Convection Oven Buying Guide
The main difference between an electric oven and a convection oven is the use of air. Convection ovens circulate hot air, whilst electric ovens simply heat static air. The advantages of a convection oven are that it is able to reduce cooking time by up to 25 percent and cooking temperatures up to 30 percent. Convection ovens are versatile and cook food differently.
Many chefs feel that convection ovens have become one of the biggest time savers in the kitchen since the microwave. The main feature of a convection oven is a fan that actively circulates the hot air in the oven around the food and so creates a uniform even temperature across the entire food surface. This can also mean that a convection oven cooks food at significantly lower temperatures and saves energy expenses, as hot, moving air heats things up faster than motionless air of the same temperature.
How does it work?
The convection oven circulates heated air with a high temperature fan located in the back of the oven. The movement of the air strips away the cool thin layer of air that surrounds and insulates the food. This allows foods to cook faster and more evenly at lower temperatures than a conventional gas or electric oven and in turn cooking time is reduced by up to 25 percent and cooking temperature is reduced 25-30 percent.
In addition, the internal hot air circulating fans ensure that the same temperature reaches the top and bottom of foods, as well as foods at all rack levels, which means chefs can get more out of a single oven by cooking multiple things at once.
Convection ovens are larger and more expensive than standard ovens, but are much easier and more rewarding in the long run.
Advantages of Convection Ovens versus Conventional
Technically, all ovens cook by convection, where hot interior air does the cooking. Standard (conventional) ovens use burners to heat the air inside the oven and transfer the heat to the surface of the food. With convection ovens an additional heating element and an extra motorised fan that blows heated air throughout diminishes the cooler air next to the food. A convection oven has upper, lower, and back heating sources.
Regulated Cooking Temperature
Regulating the internal temperature is easier with convection ovens because the fan circulates the hot air continuously. A third heating element located near or around the fan in the back of the oven heats the air to a uniform temperature before it enters the oven and this balanced heat circulation prevents hot spots. (Conventional ovens usually have hot spots where food near the top or bottom overcooks or burns).
Convection ovens cook food more evenly compared to conventional ovens and this means more tender meat with deeper flavours, crispier edges and juice retained inside; meat is also quicker to cook. Sometimes conventional oven cooking can result in drier meats, with a burnt outer part and the meat not cooked as well inside.
Not only can chefs place trays of foods in the same oven and get even results, they can also cook different items, such as fish and bread and not get a transfer of flavours from one to the other.
A convection oven combines the benefits of roasting, browning and crisping food like an oven, with the speed of a microwave. It also reduces food shrinkage and sometimes can result in an extra serving or two.
Anything that goes in a regular oven can be cooked in a convection oven. Delicate pies and pastries can be cooked using a "gentle bake" option, which diffuses air circulation
Convection ovens are highly versatile units ideal for cooking, warming, roasting, re-heating, and baking. Convection ovens are available in gas or electric and in various configurations, including full-size, half - size, stackable and as part of a traditional bake oven.
When buying a convection oven, there are a few options or features to keep in mind. Look for a convection oven that offers a door window and interior oven lights. Both features let users see what is cooking without having to open the oven door.
Look for the "gentle bake" cycle and/or adjustable power levels. These ensure food will be cooked at the proper temperature. A model with recessed controls helps to prevent the knobs on the oven from being knocked, either increasing or decreasing the set temperature. Some will offer a cool down switch allowing the blower to operate while the heat source is off and the oven door is open, which makes for a quicker cool down when chefs need to resume cooking at a lower temperature, or to clean the oven after cooking.
European Convection Ovens
There are two main types of convection ovens: Regular and European. European convection ovens, or "true" convection ovens have an extra heating element near the fan, which allows it to blow pre-heated air, instead of moving around the already-heated air that has just been sitting in the oven. This "true" type of convection oven is more efficient at cooking foods than the regular kind.
Convection ovens are an essential piece of equipment for any high volume kitchen. Even for those without a lot of cooking expertise a convection oven makes cooking easier. Convection ovens are safer to use than a microwave oven as they emit natural heat instead of harmful rays and are versatile enough to use for thawing food, baking, roasting and all other types of cooking.
There are many models of convection ovens that come in various sizes, colours and with a variety of operating features. Try to find a unit with the features you want and one that will fit your available space. Allow for ample space around and above the unit so that the heat can be released.
If you would like further information on our range of convection ovens, or a quotation, then please contact our specialist Capital Sales team on 0844 725 9494 Option 1.