Just to add to all that has already been said, I've had a KA K5ss (5 qt. lift bowl model) for two decades and keep it out on my counter because I use it frequently.
You asked about getting a KitchenAid from Costco. Costco (and Costco.com) has carried a couple of models. The current one is a "Proline 600" with a liftbowl and seems to run about $350. Coupons often take the price below $300. The tilt-head models often can be had for less and I've seen the "classic" at WalMart recently for under $200. It will do a pretty good job with pizza and bread doughs and handle most other mixing tasks with aplomb, at least for quantities approriate to its size and power. If you have access to Cooks illustrated, check out their mixer ratings.
As for whether or not it is worth having one, that can be hard to answer "yes" or "no" rather than "it depends." Stand mixers (whether by KA, Cuisinart or whomever) are merely tools. They come in varying sizes and capacities. You match the tool to your needs and budget.
When it comes to bread doughs, breadmakers actually do a pretty decent job when making small batches of dough. Small being (to me) one or at most 2 pound batches. If the only real dough making you do is for small batches of bread, I'd say just keep using the bread maker for mixing them. (Heck, King Arthur Flour's test kitchen touts using Zojirushi breadmakers for preparing small loaves which are then baked in a regular oven.)
For many other tasks (say, whipping cream) a hand mixer, a powered whisk, or even a hand whisk may be fine. How much such stuff are you planning on making and how frequently will you be doing so? If you make enough cookies for, say, two baking sheets, the power of a stand mixer can be big convenience. But, if you only make batches of six cookies to bake in a Breville Smart Oven, a stand mixer will be overkill and will go largely unsued.
They are good for mixing things that hand mixers and whisks won't do as easily and great for things like heavier doughs and batters and also for letting things mix while you attend to something else.
If you don't make meatloafs, terrines, sausages and such -- which, as the vegetarian, you won't --- then you don't care about the grinder attachments. I will say in response to some of the other posters, that the KA meat grinder attachment seemed adequate to me when I used one. One might note that Michael Ruhlman used a Kitchen Aid grinder attachment for the meat grinding for his book Charcutiere. But, personally, I've found that I'm far more likely to use a tool when it makes my job easier and I've found a powered, dedicated grinder much better for the 10# batches I grind for burgers, terrines, meatloads, sausages and etc. I do that often enough that the dedicated tool is a boon for me where it might be a boat anchor for somebody less interested in that kind of cooking.
So also is it with having a stand mixer versus whisks, spoons, and hand held mixers.
If you like grinding your own grains for flours, KA makes a decent grain grinder attachment. For about 16 years, I've been using mine to make nut flours in addition to grind wheat and rye berries etc. for whole-grain breads. I've been using this attachment for about 18 years, but it is one of those minor conveniences which is an afterthought rather than a primary reason for buying the stand mixer.
I don't own a KA pasta roller and extruder, but I've used a friend's roller from time to time. I would find it a useful convenience if I regularly made fresh pasta. The KA pasta roller was about like getting a motor for the small, home-model pasta roller I once had (an Atlas, IIRC). No easier to clean, but rolling and cutting the pasta was definitely much faster and easier, as was mixing the dough. If nothing else, there is a great convenience in having the rollers rolling while I could use both hands to drape the pasta sheets through the rollers. (Of course, somebody's Italian grandmother is now rolling in her grave because using a machine is is so inauthentic and tha pasta won't taste right! So, I guess I am a barbarian with no taste or standards.)
Never tried the pasta extruder or the ravioli attachments, so I can't speak to those uses.
As for blowing out KA mixers and the "reports in baking forums," it seems to me that some of those bitter laments are from folks with lemons (inevitably there are some in every product line) and from others who tried regularly mixing overlarge batches for the mixer capacity and did not understand that KA mixers have a built-in overload protection in the form of a sacrificial gear that strips out when the mixer is too heavily loaded. It is meant to break when the abuse gets too great, and the repair is cheap and easy. I blew out my 20 y.o. K5ss about seven years ago when mixing seven pounds of rye bread. That was the kind of task for which an Anskarum Assistent is well suited, but I was cutting corners. As it turned out, the replacement gear was $4.50 and replacement took me, maybe, 20 minutes, including gathering and putting away the tools.
