It's hard to make a stove decision.
October 25, 2012 10:04 AM   Subscribe

We love baking! We love pressure canning! What kind of stove is right for us?

Our stove is dying. The enamel is rusting out and the plug is broken and the clock doesn't work and the light doesn't work and now the door won't open all the way. It's like 20 years old. I've never bought a stove before, just gotten hand-me-downs from upgraders.

Looking into new stoves, though, I'm a bit overwhelmed by options.

The biggest headache seems to be that pressure canning is incompatible with flat-top stoves and induction stoves – I've found some online workarounds for hot water bath canning, but our pressure canner is too big to ever work within what I understand are the safe/practical margins on a contemporary flat-top stove.

And my wife does a lot of semi-professional baking (vegan cupcakes), and the double-oven stoves look like they'd be crazy convenient to double up on baking batches, because putting racks of cupcakes on different racks results in uneven baking. But! Maybe the "hidden baking element" feature on some stoves would cover that as well, as it apparently results in more even baking and is far less expensive than dual ovens...

And - and! -- I love my current solid-burner stove because it's so danged easy to clean. Solid burners seem to be next to totally impossible to find, though. I'm really not a big fan of spiral burners. I've never canned on spiral burners. They seem a bit... fragile for a 23L canner to sit on top of.

Complicating things even more, spiral-burner stoves seem to generally only come in "regular oven" models. You can find some with "hidden baking elements," but double-oven really only seems to be an option with smooth tops.

The stove must be electric. Gas is not an option.

Money is some object, but we're both believers that quality is worth investing in.

What's the right stove for us? Should we just bite the bullet and get a smooth top and buy some sort of standalone burner for canning? Will a hidden baking element allow us to multi-rack cupcake bases with even baking, or is a double oven really the way to go?
posted by Shepherd to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think convection as an option in the oven will even up the cupcake bake. I have convection and not only do things bake evenly, it's faster! This way you can get your solid burners in a one-oven set up.

I'm thinking a separate propane burner for canning might be the way to go, given the constraints of the electric cooktop.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:43 AM on October 25, 2012

I came specifically to suggest buying a standalone burner for canning. Hybrid stoves tend to be really expensive (or low quality, you choose). If you do alot of canning, it's so much more pleasant. Canning with gas is a dream, and is much more forgiving, even if you have to do it outside (or in a garage with proper venting)

Something like this, is choice. Just be sure to find one that is welded together, not held together by nuts and bolts.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:47 AM on October 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Not trying to threadsit, but we live in a part of Quebec where it regularly gets down to minus twenty (Celsius), and don't have a garage, so any kind of burner that requires outdoor use is pretty much out. We can year round, largely to make our own vegetable broth etc.
posted by Shepherd at 11:00 AM on October 25, 2012

Convection oven for cupcakes, no doubt about it.

Could you clarify how you are canning now, since presumably your canner is much larger than your current burners?

There are induction cooktops that will heat a pan over any area of the top, but I'm not sure you can get one with an oven. They are also quite high end.
posted by ssg at 11:14 AM on October 25, 2012

Could you get an induction or flat top stove if that's what you want for every day use and get a convection oven, which are great for baking, and then get a separate stand alone electric hotplate for canning? You can get them in a range of powers and styles so you could get the element sort you wanted and it would free up space on the stove when canning. Something like this, though there are a large range of sizes, power and price points.
posted by wwax at 12:02 PM on October 25, 2012

Best answer: I bought this induction stove with double oven, not because I'm a cook, but because I love kitchen gadgets. The largest pot it'll accommodate is 10". It's big enough for my partner's pressure cooker, but if your pressure canner is larger, then it wouldn't work.

It has a double oven, though the bottom one does not support convection and is very low. I've successfully baked pies in it (while the turkey was in the main one). Convection ovens are lovely.

I would look at your budget FIRST, and list what you want in priority.

It sounds like a convection oven is a must. Possibly a double oven, though it really depends on what you are baking and how much of it. Convection ovens are usually 1/3 faster than regular (so 20 minutes for a typically 30 minute recipe).

There are few solid burners, because everybody's switched to ceramic glass tops now. And they are super easy to clean. Ceramic glass tops exist for both regular electric and induction stove tops.

