Cleaning the oven is one of those dreaded household tasks that most people avoid. Or at least I hope that most people avoid it, and that I’m not the only shirker. Cleaning the oven tops my list of “I-would-rather-be-bitten-by-fleas-but-I’d-better-do-it-anyway” jobs.
Baking can certainly lead to a dirty oven. Pizza night often means spilled mozzarella cheese in the bottom of the oven. Since we replaced our oven last year, I’m diligent about keeping it clean. Oven care is so very necessary. These appliances do not come cheap. Regular maintenance can mean the difference between a long oven life and a short one.
Dangers of a dirty oven:
Not only does regular cleaning mean longer oven life, there are also safety concerns associated with dirty ovens. These safety concerns include risk of fire, smoke inhalation, reduced efficiency, undercooked foods, and altered flavors in baked goods.
Fire & Smoke Inhalation:
Let’s address the first major concern- the risk of fire. Food and grease that have dripped and been burnt onto the inside of the oven and its window will continue to burn whenever it is used. The first clue that you have this buildup can be seen in any smoke that leaves the oven when you open the door. There shouldn’t be smoke coming from your oven. 😉 Not only is this buildup a fire hazard, those smoke particles can be detrimental to your health. Breathing in that smoke can be dangerous.
Reduced Efficiency, Undercooked Foods, Altered Flavors:
The dirty buildup on the oven will increase cooking and baking times. This will mean that your meals will take longer to cook, thus costing more in operating costs. Stick an oven thermometer inside and see how far off your oven is from your intended temperature. Keep that oven thermometer in your oven to keep tabs on the temperature.
You may also find that in order to cook a roast or similar dish fully, you will need to rotate it during the cooking time. The meat should not need to be rotated for even cooking. This is a sign that the heating vents are blocked. Unless you are checking the temperature of tonight’s chicken dish, you may be undercooking the meat. We all know the dangers of undercooked meats. (be sure to visit the last page of this post to download a free printable chart containing the minimum temperatures for cooked meats!)
A dirty oven will also alter the flavors of the foods, particularly baked goods. This continuous burning of spills and grime creates nasty carbon-based fumes. These fumes will alter the taste of bread, cakes, and other baked goods.
Now that we’ve established the importance of maintaining a clean oven, on the next page we’ll explore that 3 common methods of cleaning it.
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