Farmhouse ranges have become technologically advanced in their cooking ability. Devon Home discovers what is raising temperatures in food preparation
Is gas your chosen means of cooking, or an induction hob or electric range perhaps? There are many styles of range and heat source to help you feed the family, depending on your cooking style and requirements.
The large range is still proving very popular and lends itself to Devon’s period properties. Yet the modern electric ranges are compatible with any house style, and are a practical alternative whilst still offering the scale of cooking area. Annie Austen, owner of the Stove Centre in South Molton, believes that the traditional range cookers are timeless: “Free-standing range cookers remain the most versatile option for most kitchens, and the shape and size is not dictated by the cabinet work.”
Size-wise, it seems that bigger is most definitely better, for practicality reasons. Most customers require at least two good-sized ovens, plus grill, as the standard configuration. Within those ovens, there are also choices to be made. “Multi-function ovens offer a variety of different cooking methods within the same oven, selected at the turn of a dial,” says Annie.
The warming oven, or drawer, as seen in a traditional Aga, is still a feature in modern ranges, and the Everhot range provides the perfect facility for proving bread.
When it comes to fuel, decisions have to be made, dependent on location, ease-of-use, and practicality. Induction hobs are popular in more remote areas that do not have mains gas, although lpg (liquid petroleum gas) and ceramic halogen are also available.
Alix Eltringham, Marketing Manager for ESSE, which are stocked at Rangemoors and Hearth & Cook in Exeter, finds that fuel choices are very personal: “We offer a variety of wood, gas, multi-fuel, oil and electric range cooker models, and our Ironheart wood-burning model sells well overseas.”
Annie finds that customers also request combination fuels: “Some of the larger range cookers are able to offer both electric induction and gas hobs on the same cooker.” Electric ovens with gas hob seem to be the most popular choice, but a simple induction hob is growing in popularity. Annie sells both Lacanche and Ilve ranges, with options to have one gas and one electric oven.
Greener energy can also be used to fire up the essential piece of kitchen equipment. “Many people these days have some solar pv production which they like to put to good use, and the Everhot electric range cooker is a more environmentally friendly way of cooking than its oil-fired counterparts,” says Annie.
The Everhot is more cost-effective than other electric ranges, and each oven and hot plate is independently thermostatically regulated. “The cooker also has an eco-mode, which many owners use to drop the cooker back into a slumber overnight, thus reducing running costs and fuel consumption even more, particularly if they have solar pv, which doesn’t perform in the hours of darkness,” says Annie.
If environmentally friendly fuel and cost-efficiency are important to the customer, there is an ESSE CAT gas model with catalytic convertor which cleans emissions.
“ESSE also produces a model that can fulfil all your central heating and hot water needs as well. It is capable of running several radiators and its impressive thermostatic control means that their temperature will be automatically maintained. Again it’s all about choice and efficiency,” says Alix.
The oven itself is only half of the equipment – the hob requires thought and layout design. Griddle and wok plates, and chefs’ tops (a stainless steel hotplate in the style of Teppanyaki cooking) are popular and, on larger ranges, discerning customers can even experiment with deep-fat fryers and lava-rock barbecues!
“Cooking with a wok is a very popular method, and most gas hobs provide a special burner with inner and outer rings, and a special wok support ring,” says Annie. Alix states that the traditional cast-iron hotplates and the immediate heat of induction results in quick, efficient cooking. “Cooking directly on the hob or sinking your wok directly over the Plus 1 firebox both deliver great results,” she says.
Range cookers are chosen for a variety of reasons. Annie finds that a number of her customers plump for the farmhouse-style range because of business: “Many of our customers cater for bed and breakfast visitors, and appreciate the versatility and additional features offered by a range cooker that are simply not available from built-in appliances. The build quality and the ability to put items such as the pan supports into a dishwasher are very important factors.”
It’s not just the cooker itself that provides the perfect cooking environment – the hood, or extractor fan, plays an important role in eliminating cooking smells and steam. Annie is seeing hood technology improving, with the mechanics becoming quieter as they become more efficient. Cooker hoods can be bold statements that become a feature, or they can be discreet and subtle. Annie also offers solutions if extraction is not a practical option: “A re-circulation method through charcoal filters is a popular alternative.”
However technologically advanced the oven is, it still has to look good in the overall kitchen design. Range cookers are great at injecting a pop of colour, as they are available in a variety of hues. Black remains popular, but bright colours are fighting back. “The brave like to wow their friends with the latest striking colours that we offer. Teal, dusky violet or claret add a vibrant look to a kitchen,” says Alix.
Whatever your chosen fuel, hob configuration or added extras, the range continues to be the focal point in modern-day kitchens.
“Multi-function ovens offer a variety of different cooking methods within the same oven”
There's no shortage of gadgets and accessories designed to improve your alfresco experience. Clare Hunt investigates what's on offer.
Lucy Baker-Kind gets the low-down on how to make your summer garden a show-stopper!
Clare Hunt steers us towards making the right interior colour choices for 2018
Floral, folksy, bohemian, snuggly – Clare Hunt uncovers the new season’s patterns and textiles
Ditch the plastic cutlery – it’s time to refine your al fresco dining habits, discovers Su Carroll
Sue Cade gathers tips for getting your garden into shape for the summer from some of the region’s top garden centres