Helpful Guides & Tips

  • Should you Consider a Steam Oven?

    The oven is, arguably, the most important kitchen appliance you will ever purchase so it has to be able to do exactly what you want it to do, in the exact way you want it. The steam oven is an alternative method of cooking food, one which many agree is far healthier than its counterparts and possesses the ability to cook food faster and in a more effective manner, surely putting it heads and shoulders above the rest of its competition.

    There are a selection of pros and cons associated with the steam oven but it seems prudent to discover just what it is first. The steam oven basically consists of a removable water tank which uses water vapour to cook the food. As you might imagine, they cook at higher temperatures than a conventional oven to ensure you're getting the best results.

    Advantages

    Primarily, it's a better cooking experience as this method of cooking helps to retain flavours and textures of the food within. This is especially true with vegetables as fewer nutrients and vitamins are lost during the process. With this in mind, it's also a healthier method of oven-cooking and recommended for those seeking to really keep the minerals present in their food.

    Those looking to keep a clean, healthy kitchen and oven will be in luck as it's far easier to keep a steam oven in check compared to an oily, greasy conventional oven. They also avoid problems when it comes to spillages and spattering, something usually associated with conventional ovens.

    Whilst the oven may not brown foods, it does mean that vegetables keep their natural, healthy and fresh appearance, equating to a much more appealing meal. This is effective and, importantly, doesn't require any special equipment to help it work, another perk of the steam oven. The price is not significantly large as cooks don't need to invest in anything specific other than perhaps the steam basket, making it a cost-effective alternative as well.

    Disadvantages

    Whilst there's a lot to be said for the way the steam oven works, some people just don't want to cook like this. Some may like to add oil and fat to their food for that addictive flavour, not to mention its part of a balanced diet. The steam is also incredibly hot and you will have to wait a while before diving in to bring out the dish as the steam can come rushing out and cause burns.

    Perhaps the number one disadvantage of the steam oven is that it cannot brown food, can't make them crispy, essentially limiting the use of the oven for those wishing to bake desserts, vegetables and fish dishes. The browning process also adds imperative flavour and those using a steam oven will miss out on that process.

    Meats can also suffer from the steam oven as the process means that it won't brown or crisp which can lead to some unappealing meals, although the meat will retain more moisture and stay succulent. Whilst this shouldn't prevent users from cooking foods such as meats, fish, potatoes and desserts in the oven, it may be best to search for certain types of steam ovens that come with a combination method in which the food is cooked with steam and then browned by warm and dry heat before being served.

    Essentially, the steam oven can cook anything and it's up to the user what they cook and how they cook it. The main benefit of the oven is that it is healthier and will keep those nutrients packed right into the food, offering a healthy, delicious meal devoid of any extra calories.

  • A Guide to Induction Hobs

    Are you thinking of upgrading or replacing your old hob? Whether you're currently using a gas, electric or halogen hob, there's another option you should consider: induction hobs.

    What's an induction hob?

    The induction hob is becoming more and more visible as a choice in top kitchen showrooms. Although the technology behind them isn't new (they've been around in restaurants since the late 80s), it's only recently that home users have started to enjoy the benefits of an induction hob.

    An induction hob makes use of electromagnetic energy rather than a conventional heat source - so the hob heats up your pan or wok, but the hob itself doesn't get hot at the same time (a bit like a microwave).

    Why should I consider an induction hob?

    Induction hobs are cleaner, safer and greener than any of the more traditional options (gas, electric or halogen).

    Because the electromagnetic technology means the hob surface itself doesn't directly heat up, an induction hob is far less likely to cause accidental burns (a big bonus for those with young children) - and there's no naked flame as you'd get with a gas ring. Additionally, induction hobs automatically cut out if your pan boils dry, reducing fire risk.

    As with an electric hob, the actual working equipment of an induction hob lies beneath a wipe-clean toughened glass panel, making these hobs easy to clean. Unlike an electric hob, because the hob surface doesn't physically heat up, any spills from boiled-over pans won't sizzle and stick to the cold hob, saving you a messy clean-up job.

    Finally, induction hobs are considerably more energy efficient than any of the competing options. Because the hob itself doesn't need to be warmed, no energy is wasted just heating up the air, and the automatic cut-out feature eliminates even more waste. Induction hobs are also low voltage, while still heating up and cooling down faster than a less efficient gas or electric hob.

    Are there any downsides?

    The big advantages of an induction hob are obvious, but as with any new technology, there are some possible drawbacks which you'll need to weigh up when deciding if an induction hob is right for you.

    For starters, induction hobs aren't particularly quiet; unlike a virtually silent electric hob, an induction hob can be very noisy, which isn't a problem in a busy commercial kitchen (or a busy house!), but which might be an issue if peace and quiet are at a premium.

    You'll also likely need to invest in some new cookware, as induction hobs only work with iron-based pots and pans. Although these can be picked up relatively cheaply, it's still something you'll have to factor in. Some customers have had success using special cast-iron mats which sit between the hob and the pan base.

    The biggest factor to be borne in mind is the cost. Induction hobs are more expensive than more traditional options, both to buy and to have installed (a qualified electrician will need to fit an induction hob.) However, prices are continuing to fall, and the one-off cost of purchase and installation needs to be set against the potential savings on energy bills over the life of the hob; many customers have reported actually saving money in the long term.

    Choosing the right induction hob

    Once you've decided an induction hob is right for your kitchen, the next step is to do some homework. Most big-name brands now offer induction hobs, and any good appliance showroom will be able to show you a selection to match your needs (and your budget!) Go in with an idea of what key features you're looking for, and the sales assistant will be able to find something that meets your requirements.

