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Ranges are multifunctional appliances that are a combination of an oven and stovetop. Ranges are used to boil, saute, fry, and heat up food on top but are also designed for baking, roasting, and broiling food inside. Specifically, kitchen ranges can be used to:
- Broil Meat
- Bake different types of dessert
- Store pots and pans in it to save space
- Reheat leftovers from your previous get-together.
Ranges are either powered by electricity or gas. Electric ranges use metal elements that contain resistance wires to heat up food and are available in 208-volt, 240-volt, and 480-volt models. On the other hand, gas ranges are designed with open burners that have British thermal units (BTUs) from 20,000 to 40,000. Read more about the best pots and pans for gas stove for a better cooking experience. Both types of ranges will have 4 to 10 burners and 1 to 2 ovens underneath depending on the model you purchase. While you are on the subject, be sure to also check our guide to the best range hood reviews for your specific stove type.
As two kitchen appliances as one, ranges can be used to brew seasonal cocktails or drinks for special occasions. Additionally, the stovetop of a range can be used to sterilize canning jars while the built-in oven can keep these jars warm before use. The other ways to make use of ranges include:
Your range can be used to bake polenta. Start off by pre-heating the oven to 350°F (176°C) then grease and line your baking pan. On the top of the range, bring a pot of water to boil and add salt before stirring in olive oil. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the polenta making sure to whisk for 3 minutes straight. The polenta will be ready to be transferred to your baking pan when it is thick and has a smooth consistency. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes to 20 minutes then let it cool before cutting and serving.
The kitchen range can be used to brew cocktails. In a large pot on the stovetop, combine your ingredients and let it simmer on medium heat. Stir occasionally and reduce your heat then let your cocktail brew for 30 minutes without a cover. Then you can ladle your cocktail into mugs then garnish with cinnamon or star anise. You can keep your cocktail on the range on your stove’s lowest setting for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Ranges can also be used as broilers for different types of meat. For a tenderloin steak, make sure it is about 1 inch to 1 ½ inches in thickness and has been marinated overnight. Set your oven to Broil on High. Place your meat onto the lined and oiled broiler pan and broil for 10 minutes to 20 minutes. Flip your steak halfway through.
An alternate way to use your range is to clean cookware. For heavy-duty cleaning, add white vinegar into your pan making sure that the bottom is filled with about ½ inch of liquid. Let the vinegar simmer in your pan for around 5 minutes then remove it from the top of your range. Add 1 cup of baking soda and wait for the mixture to fizz. When the bubbles have died down, drain your pan and scrub off any residue. Rinse with water and soap and then dry.
Your ranges can be used to prepare jars and cook fruit jam. To make berry jam at home, sterilize your jars to properly protect your jam and maintain its shelf life. Wash your jars with hot and soapy water then place on an oven rack. Sterilize them in the oven at 250°F (121°C) for 10 minutes to 15 minutes. For the jam, wash your berries before combining them with your sugar and salt in a pan on top of your kitchen range. On low heat, dissolve the sugar before turning up your stovetop to high heat. Let your jam boil and mash the berries if necessary. Add your lemon juice and use low heat for your jam to simmer and thicken. Stir for 20 minutes or until the jam clings to a spoon then ladle your jam into your jars.
Dehydrate Fruits and Vegetables
Ranges can double as a dehydrator for fruits and vegetables. Preheat your oven to 225°F (107°C) and slice your fruits or vegetables so that they are about ¼ inches thin. Line your baking pan with parchment paper and arrange your fruit or vegetables making sure that they are about ½ an inch to 1 inch apart. Use about 1 tablespoon of sugar to sprinkle on top of your fruit. Dehydrate in your kitchen range for at least 4 hours. After they have cooled completely, store in a freezer-safe container and use within 6 weeks.
The top of your range can be used to fry eggs for breakfast. Simply heat up 2 teaspoons of butter in a pan on top of your stove on medium to high heat. Crack your eggs into the pan and reduce the heat of your range to low. Flip your eggs once the egg whites have set then season with salt and pepper.
