Energy Efficient Cooking
The holidays are upon us! This means dropping temperatures and more time spent indoors, often entertaining, which usually implies friends, food, and fun. At any holiday get together, there is most likely an area of the house that is off limits to guests- the kitchen. It’s really in your best interest to stay out of the way in there unless you offer an extra set of hands. Cooking, especially for many guests, can be a frantic and unpredictable endeavor. Things get burnt, take longer to cook than expected, and often there are not enough burners or oven space to accommodate all of your needs in the time you’re given. Well, let Socket offer you some useful and energy efficient tips to help improve the experience.
First, STOP PEEKING! When cooking, it’s still a struggle to not open the oven and look inside. Think about the concept of escaped heat; every time you open the oven when it’s heating up or cooking, heat rushes free and only extends your wait time! There is, on average, a 25° reduction in heat each time you do this. That’s a huge loss of heat! That’s especially crippling if you’re cooking on a low heat like 250-300°. It takes energy (and $!) for the oven to work its way back up to the appropriate temperature and the more we peek, the longer we end up waiting for our food. Open that door only when necessary.
Second, PREHEAT APPROPRIATELY. Preheating is actually pretty unnecessary when it comes to food with longer cook times. If you’re going to be cooking something for longer than 1 hour, Socket suggests skipping the preheat instructions. This will save a lot of energy. Plus you won’t have to open the oven door after 15-30 minutes of preheating just to lose 25° or more while loading in the dish. In addition to this, if you remain strong in resisting the urge to peek at your food, you can go ahead and turn off the oven 10-15 minutes before the recommended cook time. It sounds strange but the residual heat in the oven will continue to cook the food while saving you money on your energy bill. Try it out! If on the off chance it didn’t fully cook the worst that can happen is you have to heat up the oven for a few more minutes.
Thirdly, GOOD COOKWARE IS KEY. When purchasing pots and pans it’s important to consider the type and quality of the products. With things like casserole dishes and brownie pans, Socket always uses glass or ceramic cookware. These hold heat far better than metal ones and a lot of the time you can even decrease the oven temperature by 15-20° for dishes with long cook times. Other huge considerations are the frying and sauce pans you use. It is tempting to use the cheapest set of frying pans you can find, but be warned, each one may have its own set of malfunctions. From handles melting or falling off, flames erupting from underneath with no cause to be found, and the ever-disturbing smell of a cheap plastic-metal hybrid slowly melting as you cook your morning eggs. Try to invest in some quality products, Socket could talk about frying pans and what to look for when buying one all day, but for the purposes of this article we’ll stick with one.
DON’T BUY WOBBLY PANS. You know what we’re talking about. You set the pan on the burner, pour some oil in and watch as it all drifts to one side (usually the handle side). This is not only annoying to deal with but it’s also costing you energy. If you have a gas stove, you’re lucky; the whole pan will heat up regardless of wobbliness. Unfortunately, with an electric stove, the heat will only transmit through direct contact. This usually leaves half the pan without direct heat, increasing cook time and cooking unevenly. Trust Socket -- get some pans that do not wobble.
This brings us to our next tip, DON’T FORGET YOUR CROCKPOT. This little miracle of an appliance has helped Socket tremendously over the years. Not only does it use a significantly smaller amount of energy but it can cook almost anything you can think of! Macaroni and Cheese, Mashed Potatoes, Hot Chocolate, Mulled Wine, Cranberry Sauce, and Vegetable Dishes galore! This won’t just save you time and energy; it’s like having a whole extra set of hands in the kitchen! SOCKET can’t stress enough how essential a crockpot is to holiday cooking. They can usually be found for around $20-60 and will likely be one of the best investments you’ll ever make.
Next we have, REMEMBERING YOUR BURNERS. You’ve got to clean your stove burners; Socket likes using a baking soda and water mixture to get the job done but there are other methods available. Removing the dirt and grime from your burners will yield shorter cook times and save you energy! If your burners are aluminum, consider upgrading them to steel next time they need some TLC. Steel retains heat better than aluminum, which contributes to even shorter cook times.
Finally, Socket tends to forget about this one until feigning heat stroke while standing over the stove in the kitchen, TURN DOWN YOUR THERMOSTAT. With your oven, stove, microwave, crockpot, and anything else you’ve got turned on in the kitchen, there will be plenty of heat to keep the place at a reasonable temperature. We’re not saying go crazy and cut the whole heating system off, that’s a whole other waste of energy we won’t get into today, but turning your average temperature down a few degrees will help keep your home at a balanced temperature while you prepare the feast. Once all of your cooking is complete and your oven turned off, you can also crack the oven door open a bit. This will draw any left over heat into your house and boost the temperature up a few more degrees before clicking the thermostat back on. Remember to be cautious when doing this and remove any flammable material close by like stray dish towels and oven mitts.
Cooking can be a huge ordeal but by utilizing these tips you could save yourself not only money, but unneeded stress. Give them a try -- Socket guarantees you’ll end up using at least one of these tips every time you cook.