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The Importance of Planning for Successful Convection Cooking

Convection ovens are remarkable tools that deliver improved results with oven cooking because the food is cooked with the circulating heated air rather than direct heat from the heating elements, which is a more drying heat. While there are many benefits to cooking with convection there are no guidelines to cooking with convection noted in recipes which of course makes it confusing for the user. 

Planning to cook several meals at one in a convection oven.

Here at Convection Kitchen you will find a resource in our Plan section to help you better understand the tools you are cooking with as well as guidelines to help you benefit from cooking with convection and steam ovens. 

The Oven Size and Shape Will Influence the Outcome

I have been teaching people how to cook with their convection ovens for over 20 years and have cooked in a variety of ovens, both electric and gas, very large ovens and very small ovens. Each oven cooked differently, but by following the basic convection principles and paying attention to how each oven cooked I was able to achieve success cooking in each one.

Nowadays many people have two ovens of different sizes in their kitchens. A standard sized wall oven and a smaller cavity steam oven or convection microwave oven. While both ovens will cook really well, the timing and the mode selection will vary because of the different shape, size and cooking modes in each oven.

Oven size and shape will influence the outcome

Understanding Convection Oven Modes

Recipes state an oven temperature and suggest timing; however, if your oven has a choice of cooking modes you have some thinking to do before you turn the oven on. Oven manufacturers provide useful information in the oven User Guide; nonetheless, you will find important information and tips in our Plan section to help you better understand how to choose the oven mode best suited for the food you are cooking.

In addition you will find useful information about the types of pans that work best for baking and roasting as well as suggestions about rack position. Once you have a better understanding of how your oven cooks or bakes in each mode you will know how to benefit from the oven modes and be able to trouble-shoot any cooking fails.

Benefits of Convection Cooking

Here are some ways you will benefit from cooking in a convection oven:

  • Food cooked in convection has better moisture retention.

  • Large roasts such as turkey cook much faster in convection, no turning or basting is necessary.

  • Soaking meats in a wet brine is not necessary as meat will not dry out as much when roasted in convection. However, roasting on a rack in a shallow pan is essential for good results.

  • Multiple racks of cookies or other baked items can be baked at one time without having to rotate or turn the pans.  However, the recipe temperature should be reduced by 25 F when baking in convection.

  • A complete meal can be cooked at one time with no transfer of flavor, simplifying meal preparation.

Understanding Steam Oven Cooking

Steam ovens became an option for the residential kitchen over 20 years ago and in the last ten years have become fairly mainstream. There is definitely a familiarization process when learning to cook in a steam oven, and we understand how important knowledgeable guidance is. While you don’t  need special recipes, it does help to think a little about the science of how the food is being cooked so you can fine tune your results. 

The ability to steam multiple foods at one time instead of cooking in multiple saucepans is a definite advantage when cooking in the Steam mode. Foods roasted in the combination Convection Steam mode have remarkable flavor and texture as well as nutrient retention.

Steam-oven cooking on multiple racks.
Cooking on multiple racks in a steam oven

Some steam ovens feature techniques that have been used by chefs for many years that have become mainstream and opened up new ways of cooking familiar foods. Low temperature cooking with a reverse sear, and sous vide cooking are two techniques that have given us a greater appreciation of the benefits of cooking with lower temperatures. 

Convection and steam ovens were developed for professional food service to better cope with volume cooking and to provide tools for restaurants to achieve reliable results. Residential versions of these ovens were developed because chefs noticed the improved results when food was cooked in these ovens, and I can honestly say understanding how to use these ovens will make you a better cook. It just takes paying attention to your appliances and doing some planning rather than blindly following a recipe.

I hope you will take advantage of the educational resources here Convection Kitchen to learn how to get the best out of your convection and steam ovens.

Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

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