Eat Better, Live Better
My mother wants an AGA cooker.
She was introduced to the brand in a romance novel, of all places (Rosamunde Pilcher, I believe), and, intrigued, started researching the stoves. The more she read, the more she liked, and now she's piqued my interest as well.
AGAs are not only beautiful, they are absolutely unique. Agas are the only ranges that cook using radiant heat. AGA lovers claim this results in better tasting food because the absorption of radiant heat seals the surface of the cooking food, locking in flavor and juices, while traditional convection ovens, which work by moving hot air, tend to dry food out.
Additionally, because AGAs are always on, there is no need for preheating. You simply start cooking as soon as you are ready.
As you might have guessed, one major difference between AGA cookers and conventional ranges is that the temperatures are preset. AGAs come in two, three, and four door models. Two door models have a burner, roasting oven, and simmering oven. Three door models add a baking oven, and four doors add a warming oven and warming plate. All models have a boiling plate and simmering plate on top. All ovens and plates are preset at certain temperatures, ranging from about 800 degrees for the boiling plate to a gentle 120 for the warmer.
Although this results in some adjustments to cooking styles, it has advantages in terms of energy efficiency. Even though the AGA is always on, it is a relatively efficient appliance because once it has heated to proper temperatures (a process that can take up to 24 hours), it does not require very much energy to keep the heat steady, thanks to its clever, heat storing design, resulting in faster cooking times for many foods.
This does have disadvantages in hot climates, however. The AGA can be used to heat a house, and although its heat is slow and steady due to its good insulation, it can turn into a war with your air conditioner during a hot summer. My mother's dream home on Washington's Olympic Peninsula would likely handle an AGA just fine; her current home in the less temperate Midwest... possibly not so much. It is possible to lower the temperature of the AGA, but this may increase cooking time.
Another disadvantage of AGAs is that they must be serviced annually to prevent carbon deposits from building up in the burner.
AGAs come in electric, diesel, kerosene, propane, and natural gas models.
An Aga 4-Oven Cooker
Martha Stewart Demonstrates AGA Cooking (circa '85)
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