Ovens of various forms have been used for millennia. From earthenware pots in the fire to in-ground pits used to bake bread, humans and their ancestors have been creating heated chambers since before written history. These days, electricity and technology have changed the face of our in-home cooking appliances, and we’ve homed in on a few standard options. Here’s a roundup of the most common household oven types.
Your basis gas or electric oven features a space heated by elements. The door opens to allow access, and a broiler at the top creates very high heat for particular applications. Conventional ovens can be mounted on the wall, freestanding, or combined with a stove on top.
Convection ovens differ from conventional ovens in that they have a fan at the back of the chamber that continually blows hot air throughout the cooking box, providing more even heat at lower temperatures, using less energy. Convection ovens are ideal for baking and crisping up meats.
Smaller and faster than conventional or convection ovens, microwaves use radio waves to cook foods from the inside out in little time. However, they are not generally used for making complex meals. Most people enjoy the convenience of microwaves for heating water, defrosting frozen foods, or making popcorn.
Mainly found in restaurants or high-end private kitchens, speed ovens combine the technologies used in convection, microwave, and infrared ovens all in one machine. There is a fan in the back for convection baking, a microwave that functions in bursts to cook meat quickly without drying it out, and infrared broiling elements that cook like an outdoor grill.
A sort of old-fashioned favorite, toaster ovens, or Oven Toaster Grills (OTGs), are like countertop conventional ovens used mainly for reheating, toasting, and grilling small items. They are ideal where space is at a premium but are extremely limited in their cooking abilities.
People around the globe rely on other types of ovens to make meals for their families. Solar ovens, for example, require no electricity and use the heat of the sun to cook food. So-called pizza ovens are made of clay and are powered by the heat from a fire built under or inside the oven cavity. Earthen ovens still are in use in some countries, and halogen ovens are a recent addition to the world of cooking options.
The importance of ovens throughout human history cannot be downplayed. Even as options continue to evolve today, new innovations can change the way we interact with and prepare our meals.
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