Do you know… What convection ovens really do?

Once again the manufacturers out there have confused many people about convection. One company even advertised their convection oven by showing the room spinning around outside of the oven.

Standard bake and roast ovens are not obsolete or outdated. For most of us they are just fine, thank you. However there are some things to know about convection that may make you switch your thinking and spend a little more for it.

Convection ovens all have a fan built inside the oven cavity, which circulates the heated air throughout the oven and around all of the food. This does the following:

# Heats the inside evenly throughout. From level to level and back to front.
# Speeds up the cooking process by forcing the heat around the food constantly.
# Creates a surface “skin” of heat around the food, which prevents flavor transfer.

Here are the positives. If you plan to do catering out of your home, convection is a must have. Trays of cookies and appetizers will cook evenly and quickly. In fact, you can load up the oven on every level and get great results. You can also cook different items such as fish and bread and not get a transfer of flavors from one to the other.

For most of us, the oven is really not used all that much. Of course, Thanksgiving comes to mind, but the rest of the year is what, an occasional casserole, roast beef, or some roasted chickens and potatoes and a standard oven will work fine. In fact, on the commercial style units, the standard ovens not only work fine but also usually have much more capacity than a standard home unit oven.

Here is the bad news. Convection ovens usually cost hundreds of dollars more and they take a little getting used to. Because of the forced heat, you have a choice of reducing the temperature and cooking for the normal amount of time or leaving the temperature the same and cooking faster. Either way you will need to adjust your recipes accordingly. This may take a few burned dinners to get used to, but you will. Eventually, cookbooks will be written with a conversion to convection values, but I haven’t seen too many yet.

You need to look at your annual usage, family size, style of cooking and whether you entertain often before deciding on convection. Ideally, every kitchen should have at least two ovens and if it were mine, I’d make at least one convection. Just remember that you won’t be left out in the cold without one, they really can’t do anything a regular oven can’t do, but for a busy kitchen, they are nice to have. NOTE- If you like to bake your own fresh breads, you will achieve better color and more consistent loaves in a convection oven. Try a stone baking shelf too!

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