Also, ranges are used for making dessert. For stovetop chocolate cake, cream butter and sugar in a bowl until it is fluffy. Then, whisk in your eggs followed by flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Line and grease a cake pan before pouring in your cake batter. In a saucepan on top of your range, place a plate inside upsidedown and fill your pan with water until it is near the top of the plate. On medium-low heat, let the water simmer before placing your baking pan on top of your plate. Let your cake steam for 25 minutes to 30 minutes refilling the water as necessary. Once the middle of the cake is firm, remove the baking pan and let the cake cool for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
If you are going to use the built-in oven of your range, preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Combine your ingredients in a bowl and pour your batter into a lined and greased baking pan. Place your cake pan into the oven and let it bake for 25 minutes to 40 minutes until it has risen and is firm in the middle. Remove from the oven and let it cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Ranges can be used to proof dough by using the built-in oven. To rest and let your dough rise before you bake it, turn on the oven to the lowest temperature which is usually 200°F (93°C). Using a food thermometer, turn off the oven when it reaches around 110°F (43°C) and leave the oven door open as you place your dough inside. Let the dough rise in the oven at 75°F (23°C) to 85°F (29°C) for 1 hour to 2 hours. Then let it rise another one or two times before you bake your bread.
Kitchen ranges are also appliances used to make puffed rice. First, let the rice soak for 10 minutes and then fill up a saucepan with water and place it on top of your range. Bring it to a boil, pour in your rice, season with salt or sugar, and let it cook on low heat for about ½ an hour. Afterwards, spread it on absorbent paper and leave it to dry overnight. The following day, line and grease a baking tray and spread out your rice grains before baking it in the oven at 250°F (121°C) for 2 hours.
Both the stovetop and oven of your range can be used to reheat leftovers. Place a pan on the stovetop on low to medium heat and put your leftovers inside. If your leftovers are a soup or stew, stir every minute or so. Otherwise, flip your leftovers halfway to promote even cooking.
As for the bottom appliance of your range, you can reheat leftovers at 200°F (93°C) to 250°F (121°C). Put your leftovers in an oven-safe dish or pan and cover them with aluminium foil. Most food like meat or rice will only take 15 minutes to 20 minutes to be thoroughly reheated.
A kitchen range can alternatively be used as a vegetable steamer. Place a steamer basket into a pot and fill it with water underneath the basket. Put your pot on top of your range and bring the water to a boil. Wash and cut up your vegetables before placing them into the steamer basket. Cover the pot and cook until your vegetables are tender which takes around 10 minutes. Transfer the steamed vegetables into a bowl and season before serving.
Sterilize and Warm Canning Jars
Also, ranges can be used to prepare and warm canning jars. When using the stove part of your kitchen range, wash your jars in hot soapy water making sure that the lids and bands are washed as well. Fill a pot with your canning jars and water to cover your jars and bring it t a boil. Sterilize your jars this way for 10 minutes. As for the lids, bring them to a simmer in a saucepan filled with water. Reduce the heat of your pot of canning jars and saucepan of lids to keep them warm until you use them.
To sterilize canning jars in the oven of your range, heat it to 275°F (135°C). Thoroughly wash your canning jars and their parts. Using 2 layers of newspapers to cover your middle oven rack, arrange your canning jars and make sure that they are not touching each other. Let the oven sterilize them for 20 minutes before you remove them from the oven.
Store Pots and Pans
A range often comes with a storage drawer where you keep your cookware. While you can keep pots and pans on top of your stove or inside your oven, the storage drawer is meant to keep heat-safe cookware. This means that you can store baking pans, casserole dishes, and skillets in the range storage drawer.
What are the common mistakes for usage of ranges?
When learning about how to use ranges in your kitchen for any of the use cases above, there are a few common mistakes your need to avoid such as:
- Disregarding yellow flame. If you have gas burners that have a yellow flame instead of the usual white or blue, the gas valves of your range can be clogged. This can damage your range and turn the bottom of your pots and pans black so schedule a deep clean annually.
- Forgetting to also clean the range hood. The range hood is important when you are using your stove and oven because oil and grease can build up. As part of your range-cleaning regimen, make sure that you are also including the range hood.
- Not cleaning your range. Your stovetops will need a thorough cleaning to work well to heat up or cook your food properly. Leftover burnt food, oil, and spilled food can build up over time and become a health hazard. The same goes for your oven. Even if it has a self-cleaning option, this can be strenuous on your range and it is better to clean up the grime in your oven every 3 months instead of using the self-cleaning feature one or two times a year.
