All About The Aga Range: A Kitchen Classic
What's an Aga Stove?
Also known as an Aga cooker, or an Aga range, an Aga is a brand of cast-iron stored-heat cooking stove. Known for it's distinctive appearance (it has as many as four separately contained oven compartments and no knobs or dials) it was invented in the 1920s by a Nobel Prize winning physicist and engineer, Gustaf Dalen.
Originating in Sweden, the Aga has been made in the UK by the Aga Rangemaster Group for over 80 years. Each Aga stove is handcrafted to the buyer's specifications in Coalbrookdale, Shropshire, England, and then shipped to it's destination where it must be installed by a certified Aga fitter. Aga Rangemaster is a public company traded on the London Stock Exchange (LSE:AGA).
Why are Agas So Popular?
For many, the Aga stove is symbolic of a certain type of British country lifestyle - think Downton Abbey. Given it's larger than average size, the traditional Aga requires a spacious kitchen, and most often becomes the centerpiece or hearth of the upper-middle-class country home. (More modern and streamlined Aga ranges are now available as described further in this article). A place to gather round while the kettle boils, the roast cooks, the gravy simmers....dogs curled up basking in the gentle warmth radiating from the Aga's cast-iron sides, while pullovers and other clothes dry up on top.
As it hasn't changed much at all in looks over the past 80 years, an Aga is a reminder of a gentler, unhurried time. There are no dials, knobs, or digital indicators. The Aga cooker is made of cast iron,and works on the principal of stored heat. The radiant heat source is constantly keeping the cast iron heated, therefore it is always ready to use and provides multi-directional heating, cooking or baking food evenly without drying it out. And there are no interior elements, so roasting or baking pans can be placed directly on the oven floor.
The Aga Cooker as a Heat Source
Your Aga is going to generate heat. While it may not be enough to heat your entire home, it will make your kitchen warm and cozy, so if you live in a warm climate, you may want to consider another type of cooker or stove. While the Aga is always ready to cook, according to Aga Rangemaster it is NOT constantly using fuel. There is a thermostatic control which monitors the temperature in the different ovens, and only uses fuel as required to maintain the constant temperature in each oven. As there are no digital indicators of temperature on the Aga stove, here are the approximate temperatures of each oven component:
- Warming Oven - 150 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit
- Simmering Oven - 225 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit
- Baking Oven - 350 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Roasting Oven - 475 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
Please see your Aga cookbook for more tips and trips to cooking with your new Aga stove.
Aga Cookers: Current Models
While it's appearance has remained relatively unchanged, Aga Rangemaster has introduced several different versions of its legendary radiant heat Aga cooker. Every Aga has it's own small heat source,a patented burner, which heats the cast iron which in turn cooks the food - a method known as radiant heating. Each Aga stove also has at least two oven compartments and burners. Here is a brief rundown of the current models available:
- 4 Oven Model. Weight is 1290 pounds and should be spread over 10 feet. Available in gas (natural or liquid propane), or electric. Is equipped with Roasting, Baking, Simmering, and Warming Ovens, Warming Plate, Boiling Plate, and Simmering Plate, (the Boiling Plate and Simmering Plate have insulated covers which keep the heat inside your Aga stove when closed). The Boiling Plate and Simmering Plate each have enough room for 2 to 3 mid sized saucepans.
- 3 Oven Model. Weight is 1052 pounds and should be spread over 7 feet. Available in natural gas or liquid propane. It does not have the Warming Plate, and the Simmering/Warming Ovens are combined.
- 2 Oven Model. Weight is 900 pounds and should be spread over 7 feet. Available in gas (natural or liquid propane), or electric. Combined Roasting/Baking Oven and Simmering/Warming Oven. Also has the Boiling Plate and Simmering Plate with insulated Covers.
Dimensions: Both the 2 and 3 Oven Model are 37 and 7/8 inches wide, 26 and 3/4 inches deep, and 33 and 1/2 inches high. The 4 Oven Model Aga is 58 and 7/8 inches wide.