Read up on KA mixers for any time and you will inevitably run across people who vehemently insist that current KAs are now crap because they don't use "all metal" gears like the KA models had before the revered Hobart sold the line to Whirlpool in 1986. In point of fact, the Hobarts used the same sacrificial gear and fail-safe system. It is an inexpensive, extremely reliable fail-safe protection.
If keeping the mixer on the counter is a problem, then the Bosch and Anskarum Assistent mixers are considerably lighter and easier to stash out of the way when not in use. There are learning curves and the prices are higher than some stand mixers. The Bosch Universal, IIRC, is currently running about $400 and the Anskarum Assistent is around $800. Kitchenaids run the gamut from under $250 (sometimes $200) for the "Classic" models on up to $550 for the biggest 7 quart "Proline" liftbowl models. (There are some commercial models that are more costly. The smallest Hobart commercial model, the N50, which was mentioned in another posting her, is a real beast of machine. It also priced at something north of $2k last time I checked.
Your design does include make-up air (MUA) of some kind? When that 1200 cfm hood sucks the small dog off the floor, you don't want it to be backdrafting CO from gas water heaters and furnaces. Also, with Austin's long hot seasons, you might be pumping an awful lot of conditioned air out of the house unless you have suitable MUA.
Also, for a big range, I'll second Wekick's suggestion about having a look at Blue Star, as well as American Range's residential stoves and Capitol's Culinarian line. The manufacturer of Blue Star (Prizer-Painter) was the contractor for Garland back when Garland was selling residential ranges. (Garland, as you note, is back to exclusively commercial products and Prizer Painter is selling a slightly unpdated version of the residential range under the "Blue Star" brand.)
Both Blue Star and Capitol's "Culinarian" lines have had strong followings on the gardenweb appliances site, and those threads could be worth checking out if you have not already done so and would be interested. (For searching gardenweb, I have found the site's search engine to be hit or miss, and have had better luck running my searches in google with "+ gardenweb" included in the search string.)
Five Star seems not to have had much discussion of late, here, at gardenweb, or elsewhere. It has been made by Brown Stove Works in Tennessee for a couple of decades. When Viking started out several decades ago, it subcontracted some stove production to Brown. After Viking ramped up its own production, Brown kept making a similar stove which it sold under its "Five Star" brand. Today, the Five Stars are pretty much the same stove Brown has been selling for the last decade. It is one of the least expensive 48" ranges available in North America. Owner postings seem to have been relatively few, but some report problems with set-up and warranty support. It would be a good idea to check on service availability in your area.
The only less expensive 48" all gas range that I know of is is the NXR. The NXR stoves are a sort of knock-off of the old pre-SZ Wolf residential ranges. The are built with a lot of the same parts Wolf uses, only installed into a body and oven fabricated by Hyxion Metal Works in China and then shipped to the importer in California. The usable space in the ovens is a little deeper than on the Wolf stoves but, as Wekick said of the Wolf, the convention fan housing protrudes into the back of the space to the extent that you would not be able to fit a full size sheet pan in the larger oven. Austek in Austin is a distributor and vendor and may have one on the floor to look at. There are a number of long and informative threads about 30" and 36" NXR ranges on gardenweb (where most of us owners have been pleased) but I've only seen a couple of postings on the 48-inch model, one on gardenweb and one on Costco.com. FWIW, both posters reported receiving defective 48" units and having had a terrible time with support services in getting replacement or repair. If you consider getting one, I'd say to buy it from Costco because of the "absolute-satisfaction full-refund" guarantee. Never mind shipping damage issues or warrany support, if you just don't like the stove, you can take it back for a full refund after several months. Can't get that kind of protection from most vendors.
Not Kaleo, but every portable induction unit I've ever seen does the cycling. That is pretty much the nature of all readily available electric burners including induction
The difference between units is how well the cycling is managed.
What I've seen with the less expensive units is that the cycles seems to be longer and less well managed by whatever sensors and software, so you may see simmers turning briefly to boils as I'm guessing you saw with the old Sunpenton. FWIW, I never had any such problems with Cooktek "Heritage" MC1800 that I used but, with the current Max Burton, it seems to vary with the pan. I see it some with with smaller sauce pans but not with larger pans. For pressure cooking beans in a 6 qt. Kuhn-Rikon pc, I found no cycling problems once I started using "250" on the "temp" setting scale rather than the integer settings.
