Rediscovering the Joy of Home Cooking

Natural gas offers home chefs professional-level results with a reliable and affordable fuel source.

The COVID-19 pandemic spurred a new interest in home cooking, with consumers purchasing more cooking products and expanding their repertoire in the kitchen.

“People are cooking more at home and are more open to trying things they may not have considered making themselves before,” said Ann Muth, director of marketing for BlueStar, a manufacturer of high-performance cooking appliances for the home. “We’ve seen more wok cooking at home. A  lot of people are doing some longer-length cooking, for example, simmering for hours. Many of the chefs we work with have been on overtime for the last year and are cranking out content because people are hungry for more recipes and things to try.”

The resurgence in home cooking has led to an increased interest in pro-style ranges and manufacturers to design more sustainable products in a lower carbon footprint, according to Reviewed, an online magazine for product testing and reviews.

Even as vaccines and loosening restrictions signal a return to a more normal lifestyle for many Americans, the increased interest in home cooking is likely to stay, Muth said.

“One of the big barriers to cooking at home is people just don’t think they can do it or don’t think they have the time to do it,” she said. “But they’ve been doing it for the last year-and-a-half, so it may feel more accessible to them and make them more open to trying a new recipe they wouldn’t have considered before.”

Cooking Control

For the serious home cook, natural gas stoves and ovens offer pro-style results. With natural gas, the temperature can be adjusted to moment-to-moment, making it easier to get precisely the temperature needed for every stage of cooking.

“You have instantaneous flexibility when cooking with gas,” Muth said. “When you turn your burners on, they’re on, and when you turn them off, they’re off. You can get them really high, and you can get them really low. All of that control is important to home cooks and important to get the results you want.”

Getting the best results with a gas stovetop requires choosing the right size pan for the size of the burner head.

“You never want the flames creeping up the side of your pot or your pan,” Muth said. “It’s a fine line. You want even distribution where the flame is covering the full bottom surface of the pot or pan, but you don’t want it going up the side.”

Gas cooktops can be retrofitted with accessories such as grill space, infrared griddles, and functional cutting boards, according to HGTV, a pay television channel featuring home improvement content. Some manufacturers have begun implementing Bluetooth0enabled functionality to turn on task lighting and ventilation when the stove is in use and sync clocks on kitchen devices.

Natural gas ovens tend to have more moisture because of the humidity released into the oven cavity during combustion. This extra moisture can be particularly helpful when cooking meat or poultry, making it less likely to dry out even during extended cooking periods.

Because of the extra moisture in natural gas ovens, cooks will want to make sure the oven is fully preheated.

“People wonder why their first batch of cookies is terrible, but the rest are fine. Your oven just wasn’t ready yet,” Muth said. “Preheating is really important. When you walk into the kitchen and you know you’re going to bake something, turn on the oven to the temp you need.”

Muth recommends that cooks rotate pans, and sometimes even racks, midway through the cooking process to get even baking. Consumers should also consult the manual for their ovens to see if the manufacturer has recommendations for which types of foods should be placed on which racks.

In addition to more precise cooking, cooking with natural gas costs about half as much as cooking with electricity. Not only is natural gas cheaper than electricity, but heat from natural gas is also distributed more evenly, allowing food to cook quicker, further reducing fuel costs, according to the Blue Flame Alliance, a consortium of utilities, food service equipment manufacturers, gas industry associations, national accounts, and trade allies organized to be a source of gas solutions for the commercial segment.

Muth said cooks should also make sure the kitchen has good ventilation to maintain the cleanliness and health of air in the home.

“With BlueStar or any pro-style appliance, you really want to have ventilation to suck out some of the extra heat, smoke, and odors,” she said. “Ventilation is a really important component in the cooking experience.”

This article was originally published in the Fall/Winter 2021 issue of Natural Living magazine, and was written . To read more articles about the benefits of natural gas in this issue, click here.