A double cooker is an excellent addition to your kitchen, whether you are upgrading or buying your first ever cooker. But how do you go about purchasing one as a first-timer? How do you ensure you get the best not only for you but also for the kitchen?
Like any other kitchen appliance, you don’t want to go wrong with the double cooker. This article explores five crucial things you should know before you buy a double cooker for your home.
What is a Double Cooker?
Going by its name, a double cooker allows you to cook different meals simultaneously at different temperatures.
A double cooker eliminates the problem of waiting until you have fully cooked one meal before cooking the next one.
Unlike a regular cooker, a double cooker ensures even heat distribution across the compartments such that the dish cooking in the top rack gets the same amount of heat as the one cooking in the bottom rack. As such, it eliminates the risk of burning one meal.
The most significant disadvantage of double cookers is that they don’t come in cheap.
But as you’ll agree, this is a debatable aspect since different view product prices differently. Also, if you consider the tremendous value the cooker offers, it surpasses its high initial cost of purchasing and installation.
What is the Difference Between a Cooker and an Oven?
Many people use the terms oven and cooker interchangeably. However, a cooker refers to the whole unit, while an oven is just part of this unit.
A double cooker has two ovens in it that allow you to cook two different meals simultaneously at varying temperatures without worrying about ruining either dish due to the temperature or cook time differences.
5 Things to Know Before Buying a Double Cooker
As with any other kitchen appliance you invest in, there are several things you have to keep in mind when shopping around for a suitable double cooker.
If you can get these things right the first time, you’ll not only get the best cooker but also save yourself loads of trouble. Kitchen appliances are meant to last a long time, and you want your double cooker to last a long time as well and turn out a worthy investment.
Here are five critical things to consider before you buy your first or next double cooker.
1. Sizing and Installation
If you are already looking for a double cooker, it means that you must have a large family, large enough that you won’t be preparing meals for only you but three to four people at a go. If you don’t have a large family, perhaps you have guests coming in often. Either way, you need a sizable cooker.
When choosing the right size, consider your available kitchen space, especially at the exact spot where you want to install the cooker.
If you can fit in a 90cm-tall cooker, then you can buy one with this height. Or a 70cm tall one (an under-counter cooker) if space is smaller. The former is a double built-in model installed at eye level.
Note with some under-counter cooker models, the second oven is very shallow and better suited for grilling. You might have to make do with the limited oven space even when preparing meals for a larger family if you can only fit the 70cm-tall cooker.
Regardless of the size you choose, we recommend you call in a qualified professional to do the installation for you. It might appear simple plug-in-and-play for a cooker, but one wrong thing and it won’t cook. Plus, you would be playing with fire, literally.
Some double cooker manufacturers insist that experts install their models for the warranty to remain active.
2. Type of Oven in the Cooker
You should check that the oven doors use clear glass that allows you to easily see the state of your food or bakes as they cook in the ovens.
Glass doors also save you money since you’ll rarely open them to check the state of your dish. The more you open the ovens, the more heat you lose each time. As such, your dishes will cook for a longer time, and you end up spending more on input energy.
You should also check the type of heating mechanism the ovens use, either convection heating or conventional heating.
In convection cooking, a fan distributes the heat uniformly all over the ovens, so you don’t have to worry about what dish you place on which rack. You might choose this type since with a convection oven, you can cook faster because it is hotter than a conventional oven.
In a conventional oven, the heat radiates from the bottom. As it doesn’t circulate, the air is potentially hotter in one oven end than the other.
Conventional ovens are your best choice if you plan to bake bread, cakes, and cookies quite often. A conventional oven also excels at braising, making casseroles, and cooking dishes that must remain covered inside the oven during the process.
3. Energy Source and Efficiency
Double cookers are either electric, gas or dual fuel. An electric cooker has mains electricity as the source of heat. With this type, you must ensure your home is connected to a reliable electricity grid. Frequent outages mean you can’t cook with this type.
A gas cooker uses gas as the source of heating energy, requiring you to have a constant supply of cooking gas all the time. The main advantage of gas burner cookers is that they heat quickly and cook much faster. They are also relatively cheaper than electric burner cookers.
Gas burners are more energy-efficient due to faster heating and immediate heat time-out when you turn them off.
An electric burner cooker is a favorite of those with reservations about the safety hazards of cooking gas. You might have to choose an electric cooker if your cooking area or kitchen is windy (gas would be blown away and pose risks and reduce efficiency.)
Although electric burners require some heating time when you power them on and some cooling time when you switch them off, they distribute heat more uniformly, meaning your dishes cook evenly all around.
The flat plates in electric burner cookers make them easier to clean.
Note here that electric cookers can be tricky to install on your own. Be sure to call in a professional electrician to do the installation for you safely.
A dual-fuel double cooker uses both electricity and gas as heating energy sources. It has both electric hotplates and gas burners, making it the favourite of many people who want to enjoy both gas and electric cooking.
Regardless of the type, you choose between electric, gas, and dual-fuel cookers, it’s crucial to ensure the oven has an energy efficiency rating of an A and above.
Cookers in this energy efficiency range might be costlier upfront, but they are more environmentally friendly, and you’ll save a lot more in reduced heating bills.
4. Types of Hobs
With a worktop hob, you can use a gas on glass hob as it makes cleaning easier and has a more stylish look.
Regular electric cookers use electric solid plate hobs, but these are now being replaced with ceramic hobs in new models. Ceramic gas hobs are sleek and easy to clean, but they don’t transfer heat well to cooking pans.
An induction hob has a copper coil beneath a glass top for transferring direct heat to a magnetic pan. It is thus highly energy-efficient and easy to clean.
5. Auto-Clean Functionality for Keeps?
It’s agreeable that cleaning is one of the least likable activities around the kitchen. And we have tons of kitchen appliances like dishwashers and auto-clean ovens to find an easier and faster way to clean various kitchen items.
If regular cleaning duties aren’t your forte, you should consider buying an auto-clean oven. Accumulated grease and food debris can be hazardous in a double cooker, with the potential to cause fires when you switch on the cooker or when it reaches high internal temperatures.
An auto-clean oven heats up to 500 degrees inside for several hours to burn all the food debris and stubborn grease into ash that you can wipe away after the cleaning cycle. Forget buying an oven cleaner!
You might also like auto-clean ovens as they are more energy-efficient because they are well insulated to cope with high internal temperatures.
Before buying a double cooker, be sure to check it against all the above considerations to ensure you pick the best model for you and your kitchen. The oven you choose has to serve your needs and be the best fit for your kitchen, especially size-wise.
A double cooker offers you the best of both worlds between speed cooking and volume cooking. To make this a notch higher, you can buy a dual-fuel double cooker for a taste of both worlds between evenly cooked dishes and balanced energy efficiency.