  • A Buyers Guide to Hobs

    Whatever kind of cook you are, you're likely to use your hob for every meal you prepare, from steaming the veg ready for a large family roast to heating some soup for a bit of quick comfort.

    With such a variety of functions and types to choose from, it can be difficult to know which hob and features to choose to enhance your cooking experience, so have a look through our simple guide to help discover what suits your cooking style...

    Conventional Gas Hobs

    Gas hobs are the most traditional way to cook over an open flame. They are hugely popular, thanks in large part to their instant responsiveness and the high speed cooking they offer, although this isn't to say that you can't choose a gentle flame for simmering or slow warming. The flame is easily controlled and visible, so you will know exactly how powerful your chosen heat is, which is why many chefs refuse to cook on anything else!

    Usually, a gas hob will have 4 rings, 1 small/economy burners, 2 medium sized rings for general cooking and one larger/rapid burner ideal for fast cooking, larger pans and boiling water quickly. If you choose a gas hob, one of the things to look for is chunky pan supports top give your pans more stability.

    Electric Induction Hobs

    Induction hobs are renowned for being the most energy efficient available. They use electromagnets in the cooking zones so they only heat up when you place the right sized, stainless steel, flat based pan on them. The magnetic characteristics used to create heat mean only the actual rings get warm, and the heat is transferred straight to the pan, so no energy is wasted. It also means they heat up, cook and cool down quickly for a more efficient cooking experience.

    One of the other major draws for induction hobs is that they are very easy to wipe clean, and, because they don't get too hot, they won’t burn food that falls on them during cooking. But remember, you may have to replace your pans to ensure you have pans that are the right size for the burners and the right material to react with the magnetic hob!

    Electric Ceramic Hob

    There's a ceramic hob for all budgets, ranging from the affordable radiant heat hobs that are simply coiled metal elements under glass that heat up, to the more expensive halogen hobs that contain a bulb, a tungsten element and halogen gas under a glass cooking surface. There's also a middle ground with a semi halogen, radiant hob, so the choice is yours!

    These glass ceramic hobs often come with timers, sensors and touch controls, depending on the model you choose, so you can tailor your cooking experience to suit your cooking style and requirements.

    Other Features

    There are a whole host of other things to consider, which will depend greatly on your lifestyle and cooking habits, such as:

    Child Locks – these allow you to set a temperature and lock it, which then stops little fingers fiddling with the controls and accidently putting the heat up or down!

    Residual Heat Indicators – these can be essential for ceramic hobs that may stay warm for a while after they are turned off, as they will hopefully remind you not to touch the hot plates!

    Timers – depending on the model you choose, you can get simple timers which sound after a certain amount of time to remind you to attend to your cooking, or you can get more advanced timers that will turn off the hob after a certain amount of time.

    Wok Burners – these larger rings with hefty pan supports are ideal for supporting large woks and providing the intense heat needed to cook crunchy stir-fries!

    Griddles – if you like the idea of healthy griddle cooking, make sure you choose a hob with compatible burners - many even come with removable griddles for your convenience.

  • A Buyers Guide to Range Cookers

    Range cookers are ideal if you cook for a big family, cook a lot, or just enjoy a greater degree of flexibility that comes with the huge array of cooking options.

    Types and Sizes

    Before choosing which range cooker to buy there are few things you need to decide on, the first being the size of your range cooker. With a huge variety of quality manufacturers to choose from, including Belling, Rangemaster, AGA, Britannia and Stoves, you can be sure that there’s a range cooker somewhere that will fit in the space in your kitchen.

    Most types range from 80cm to 150cm, but you must also consider getting it into your kitchen and manoeuvring it into position, as well as the amount of space you need to keep around it to avoid potential hazards. And don’t forget to check which way and how far the doors open, so you don’t end up with an oven you can’t get into!

    Accessories

    One of the biggest benefits of having a range cooker is the wide array of cooking options you can choose from. Larger range cookers usually comprise of at least two ovens and six hob burners, as well as a grill, but depending on the make and model there are usually a whole range of extras you can choose from, such as:

    • Slow cooker
    • Storage drawer
    • Fan oven
    • Wok burner
    • Fish burner
    • Rotisseries
    • Hot plates
    • Griddle

    Fuel types

    There are many aesthetic styles to choose from, from sleek, stainless steel contemporary range cookers to traditional, cream, farmhouse style range cookers. Another important consideration is the type of fuel you choose for your range cooker. Usually range cookers are dual fuel so you get the best of both worlds with easily controlled electrical and fan ovens and a gas hob for consistent, high temperatures.

    There is also the option for fully gas fueled cookers and full electrical cookers with hot plate hobs, so even if you don’t have a gas supply in your kitchen, you can still have a beautiful and functional range cooker.

    Installation

    Installing a range cooker can be a little more complex than a standard cooker. Not only are there different fuel connections to consider, but also the specific spacing requirements to avoid overheating and fire hazards. As such, we always recommend that you have your range cooker professionally installed by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

    Still not sure which type of range cooker would be best for you? The Long Eaton Appliance Company has a huge variety, including Ceramic, Induction, Gas and Dual Fuel cookers, and a knowledgeable team who will be happy to offer you impartial advice to help you find your ideal range cooker, from a quality and trusted manufacturer.

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1 Acton Avenue,
Fields Farm Road, Long Eaton,
Nottingham, NG10 1GA

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