The last kitchen cleaner you’ll ever buy

If Sisyphus existed in modern times, his eternal punishment would be achieving a clean stovetop. Because it’s almost impossible.

If your stove top is white, you can never quite remove every last discoloration. If you’re cleaning a glass top stove, you’ll rue the day you ever overboiled a pot or cooked atop existing food residue. Black glass top ranges seem to attract dust every night.

Miracle in a sponge.

I’ve blogged previously about how to a clean stove top using Barkeepers Friend and a razor blade, but if you could only buy one tool, make it the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or (if you’re cheap like me) its generic copycats.

Made of melamine foam, whose tiny particles act like extra-fine sandpaper when moistened, magic erasers do as named and erase otherwise persistent stains from hard surfaces. You might want to test a small area if you’re nervous about scratches, but I’ve never run into any problems.

I use mine to remove hardened food the discoloration around the burners on my white gas range, but it multitasks in my porcelain sink and especially on shower tile soap scum and grout mildew.

Am I missing anything? I bet there are tons of creative uses for these.

What Is An Induction Cooktop?

Gas or electric? Home cooks everywhere debate this age old question. They like the speed of electric, but the control and responsiveness of gas. But what if you could get all the good qualities of gas and electric cooking in one? Well you can. It’s called induction.

How Does Induction Work?

Instead of using an electric or gas-heated element, induction cooktops use electric currents to heat pots and pans directly through magnetic induction. If you want to get more technical, the electric current passes through a coiled copper wire under the cooking surface, creating the magnetic current. This only works with magnetic cookware, such as cast iron or stainless steel. To know if your cookware would work with induction, try sticking a magnet to the bottom.

Induction Cooktop Benefits

What do you lose with induction? All the wasteful energy loss. Cooking with induction is 70% more efficient than gas and 20% more efficient than electric. Because the heat is direct, your pots and pans heat up quicker. In fact, boiling is 50 percent faster with induction than electric cooktops. Home cooks appreciate the precise temperature control induction provides.

Cleanup is easier  because spills don’t burn onto the surface. You can stick a hundred-dollar bill between an induction burner element and a pot of boiling water without worry. This also makes induction cooktops popular choices for kid- and pet-safe kitchens.

Due to its recent rise in popularity (induction has been around since the ’70s but only took off recently), brands now make induction ranges in addition to induction cooktops. We can’t wait to see more people delight in the ability to cook like they’re using gas without the cost and hassle of switching from electric.

Featured image via Frigidaire

Convection oven baking tips

.christmas snowflake food

It's cookie season. Do you need to brush up on your convection baking knowledge?

 

Are you taking full advantage of your convection oven (if you don’t know what that is, read What is convection?)?

You probably already know to decrease your oven temperature 25 degrees and decrease the bake time about 25 percent for convection oven vs. conventional oven.

But if you already know how to use convection cooking — and you probably do if you partake in holiday baking and cookie exchanges — I bet you’ll still learn something from Dacor’s convection oven baking tips (PDF).

Also, if if your convection oven cooking times seem to be longer now than when you first bought your convection oven, perhaps you need to clean your convection filter.

In a convection oven, the fan draws air through the filter. So especially if you do a lot of roasting,  grease particles will stick to the filter and could obstruct the airflow. Check your use and care manual for instructions on how to clean your filter. Some, like Dacor convection oven filter, are dishwasher safe.

Cleaning tips: How to clean a stove

Not sure how to regain a clean stove after all that Thanksgiving cooking? Cleaning stove tops can be a pain, but consider that dirty cooking surfaces don’t reflect heat as well, meaning that you waste energy and compromise performance when using a messy stove.

Instead, try these useful stove cleaning tips that have worked for me.

When cleaning a smooth top stove, first use a razor blade (yes, I’m serious) to gently scrape off any burnt on food residue. Sometimes smooth top stoves burners discolor with time, but I’ve found that Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works well to fade dark stains. Apply cooktop cleaner (which we sell for about $5 at all Warners’ Stellian stores) with a soft rag or paper towel for general cleaning. Cooktop cleaner also gives a nice, smooth finish to glass- and ceran-top stoves you can’t get from soap and water, sorry!

To clean a gas stove top — like I have at home — remove all grates and burner caps to the sink and simply use soap and water to clean. I scrub off all the food residue that ends up around the burners by sprinkling on some Barkeeper’s Friend and rubbing it off with a moistened towel. Again, the discolorations (I have a white stove) are removed by Magic Eraser and some elbow grease.

The most important tip I have for cleaning gas stoves, though, is properly replacing the now-clean burner caps, as misplacement could cause stove lighting issues.

Any other good tips on how to clean a stove top?

How To Check Oven Temperature

turkey in oven

Before you trust your oven to your family’s turkey and pie this Thanksgiving, make sure the oven heats to the correct temperature.

Some manufacturers say that using an oven thermometer (available at most hardware stores) isn’t accurate because once the door opens, the temperature changes. However, it’s a better measure than trying to decipher how far off your oven is by experimenting on baked goods or other methods.

First, check your thermometer’s accuracy by sticking it in boiling water for a minute. Boiling temperature is 212 degrees F, so if that’s not what your thermometer reads, note the difference.

Next, put your thermometer in the oven and select 350 degrees. Check the thermometer after about 20 minutes. If it doesn’t read 350 degrees (after factoring any difference you found in step one), you know whether your oven temperature runs high or low and how many degrees.

If you were smart enough – or organized enough – to save your Use & Care manual, your manufacturer might include instructions on how to calibrate your oven so that the temperature settings can be adjusted for accuracy. Otherwise, just make a mental note and select a 355 degrees (for instance) next time a recipe calls for 350.

Many ovens now come with built-in temperature probes, which offer another great way to ensure your meat cooks perfectly.

And the best way to ensure consistent temperature in your oven is to minimize opening the door by using your oven light. Having the oven door open for just seconds can decrease the temperature by 25 degrees!