Tips for Cooking on an Electric Range

by on April 16, 2012
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It saddened me when we had to downsize, and I lost my five-burner gas range. This has caused a rethinking of how I cook. When you turn gas to low, the heat is immediately low. When you turn an electric range from high to low, it takes several minutes for the temperature to adjust. Here are some tips that will help you when cooking with an electric range.

  • When cooking on an electric stove, use two burners. Set one on high to bring to a boil, then move to another burner and set to low for the simmer you know is coming right up.
  • When you broil in a gas oven, you close the door.  This doesn’t work with electric.  You must keep the door ajar slightly in order for the broiler to function properly.
  • The temperature regulator of the stove top will turn the burner on and off, so 350º really just means that it will average 350º
  • One of the best investments you can make will be an IR InfraRed Thermometer by ThermoWorks.  No, I don’t get a kickback.  They are only about $40 and you will use it practically every day.  NEVER heat your teflon pan over 450º and never take cast iron over 550º.
  • Preheat pans with care because electric gets hot very quickly.  Your IR Thermometer will help you with this task.  A drop of water in your pan will help in absence of a thermometer
  • Don’t use abrasive cleaners with a ceramic stovetop.  It will scratch it.  There are non-abrasive cleansers that you must use.
  • Don’t ever run your stove top on HIGH.  It is like flooring your car all the way to work.  Use one notch above high as your high heat setting.
  • You can still use your cast iron skillets as long as they set flat.  You can’t use the ones with a rim around the bottom edge (like a reversible grill pan / griddle) Do not EVER slide your cast iron across your ceramic cooking surface.
  • Also, my cast iron wok does not work very well on the electric stove top.  I bought an inexpensive gas wok that I keep on the patio.  I also use the wok for blackening peppers, which you can’t do on the electric range.
  • I have two heavy cast iron skillets that I keep on the bottom rack of my oven.  It takes longer to preheat, but it maintains a steady temperature better.
  • The burners retain their heat for an inordinately long time.  I set a bread cooling rack on the hot burner as a reminder.
  • If your lid leaks water over the edge of the pot, it will pop and crack as the water hits the coil.  Always a shock.  Boil-overs are pretty awful too.
  • After turning on a burner, pause 10 seconds and put your hand over the burner you THINK you turned on to make sure you got the right one.
  • Resist turning the knob 180º when you turn it on.  Maintain the visual reminder of a burner ON knob turned slightly to the left or right.
  • If you have old pans and skillets with a warped bottom, get rid of them and get some new ones – even if they are second hand.  The warped bottoms do not come in contact with the heating element and will not heat properly.
  • Try to match the size of your pan with the burner that is close to its size.  If the pan is larger, it will heat unevenly with a hot-spot in the middle.  If it is smaller, you could melt your handle or mixing spoon with the heat escaping up the sides of the pan.

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