Electric vs. Gas, What to Do?

Okay, not sure how many of you caught Harold McGee’s terrifying article in the Times today, but he has me positively rethinking my entire kitchen remodel. Could it be that my attachment to cooking with gas is purely emotional?

I have had the great good fortune to cook with gas stoves and ovens in many an apartment rental and in one restaurant kitchen. I’ve always preferred it. Now that I own my first house and am about to embark on a kitchen remodel, naturally I was going to ditch the electric cooker and bring on the gas. Not so fast, says Harold. And when Mr. McGee speaks, I listen.

Here’s Harold’s kicker:

“According to the United States Department of Energy, a gas burner delivers only 35 to 40 percent of its heat energy to the pan; a standard electrical element conveys about 70 percent. Anyone thinking about kitchen renovation should know that induction cooktops, which generate heat directly within the pan itself, are around 90 percent efficient.”

This paragraph sent me into a lunchtime research tizzy today at work. I found this helpful article, which answered a lot of questions about energy use, but I remain stunned in the headlights of electric vs. gas. I get the whole induction thing, but my brain is more wrapped up in the basics: electric or gas? As you might imagine, forums on said topic are all over the place.

What Would Thomas Keller Do?

I know the real answer has nothing to do with TK, and that I am, at best, an occasionally obsessive and very amateur home cook. I have already decided absolutely no stainless steel (if there’s anything I couldn’t hate more it’s my stainless sink that never looks clean even when it is), contrary to every magazine photo I’ve seen in the last ten years. Brands like Viking and Wolf have more to do with status than any actual cooking I might do on the thing. JennAir and Kitchen Aid are fine with me. But this electric/gas thing…that’s a serious question.

I should mention that this stove/oven slide-in will be accompanied by a microwave/convection oven, thus giving me the potential of baking cookies in the one and turkey in the other.

I remember that the gas oven in the restaurant had a serious hot spot that we constantly had to watch and we could never count on the temperature being accurate. My current (cheapo) electric oven also has a hot spot, though it’s not as bad as the aforementioned, and the oven temperature is pretty accurate. I like that gas is fast (seemingly anyway) and visual. But I have liked my electric’s ability to simmer and melt things; slow and low cooking is more difficult with gas. I also like the easy cleaning of the lame-ass glasstop with all its baked-on stains. I have no intention of reselling this house anytime soon, so I am making this decision solely on my personal preference. We don’t currently have a gas line to the house, so that is an additional expense; but I’m willing to spend on the things I really want.

But what do I really want?

(Read Part Two of this post here.)

1 Comment

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One response to “Electric vs. Gas, What to Do?

  1. Great post!!! keep up the good work… I think you have help me avoid the bloggers block that I felt over the past week.
    Joe maltase

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