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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Paul

Do you have gas?

This is one of the most common questions I get from people believe it or not. Of course, I'm talking about cook tops! As the new year started, I, along with others think about what I'm going to add/change or update in the house over the next year. One of the biggest items in your kitchen is the Cook Top/Oven. There are so many choices out there. Some houses I have cooked in have them separate and some are all one unit (called a range). It's all about the kitchen set up. Cook tops (where the "burners" are located) can be an independent unit or be combined with/on top of your oven drawers. Some can even be on opposite sides of a kitchen. Smaller kitchens usually have the combo unit for space saving purposes. Larger more spread-out kitchens many times will have them apart from each other and may even have a wall/bank of ovens!

When it comes to cook tops - there are several options and I often get questions on how they cook differently. And yes, they do have some differences. Options are Gas, Electric & Induction.

A gas stove uses natural gas and has an open flame. One of the benefits of a gas stove is they offer responsive control over heat adjustments, making them ideal when making quick adjustments for delicate dishes as well as everyday meals. The flame can be adjusted instantly, so you don’t need to wait for an electric element to heat up or cool down. The grates are removable for cleaning and they will work if the power is out in your house! The negatives are that they are an open flame so there is more danger in making sure that the flame is lit. If the power is out, the igniter may not work, so it will not spark to light the burner. If you turn the knob and the burner is not lit, gas will still emit from them and become a different danger in your home. Also having an open flame can ignite alcohol (think flambe) and could potentially catch something on fire or catch you off guard. Finally, cleaning can be a pain if there is a boil over or food gets below the removable grates.

An electric stove is heated by electricity and the newer models generally have a ceramic glass top. Older models had a "coil" that would heat up and would be exposed. Basically, it's a metal coil that heats up, and with newer models, you can many times adjust to your pot size which is a plus. Many have warning lights that tell you that the top is on and/or is hot and can even be locked out to avoid it being turned on by someone who shouldn't be turning them on. A great safety feature! Another positive is that heat up is very fast, so you can get your pot/pan up to heat quickly. With the glass top, it makes clean up really easy. Some of the down sides are that cool down is really slow, so you can't just leave your pot on the burner if you want it to cool down quickly, you will need to move it off. The cooking surface also stays very hot for much longer as well. Because of the glass top, you could scratch the surface if you slide or shake the pan. A real culinary act! If the power is out, you are not cooking.

Induction, similar to electric in many ways as in glass top, heating up quickly, adjusting to pot size, easy clean up and negatives as glass top, potential to scratch and won't work if the power is out. The biggest difference is how it works, it uses electromagnetism to turn cookware into its own heat source. Induction technology transfers energy directly into magnetic cookware for fast cooking. This allows for a rapid rise or drop in temperature and, because the cooking surface stays relatively cool, spills are less likely to bake onto it. Now the big negatives - you need special cookware to use this technology. Your pans need to have a steel bottom and will not work with copper or aluminum cookware. And sometimes, even certain cookware will not work because they can be what I call "fussy". If you remove the pot/pan from the element, it will automatically shut off in most of the new models. And both electric and induction, you can't flambe without a lighter.

So what do I use - All of them! I have every kind in my clients homes. In my own home I have a gas range with two ovens. I also have a counter top oven from Breville called the Smart Oven.

I love this oven more than my big oven for MANY reasons. It's small and can do amazing things. It can toast, bagel mode, bake, roast, broil, pizza mode, cookie mode, reheat mode, warm mode, air fry, slow cook and has two different convection settings. It also will fit a 9 x 11 baking dish! It heats up really fast with radiant heating and I use it more than my larger ovens.

So if you are looking to invest in a new oven/cook top. Go with what you know how to cook on. Each have the pluses and minuses. Would love to hear what you think! Happy Cooking!

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