- Only using the top of your kitchen range. The stove is great to sear and fry food but you should also make use of the oven that comes with your range. As you can see from the use cases above, the stove and oven of your range can be used to prepare and cook certain dishes.
- Placing too much food on top and inside your range. Overcrowding your pots and pans on your stove may compromise the quality of your food because it can cook unevenly. Similarly, trying to cook too many things inside the oven of your range can decrease its performance because the heated air will not be able to circulate properly.
- Putting cold food in your pots and pans. Cold food will simply not cook properly if you take it out of the refrigerator or freezer and put it in a pan right away. Make sure that your ingredients are at room temperature or take them out of your refrigerator 20 minutes before you start to cook.
- Putting your food on the wrong burner. There are different burners on your range for a reason. Make sure that you are using the right burner for the specific size of your pot or pan to avoid burning your food.
- Using heat that is too hot or not hot enough. When your heat is too low it can lead to soggy food. On the other hand, then the stove on your range is too hot, you can burn your food. Follow cooking instructions and make sure that you are using the right heat for the use cases above.
- Using the wrong type of range. Chefs may prefer a gas range because of the precise heat it offers while others may opt for an electric range because it is better for baking.
- Using the wrong types of pots and pans for cooking or reheating food. The type of cookware you use affects the food you are making on the stove. Use a non-stick pan for frying eggs and as instructed above or a deep saucepan for jam.
What is the history of usage of ranges?
What are ranges? This combination of appliances can be traced back to the Qin dynasty in 221 B.C. to 207 B.C. because of the first cooking apparatus that enclosed a fire. The first kitchen range designed for in-house use was invented by Benjamin Thompson in 1795. This range had a single fire where the temperature could be adjusted for various pots and pans. In the 1800s, Mary Evad invented the range with the cast iron for dry and moist baking which became popular among the middle-class.
The gas range was invented in 1826 but gained popularity after James Sharp patented a gas stove which boomed in 1880. Not only were gas ranges easy to use, but they also took up less space than their predecessors. Then in 1892, Thomas Ahearn designed the first electric range. By 1920, electric ranges were competitors with gas ranges because they were more affordable, easy to clean, and more aesthetic.
Do the use cases of ranges change based on type?
Yes, the use cases of your kitchen range will change based on the type of range you own. Gas ranges are more precise when it comes to stove-top cooking because of the exact temperature adjustment this type of range offers. However, temperatures are prone to fluctuating when you use the gas-powered oven.
On the other hand, electric ranges have a stovetop that will heat up more slowly compared to a gas range. These ranges are also less energy efficient but offer more precise temperature adjustment in the oven. The stovetop doe not offer the same precise temperature control but electric ranges are more affordable than their gas counterpart.
Dual fuel ranges are a combination of a gas stovetop and an electric oven where you can use both to your advantage. There are also slide-in ranges that are meant to be more compact and are meant to fit into your countertop. Freestanding ranges are meant to take up more space and are independent appliances. However, these ranges can offer storage overhead if your model is designed that way.
Which ranges are best for cooking vegetables?
A gas range is considered among the best ranges for cooking vegetables. Gas ranges have stovetops that allow you to control temperatures accurately which is perfect for boiling, steaming, blanching, roasting, and stir-frying vegetables at the optimum temperature.
Do ranges have more use cases than a microwave oven?
Yes, ranges have more use cases than a microwave oven and easily win the ranges vs. microwave oven battle. Microwave ovens are primarily used to reheat food which you can do with the stovetop or oven of your kitchen range. However, ranges are also used to broil, boil, stir-fry, grill, and bake food as seen in the use cases above. A microwave oven is not designed for these cooking applications.
What are the other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to ranges?
Other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to ranges include:
- Air Fryer: An air fryer is a countertop appliance that uses a fan to circulate hot air in order to heat up and cook different types of food.
- Convection oven: This kitchen tool circulates hot air around its chamber to evenly heat and cooks food evenly.
- Stove: A stove uses fuel or electricity to heat up its burners which is where pots and pans are placed to fry, boil, or saute food.
These kitchen appliances have similar uses to ranges but have use cases specific to themselves. You can learn more about the 5 other uses of these 3 kitchen tools here.