Posted by: Kelsey Avers | June 25, 2010

Gas vs. Electric – Tips to know when switching ranges

Red coils might be your only option

The differences between cooking on a gas-powered stove and an electric rage may be obvious to some people, but as for college students who are used to cooking Top Ramen on a constant basis, they might not be so apparent.
This post will help you readers to know the difference. During college you might be moving from place to place every few months or every year or so, and not all stoves/ovens are going to be powered the same, to the dismay of some. There are many things to take into consideration if you’re moving from gas-powered to electric, or vice versa.

Temperature lag time (patience is key)
A common beginner-on-electric mistake is with these kind of stoves is not waiting long enough for the element, as it is called, to heat up. On a gas stove, once you turn the flame off, the temperature will go down a lot quicker than it would on an electric stove. If you’re cooking on an electric stove and the item(s) you’re cooking can’t be left on slow-decreasing heat, be sure to remove the pot or pan from the range as soon as you turn off the heat; this might result in some burned food that won’t taste very good. On a gas stove, it is usually okay to leave the pot or pan on the range, as the temperature will decrease quicker once the flame is turned off.
If you need fast temperature changes, you can set one burner to hot (high) and another to medium, and move the pan when necessary. This is good to remember when you’re recipe calls for a boil-to-simmer transition in quick timing.

Electric stoves can ruin your favorite pots and pans
This “danger” goes hand-in-hand with the tip above. Because the heat on an electric stove doesn’t cool as quickly as a gas stove, it’s important not to let your pots and pans, especially your favorite ones, sit on the hot coils. This could result in a perfectly good pot being ruined.

Don’t turn on the wrong burner!
When I was younger I lived in an apartment with an electric range. I can’t tell you how many times I wasn’t paying attention to which burner I was turning on, only to come back to the stove 10 minutes later and wonder why my water wasn’t boiling. This was because I actually turned on the one in front of it or next to it. With an electric stove, be sure to pay more attention to which burner you’re turning on. You don’t have a visual of a flame like you do with a gas stove, and with electric ranges it takes quite a few minutes before the heat coils turn red.

Steady oven heat
A plus side to electric stoves is that they maintain a more steady heat than gas ovens. While this isn’t a big deal for most foods, it’s a plus for bakers because this means better heat for sensitive items like soufflés.

Power outages might stop your dinner party
This one is pretty obvious. If the power goes out, so does your electric stove. With a gas range, this won’t happen, unless, of course, you forget to pay your gas bill and that gets shut off.

Become familiar with your electric stove’s settings
Without the convenience of just looking at how big a flame is, you need to get familiar with your stoves low, medium and high temperatures, and what those settings really mean with your particular stove. Usually, on an electric range, temperatures are numbered 1 – 10 (5 being medium, of course). Sticking with a medium temperature is likely the best decision unless you’re boiling something. This way it doesn’t heat up too quickly.

Pick the right pan
It would be in your best interest, when cooking on an electric stove, to stick with flat-bottomed pans that make full contact with the heated element. Size is also important: Be sure to match the size of the pan to the burner you are using, so heat is evenly distributed.

What kind of stove/oven do you have? What are some tips that you would offer to those cooking on a gas or electric range?
Comment, and let us know!

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