If you require a smaller oven, consider the Aga Companion. It's dimensions are 23 and 1/2 inches wide, by 23 and 3/4 inches deep and 33 1/2 inches high. While the knobs and dials might not satisfy the Aga purist, it has been designed to fit in with current kitchen cabinet designs, and is a duel fuel range.
Alternately, should you prefer even more cooking flexibility, consider the Aga Module which can be added on to your 2, 3, or 4 oven Aga stove. Please see the Aga website for further details.
Installing Your Aga
Whether you are building a new home or considering an Aga for your current residence, it is imperative that you arrange for a certified Aga installer to survey your kitchen and prepare an installation plan PRIOR to making any renovation or installation choices.
Colour choice, suitability of surrounding cabinets and countertops, re-enforcing floors and load-bearing issues, venting and fuel options and requirements; these are all issues which should be carefully analyzed and addressed early on in your Aga adventure.
If you are in Canada, your new Aga can range in price from about $9,000 to upwards of $40,000 CAD, depending on the size, fuel type, installation and renovation requirements,and options.
Your Aga Stove Can Replace These Kitchen Appliances
- Electric Kettle
- Electric Griddle
- Slow Cooker
- Coffee Maker
- Popcorn Maker
- Pizza Stone
- Rice Steamer
Martha Stewart Demonstrating Aga Cooking
Aga Ranges: Duel Fuel or Electric Range Models?
Bowing to consumer demand for oven solutions that look like the traditional radiant heat Agas but with modern functionality, Aga also carries three lines of Duel Fuel and Electric Range Models: the Legacy Line, the Six-Four Series, and Aga Rangemaster's newest introduction, the Pro+ with Energy Saving Panel, which is targeted to the environmentally conscious purchaser.
- Pro+ Billing it as the "world's most versatile 36 inch self-clean pro range...and one of the largest ovens on the market", Aga Rangemaster is hoping to attract the environmentally-conscious amateur (and professional) chefs. Each Pro+ is outfitted with five burners on the stovetop, one large glass door for the full sized oven, (also has convection oven ability) and an intriguing Energy Saving Panel, which, when inserted, will divide the full sized 4.9 cubic foot Aga oven into a smaller and more energy efficient 2.4 cubic foot oven, thereby reducing fuel consumption by approximately 30%. It also has a Sabbath Mode option, for Jewish cooks and chefs who do not wish to ignite a flame on a holy day. Available in four colours.
- Legacy The Legacy Line of Aga Ranges is touted as a more contemporary looking and energy efficient cooking appliance than the traditional stored-heat Aga cooker. Available in seven colours, the Legacy has knobs and as many as six burners, conventional and convectional oven availability and does offer the choice of 3 or 4 separate oven compartments. The Legacy Aga is available as a Duel Fuel or Electric Range.
- Six-Four Series The Six Four is a traditional Aga in disguise. With six gas burners and four electric ovens, it is NOT on all the time like the radiant heat Agas. And at 463 pounds it is significantly lighter than it's cast-iron sister.
Aga Stoves on The Web
- Luxury Ranges, Refrigeration, Kitchen Appliances : AGA
Visit this site to find an AGA dealer near you.
- The Aga: Cooks\' favourite cooking contraption - thestar.com
The Aga is the grandfather of high-end ovens. The always-on, always-warm cooking machine is celebrated for its unmatched prowess in slow-cooking simmering and baking.
Aga in America
Famous Fans of The Aga Stove
- Jamie Oliver
- Martha Stewart
- Elizabeth Hurley
- Prince Charles
- Shania Twain
- Sharon Stone
- David Ogilvy (an advertising salesman extraordinaire - an original "Mad Men" type who wrote the classic sales manual "The Theory and Practice of Selling the Aga Cooker")
- Claudia Schiffer
- David Cameron
- Nick Nairn
- Natasha Hamilton
- Emma Bridgewater