Traditional or Cutting Edge Style?
Following on rather neatly is the actual design. Obviously a lot will depend on your physical restrictions and the existing colour scheme; you wouldn’t want a hulking black AGA in a cutting edge minimalist bijou kitchen full of miniscule objets d’art and barely enough room to swing a cat. So there will be limitations, which will help you to narrow your choices somewhat. Ovens aren’t all created following the same one dimensional blueprint. So whether you’re looking for a clean, white façade or a slightly more colourful alternative, you shouldn’t come up short.
Getting the Specification Right
If you fancy yourself as the next Mary Berry and enjoy nothing more than baking cakes and other treats for the family, the size, temperature and visibility offered by an oven is hugely important. First and foremost, you will need a window. This will enable you to see the rise of a bake without opening the door and allowing all the heat to escape. It’s not a standardised feature across all ovens, even if they do appear on the majority of designs, so always double check that the door includes a transparent glass panel.
Then comes the temperature of course. Whether you’re a baker or a budding chef, the last thing you want is to have to adjust timings or compromise on quality just because your oven is limited to 200 degrees. Sure, this might be enough for most dishes, but there are always going to be those occasional few recipes that demand 250 degrees or even more. Therefore, if you’re serious about cooking, make sure your oven matches your aspirations.
So what about size? Well, as mentioned previously, a great deal will depend on the space you have available, or indeed what you can make available within the kitchen. You may have your heart set on a large oven to allow you to cook everything all at once, but if it doesn’t fit then it won’t just be your turkey that’s stuffed at Christmas. Get out your tape measure and see what fits or what adjustments can be made to squeeze your dream oven into your kitchen.
How will it fit in with Your Kitchen?
Do you want it to be built into your cabinets, fitted under the worktop with a stove on top, will a single suffice or are you looking for a double? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer as every homeowner has their own requirements and limitations. So whether you’re going for a like-for-like replacement or having a complete re-fit, take a look at the sizes, shapes and options that are on offer.
Then of course you might fancy saving yourself some time and investing in a self-cleaning oven. At the click of a button, it will rinse away any excess grease and grime, leaving you with a (reasonably) clean interior. Now, as an oven cleaning company, you might expect us to be fully against any kind of automation; however, it is always a good idea to keep your cooker clean and free from the usual detritus – no matter how it is achieved. But, as effective as the mechanism is, it’s still far from perfect. So while you may be able to get away with reducing the frequency of thorough cleans, you won’t be able to eliminate them entirely. So be sure to bear that in mind before you make a purchase.
Value for Money
How about price then? After you’ve worked out the size, style and specification, you’ll need to have an idea of your budget. The cheapest models can be under £200, while at the top end you’re likely to be looking at four figures; however, there are plenty in between to choose from. By setting an upper limit, you can immediately eliminate or include a large number of models in an instant.
As with any major investment these days, it’s important that you seek customer and expert reviews. Occasionally they will highlight issues that aren’t made obvious in the manufacturer’s description and even make you aware of added benefits – such as good value for money or decent efficiency. There are a whole host of top brands creating a range of fantastic ovens, including Zanussi, Siemens, Hotpoint, Neff and Electrolux. While a big name isn’t always a guarantee of quality, you can usually be assured of decent ongoing service and readily available parts – at least in most cases.
Flying the Flag
Of course the aforementioned manufacturers are all fine and good in their own right; however, each one is missing one vital element – British heritage. For those that like to fly the flag in their kitchen, only an oven that has been designed and built in the UK will do. So if you’re a patriotic baker and want to enjoy the best of British, look out for products from the likes of Stoves, New World and Belling. It’s great quality from a name that you know you can trust.
So work out what you need, what you can afford and where it can fit in before you part with any cash. A keen amateur baker may have entirely different requirements to a trendy couple looking to bring a little glamour to their kitchen, so no two consumers are the same. As long as you continue to maintain and clean it regularly, then there’s no reason why your new oven shouldn’t last for many years to come.
Of course if you’ve recently purchased an oven or have had your own experiences in the past, be sure to share them below or on our Facebook page. Whether serious, useful, funny or awful, we’d certainly love to hear from you.
