Advances in oven technology have resulted in improvements in the way food is cooked, and the amount of time and energy expended. Consumers appreciate the modular appeal of various types of ovens and warming drawers that can be customized to fit their schedules and cooking styles.
Thermador Conventional Ovens. Traditionally, most U.S. homes have modern conventional ovens. Conventional ovens cook with heat, using either gas or electricity. Because air is not forced throughout the oven on a constant basis with the aid of a fan, heat circulation can become blocked by pots and pans, which leads to unevenly cooked food, particularly if both racks are in use. Food on the top rack will cook faster as heat rises and gets trapped at the top of the oven.
Convection Cooking. Convection ovens use a fan typically at the back of the oven to circulate air around the food being cooked. Because the heated air is constantly moved around the food, a convection oven cooks food more thoroughly and about 20 percent faster than a conventional oven at about 20 percent lower temperatures. With consistent air circulation, food will cook at the same rate regardless of its placement in the oven. Typically the province of the restaurant industry, convection ovens − and those that switch to a convection mode on request − are becoming more popular in residential kitchens. Sophisticated convection ovens for home cooks use a baffle system to more precisely direct the heat toward the food, resulting in even faster more even cooking than convection ovens that use fans.
Speedcooking Ovens. Speedcooking ovens are aimed at busy professionals, particularly dual-income families working long hours that have no time for home cooking. Because they can deliver savory, nutritious meals at a fraction of the time of conventional ovens, speedcooking ovens not only offer energy efficiency benefits, but they add to the quality of life and support the health and well being of time-pressed consumers.
The microwave was long considered to be the leader in terms of cooking and heating convenience, even though the food quality was missing. Speedcooking technology combines microwave technology with other heating systems − and manufacturers say the latest models cook food up to 50 percent faster than conventional ovens while retaining savory results. Speedcooking ovens deliver a roast chicken in 20 minutes, a rack of lamb in seven, and cookies in less than two minutes.
While combination microwave convection ovens have been around for decades, the difference is that these next generation ovens use conventional heating, convection blowers, halogen or quartz bulbs as the primary heat source. Microwaves just speed up the process. One scenario operates as follows: high-speed blowers shoot air into the oven from holes at the top and bottom and recirculate it through holes in the back wall. Microwaves are introduced from behind the top of the ceramic oven ceiling where a dual-purpose, metal baffle mixes both the microwaves and the air streams to hit the food at specified angles. Improvements in convection technology involving two way vertical convection that channels air directly onto the food enables the newest models to lower cooking times by 75 percent vs comparable older versions which averaged cooking times 50 percent faster than conventional ovens.
Higher end models have automatic conversion functions − all that is needed is to put the food in the oven, set the time for conventional cooking, and it is automatically adjusted to the proper speedcooking equivalent. Controls have pre-programmed recipes geared to the correct time and temperature for many standard dishes. The technology comes packaged in a variety of forms, from countertop, to over-the-range to a double built-in wall oven over a standard thermal or convection oven. The largest models offer more than 4 cubic feet of capacity and accommodate standard cookware, though many models are significantly smaller and require special microwave-safe cooking utensils and turntables.
High Design and High Performance Today’s kitchen appliances have a luxury appeal. But the truth is they are also high performance machines that making cooking easier and faster and increase the safety, shelf life and quality of food. The result is a more healthful life style for consumers and energy efficiency that has a positive impact on the environment and the move toward carbon-neutral living.
Cooking is the application of heat to food. Indoor cooking is almost entirely done either in an oven or on a cooktop, and is broadly divided into gas and electric types. Consumers are interested in appliances that deliver gourmet results, maximum nutrition with time savings at the right price points. There are no Energy Star ratings applicable to cooking appliances, though manufacturers do consider energy efficiency a competitive advantage, and are the prime movers in the new designs, materials and processes that will boost energy efficiency while reducing embodied energy over the life cycle of the product.
Design Flexibility with Cooktops
Because they can be installed on an island or other location with ample counter space, cooktops afford design flexibility. Consumers appreciate their modularity, which allows placement of interchangeable elements including griddles, steamers, woks, rotisseries, and deep fryers that can be switched at will. Many cooktops also incorporate smart features that can select proper cooking times and temperatures for various foods. Offered in gas, electric, and dual fuel and in ceramic glass, porcelaincoated steel, or stainless steel today’s cooktops may be designed with integrated downdraft ventilation, varying burner placement, and front or side controls. For serious cooks, the space between burners, grate size, and configuration are important factors. For example, those who routinely cook with large pots and pans would do better with four widely spaced burners than five or six crowded together.
Gas. Thermador Gas cooktops are the choice of many serious cooks. Gas burners produce heat instantly, and can be easily controlled to change the flame quickly between low and high heat. When gas burners are turned off, the heat stops and so does the cooking. Improving on the traditional gas ring burner are star-shaped burners that distribute heat more evenly from the center of the pan to its edges. The perimeter of a star-shaped burner can be up to 56 percent greater than a round burner of the same diameter, which allows for more flame ports and thus better flame spread and reduced cold spots. With star burners boil times are faster too, with a range of from over 24 minutes to 12 minutes and 40 seconds to boil four quarts of water. When specifying a gas cooktop, the BTU output is a prime consideration − both maximum and minimum levels. One of today’s biggest cooking trends is professional-style stoves for the home, with burners that boast large BTU outputs. But burners that put out high BTUs have large holes, or ports, to dispense the flames − and those holes are often too big to maintain combustion when turned down to simmer. Manufacturers have sought to overcome this challenge by burner-within-a-burner system or placing smaller burners that can cycle on and off at a low flame alongside the higher BTU burners. Users who want the widest range of cooking options will want star-shaped burners with both high and low BTU output (200 BTU/hour to 18,000 BTU/ hour is about the extent of the range), with simmer systems to control temperature via electronics that cycle the burner on and off to maintain temperatures as low as 100 degrees F that can simmer delicate sauces or keep food warm without scorching and the need for constant stirring.