Induction, compared to regular electric, is more energy efficient and safer, because it doesn't heat up unless there's a pot on it. But it's also still an emerging technology so they're quite expensive. It's also a pain if you have to buy new cookware, since the pots and pans need to be ferrous, and you should certainly calculate that into your budget. I love mine--but I love kitchen gadgets.
posted by ethidda at 12:43 PM on October 25, 2012

Yeah, glass tops are out, as you mentioned, because of the inconsistency of the heat. Despite your reservations, standard spiral top burners work fine for canning. You can also get a hot plate, if you don't want to go for a spiral-top stove. The one I've linked to is a spiral top, but I'm fairly certain that I've seen them with solid elements before, as well.

The advantage of the hot plate is that you can get whatever kind of stove you want and only breakout the hot plate when you're canning.
posted by asnider at 12:54 PM on October 25, 2012

My last 2 ranges have been medium-high-end (GE Profile, Electrolux) dual fuel models with second, smaller ovens in what I used to think of as the broiler drawer. In both, the second oven has only been slightly useful. They don't get as hot as the main oven can, take significantly longer to preheat, and are rather small. I would not spend extra money to get a dual-oven model like the ones I've had.

Convection, on the other hand, is great. Get that.
posted by jon1270 at 3:33 PM on October 25, 2012

Also, if your canner is aluminum then induction definitely won't work.
posted by jon1270 at 3:34 PM on October 25, 2012

Best answer: We do a great deal of canning and have had similar debates. I've talked to several appliance repair shops and they've all suggested coil stoves (after I nixed gas ranges) and expressed concern about the weight of a large canner on a smooth top stove. The coil stove has more or less worked for us, but coil terminal blocks won't put up with the heat. I've had to replace one or two each year (about $10 each). The weight of the canners (both a 21qt bw canner and a 23qt pressure canner) hasn't been much of an issue, though looking at it right now, I'd say the top of the stove is slightly warped.

I'm reasonably happy with the oven, but we mainly bake bread, not cupcakes.

I have used a portable counter-top propane burner for canning on a couple of occasions and liked it. I don't see why a smooth top or coil burner wouldn't work just as well. Depending on your volume, that seems like a good option to me. We also can on top of a turkey-fryer burner. This is a joy (very deep pot, plenty of heat, positioned at a good height for moving a very heavy pot) but has to be used outside. I've used it in the winter too, but it's not a lot of fun.
posted by farmerd at 5:46 PM on October 25, 2012

How willing are you to remodel a bit? We ended up separating our stove from the oven, so we have a cooktop built into our counter and there are big storage drawers underneath. Then we have a double oven built into a wall unit next to the refrigerator. That is 2 full size ovens, the top one is standard+convection and the bottom one is standard. I LOVE having 2 ovens. I am not a professional baker, but we use both ovens whenever we are making cookies or a dinner with roasted vegetables. I figure as long as we are heating up the house anyway, we might as well use them both.

Every year, the neighborhood cookie-baking party takes place at my house because I have miles of counter space and 2 full ovens. We get 4 different families in there making dough, setting up the pans, and rotating through the ovens.
posted by CathyG at 8:26 AM on October 26, 2012

Maybe go retro? My neighbor lucked out and found a 1958 Hotpoint Electric Range during an estate sale/ remodel. It is 60 inches wide and has elements that were specifically designed to fit larger stock pots/pressure cookers/canning vessels. We didn't hold out much hope for the oven, but it turns out that it maintains temp much better than a smaller oven and there's plenty of room for the hot air to circulate, so no hot spots.

It is very well made but probably weighs as much as a cast iron AGA. It cost him $50 to buy, but $200 to have it moved. Parts are standard and still available. He replaced the 220V power supply line.

Alternatively, dedicated single burner units for large stockpots are sold by restaurant supply houses. They require 220/240V hard wiring, and usually run about $400. Dimensions are usually 12" wide, !8" long, and ten inches high, on legs for easy cleaning on the line. In restaurants, they usually have a dedicated cold water tap above for easy filling.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 10:19 AM on October 27, 2012

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