Despite its sturdier build and overall solidity, an AGA needs just as much attention and care as a conventional electric or gas oven. While some homeowners use them throughout the year for cooking, the AGA’s ability to heat a home means that it really comes into its own. So if yours has been inactive or only partially used these last six or seven months, now might be the time to get it in tip top condition once again.
Inside, most AGA ovens are constructed out of cast-iron. As such, they’re pretty tough – particularly when compared with many modern materials. However, newer models do tend to have enamel exteriors, which are easier to damage. If these surfaces are getting a little grubby, make sure that you don’t use bleaches or any other potentially harmful cleaning products. Treat it with care, or you could risk ruining the finish.
As with any oven, you should look to carry out regular cleaning and maintenance to avoid any potentially problematic build ups further down the line. The more care an attention you pay over the course of a year, including wiping up any spillages and giving the inside a bit of a scrub every now and then, the less you’ll need to worry about later.
As mentioned, don’t be afraid to really give the inside a good scraping, even using a wire brush if necessary. The AGA will be tough enough to take it, plus it allows you to get most of the accumulated dirt off without having to use potentially harmful chemicals.
If your AGA hasn’t been cleaned for a number of months or maybe even years, then it can be quite a tough job to get it back into shape. Again, you have to be extremely careful with how you actually go about it as there are some cleaners that can do more harm than good. Fortunately, as the individual doors can easily be detached, you should be able to get right into the belly of the oven and scrub away to your heart’s content. The location of the door and the extra care required around glass windows found on many modern electric ovens are immediately eliminated, making your task that little bit easier.
Of course there are new AGAs and then there are models that have been heating the same home and providing meals to families for decades. If you have a contemporary oven, then you would be advised to consult the manufacturer’s manual before charging in and scouring every surface. Once it has been damaged or chipped off, enamel is extremely difficult to repair and replace. For those older cookers, it’s reasonably safe to assume that most already have scrapes and a little discolouration, although this is not an excuse to neglect them further.
If your AGA needs to be cleaned before the cold winter months fully kick in, but you don’t have the time or confidence to do so yourself, look to choose a specialist cleaning service. We help hundreds of customers who find themselves in this very situation every year. A little expert help, even if it is only once a year, really can go a long way.
At the end of last month you may have heard the tragic story of a young child who was badly injured having ingested a quantity of oven cleaner. The manufacturer recalled all products to assess the safety of the cap, but the incident caused widespread concern for parents everywhere. Unfortunately, accidents can always happen, particularly where young inquisitive minds are involved; however, to help you avoid any serious incidents, here are some quick guidelines for cleaning an oven safely, even with kids around.
Keep Cleaning Agents Out of Reach and Out of Sight
While we may all recognise the difference between an appetising drink and a potentially harmful chemical, the distinction isn’t always clear to children. This is why many parenting groups suggest that you keep any such items in either a locked or difficult to reach cupboard. After all, if a child doesn’t know where it is or know that access is impossible, they aren’t likely to be tempted. It’s also important that you don’t leave any such products out while in use.
Be Careful When Cleaning
The oven cleaning process can take hours, during which time the door will often need to be left open with the chemicals potentially exposed. In this situation it is best to keep children and pets out of the room entirely. Supermarket-bought products can be more corrosive and harmful, particularly those that use caustic soda, as such they are more likely to cause damage when coming into contact with skin.
Again, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to the use of any injury caused by oven cleaning agents. You should look to make the appliance and product as inaccessible as possible, before, during and after the process. If you should get any of the chemicals on your skin or that of your children, be sure to wash it off instantly and leave it under a running tap. If irritation or pain continues, then you may need to seek medical advice.
Check the Product Details
If doing oven cleaning yourself, rather than using a professional service, you should look at the label and scour the warnings and ingredients. As mentioned above, caustic soda is a chemical that has been phased out to a certain extent, but still appears in a number of off-the-shelf products. This is particularly harmful and can even damage the oven, so would be advisable to avoid these cleaners where possible. This is why Ovenu only use products that are tested to be effective and safe for enamel surfaces.
The most important piece of advice is to be careful. It’s easy to be blasé about cleaning an oven and treat it like any other job around the house. However, you should always keep in mind that chemicals can be dangerous, causing injuries and, as with the tragic story mentioned at the outset, can even prove fatal if ingested. So don’t take any chances, keep any cleaning agents out of sight when not in use and even ensure that the kitchen is kept out of bounds during the process.