For a discussion of how well the Vollrath 59500 handles the cycling, you might want to have a look at the discussion in the May 7, 2013 customer review by daniel_I_miller_md on this amazon vendor site:
Note that he has a couple of posts and I'm referring to his May 7 one. You will need to scroll a bit more that half-way down the page to find it. Detailed discussion.
Also, fwiw, the users there confirm that Vollrath is using a six-inch diameter coil. You also might have a look at the post by dmz in this chowhound thread from last year (last post in the thread):
What you get with a 220v unit is higher output for high-heat cooking and boiling -- they generally run 2500 watts and 3500 watts. That, of course, requires a 208/220/240 volt line but a 2500 watt induction hob gets you a bit (maybe 15% to 20%) more effective/usable power than from a 2500 watt burner on a cheap coil electric stove. If you get one of the 3500 watt models, you are way out of the cheap stove league.
I haven't used any Vollrath units, but have used a commercial 2500 watt/240v Cooktek Heritage and found it noticably faster to heat than a 2500watt electric coil burner if I were boiling water in a stockpot.
That's much less of a deal when talking about stir-frying and searing because you'll be running those at temps within the same range on the 2500 watt units as on the the 120v/1800watt units.(If you don't turn down the power, it is a very short trip for your onions to go from caramelized to carbonized.)
So, as wattacetti says, there isn't a huge difference in heat-up for fry pans and such.
When it came to boiling water in stockpots, the 2500 watt/240v Cooktek was noticably faster than the 1800 watt/120v Cooktek MC1800 heritage that I used for a couple of months some years ago. Not OMG, absolutely-blew-the-doors-off faster, but maybe about 20% with larger pans. Basically, we're talking about differences akin to those between using a 1500 watt coil burner and a 2500 watt coil burner. With smaller pans, such as 2 quart sauce pans, no big deal. Imperceptible differences. Bigger deal with bigger pans.
Speaking of pan size, cowboyardee, what sizes are you looking to use? Twelve-inch cast-iron, carbon steel or stainless fry pans? Or ten-inch or smaller fry pans? Big dutch ovens and stockpots or regular sauce pans? (Bear in mind that its the pan base that matters for sizing to induction burners, not the maximum diameter across the top.)
If you are thinking of bigger pans, there another difference between units that may help think through what to get. Most of the less expensive, residential type portable induction units have a 6" induction coil. Virtually all of the Chinese made units are this size. If you want to sear in a 12-inch cast iron pan, you might find there's an outer ring of an inch or so that doesn't seem as hot as the rest of the pan. (Same problem as when using big cast-iron pan on a 6" coil burner). The full-on commercial induction portables by Cooktek and Garland have 8" or 9" induction coils in them, so better suited to pots and pans with larger bases.
I don't know for sure about about the Vollrath or the Viking, but I think I read that they used 6" coils in the 1800 watt/120v models. Actually, the current 1800 watt Vollrath might be the same or almost the same as the Viking. IIRC, Viking sourced their induction burners from Luxine until Vollrath bought Luxine a couple or three years ago and converted Luxine into the Vollrath division that produces its induction units. My recollection is that the Luxine factory is in China (although all of other Vollrath products are made in Wisconsin, New York and Mexico.) Most of the Chinese made induction burners in this country have only 6" coils.
As for searing meat and mushrooms with the residential models, it will again be like working with a six-inch, 1800 watt coil burner. You can get a pan plenty hot enough for searing and,if you don't care about boiling a gallon of water very quickly, they may be perfectly serviceable.(Again, think about the extent to which pan size may be an issue for you.)
Very workable for searing and sauces -- that was pretty much the conclusion that Cooks Illustrated reached when they tested some 1800 watt/120v units a couple of years ago. They basically liked the Viking and the Max Burton 6200 and favored the MB because it was so much less expensive. CI also thought the MB and Viking fine for simmering and saucemaking as well as higher heat applications but no big deal for boiling big pots of water.
As for adjustability, some models are better than others in the lower-priced residential lines. Some have only six or seven settings. (Are you old enough to remember push-button electric ranges?) The Max Burton has a 9 integer step power settings with a separate "temp" scale with another 10 steps that fall between the integer-step power settings, which gives you 19 steps in all. (Although these are called temperature settings, they are actually only just intermediate digital steps where some software engineer has tried to make a rough correlation to target cooking temps. If you want a simmer, the software engineers apparently feel that using a temp setting of 210F would seem more intuitive than a power setting of 2.5, say.)
