as fast boiling. Water reaches a temperature of only 212 degrees Fahrenheit and all you get for your extra fuel is more steam in your kitchen. It is best to use flat-bottomed pots and pans which fit the units in order to get full use of the heat. Operating costs have been kept low by good management.
Editor's Note—Gas and other equipment will be discussed in a subsequent article.
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.