When most people learn to cook, they learn recipes and knife techniques, but they don’t learn the little tricks that make using appliances more efficient. They follow what’s written in the recipe or maybe start to experiment on their own — but appliance use follows what they’ve seen their parents do.
Ranges are easy to use. Yet they have little quirks that can make cooking so much simpler and faster. If you’ve been having trouble with your range because it doesn’t seem to cook efficiently, it could be because you’re not quite using it totally correctly. There’s no shame in that if you were never taught what to do. Here’s a rundown of some issues that could be tripping up your recipes.
Gas Burners Are Different Sizes for a Reason
On a gas stove, the small burner is not for small pans! It’s for pans that need a low heat, like a prolonged simmer. If you’ve been matching burner and pan size, you’re not alone; this is something that people do naturally. But it’s the flame size that should match the pan diameter for efficient energy use.
Preheating Does Have a Purpose
If you missed the latest cooking revelation on the internet, it’s that you don’t always have to use the preheating function. However, sometimes you still do. Preheating may not always be necessary, but if you’re baking anything with yeast, eggs, or any type of leavener, you need to preheat.
Preheating ensures that the food you place in the oven is exposed to the heat it needs right away. The gradual warmup the food would get without preheating would allow ingredients to set and cook prematurely, before they were fully ready.
The Oven Thermostat Can Be off by Several Degrees
It is not unusual for oven thermostats to be off by several degrees. In other words, when you set the thermostat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, the actual temperature inside the oven may be 300 or 350 degrees Fahrenheit. That affects your cooking.
When you get a new oven, test the temperature by placing an oven thermometer inside and heating the oven to something like 325 degrees Fahrenheit. After the oven is done preheating and the flames have turned off or the elements have started to fade, look at the thermometer. If it is off by up to 25 degrees either way, you can compensate for that in cooking (for example, you can turn the temperature dial to 350 instead of 325 if the oven warms to 25 degrees less than what’s on the dial).
If the oven temperature is off by more than 25 degrees, you can either re-calibrate the oven or replace the thermostat. A repair service can do this for you.
Everything You Knew About Aluminum Foil Is Wrong
Okay, not everything you know is wrong. But most people have at one point or another put a layer of aluminum foil on their stove-burner drip pans or at the bottom of the oven. And it’s understandable; foil is easier to remove than burned food is to scrub off. Yet you shouldn’t use it like this.
The problem is that foil melts. Simply exposing it to heat isn’t enough for this to happen, but those drip pans and oven bottom are close enough to the elements that the heat is intense enough for foil to melt.
Foil can also reflect that heat right back onto the element and trap heat next to the pan. Both can result in damage. Cleaning drip pans is not as hard as it looks if you clean off burned food soon after it happens (let the pan cool a bit so you can handle it, and then go to town).
If none of these seem to improve cooking times and quality, call Capital City Appliance Service, Inc. Have a repair technician inspect the appliance and make necessary adjustments. A working range is essential if you want to level up your cooking skills.