I've found that my MB does a pretty good job with running a Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker and those PCs can be finicky about getting the temp right for maintaining pressure.
I can tell you from personal experience with the MB that you can get a cast iron pan plenty hot enough to burn the seasoning off a cast iron pan. With the Cooktek that I used, you could heat a cast iron pan to well over 500F for searing. Don't know if its is true, but somebody once claimed to have melted lead with one of the 2500 watt units, if that's the kind of thing that turns your crank.
Not all induction units are made in China, btw. Cooktek builds theirs in Chicago and Garland builds theirs in Canada (and both are an order of magnitude more expensive than anything else you might be considering.) Some of the European models are built in Fagor plants in Eastern Europe. I think some models are still made in Japan and Korea. (There's a post from Tanuki Soup somewhere here on chowhound about Japanese induction units). It just seems like a lot of the widely available but less expensive units come from China because they comoditified (is that a word?) induction for the East Asian market. We are getting the spill over here.
What do you get from some of the less expensive commercial 1800 watt units (Eurodib, Vollrath) that you can't get from the less expensive residential 1800 watt units? More control steps (finer control), stronger (and bigger) cases, more durable construction. For an analogy, think non-milspec laptop computers versus desktop towers versus workstation computers.
Eurodib, btw, has both a commercial 1800 watt unit (for about $370, IIRC) and a residential unit (for about $100).
As watacetti says, Vollrath has a semi-pro line called "Mirage Cadet 59300" which is roughly half the price ($230, IIRC) of the full commercial Mirage 59500 (which is the one with the digital knob and the 100 power setting steps.)
If you read further in the article, and also read the comments, you will see that there is a lot she likes about the Fissler pcs including a near non-stick stainless interior and a variety of convenience features. What she did not like were issues with where and how hard the steam release is vented, the seeming delicacy of some of the plastic parts, and some issues with replacement parts. It is worth reading the whole assessment and the comments section that is further down the page. There's an explanation of the "inadvertent damage," too.
To add to what Miss Priss just said, have you seen Laura Pazzaglia's website on pressure cooking and pressure cookers? She contributes here from time time and has discussed Fissler's pressure cookers, but her website is probably more convenient than searching for her posts here. If you haven't seen it, here's the link to her review pages.
All American makes pressure canners in some very large sizes including, IIRC, 30 quart capacities. The weight can be a problem for some ceramic/smoothtop cooking surfaces but the problem is more with the large diameter bases. Getting pots with diameters much larger than the burners can confuse the sensors used to control the cycling of the radiant burners and results in pans taking a very, very long time to come to a boil or not coming to a boil at all. Induction ranges don't use the same sensors as radiant smoothtops. Note that some induction ranges and built-in cooktops have an 11" and even 12" diameter hob.
As for the weight of the larger pots, that is mostly okay with the portable full-on commercial induction units from the likes of Cooktek and Garland, and, I suspect, Vollrath. A 30-qt. pot would likely be way too much for light duty units and not just because of the glasstop. I've put a 13" diameter 20-quart, induction capable stockpot on a Max Burton portable induction unit and did so without any problems in bringing the water to boil. (It did take a while), However,I've never tried this more than 8 or 9 quarts of water in the pot.
I can't really speak to using large pressure canners on induction ranges and built-in cooktops because, AFAIK, nobody makes large capacity induction-capable pressure canners. Folks on gardenweb, in brewing forums, and canning forums have reported using large induction capable stockpots --- using 20 and 30 quart quart stockpots --- Vollrath and Update being the brands I recall -- for brewing beer and water bath canning without problems on their induction ranges.
nofunlatte: are you looking at the induction hotplate to use for just the pressure canner?
If so, a 10.5 quart AA pressure canner won't be all that heavy except for the really cheap portable induction units which are probably too underpowered, anyway. You definitely want an 1800 watt unit but, for what you want to do, you do not necessarily need to spend $450 for a Vollrath 59500. Home-brewers report using 8 gallon kettles on Avantco and Max Burton/Athena units, Both in the $100 to $150 price range, IIRC, albeit less bombproof that the Vollrath.
Might work for pressure canning because you will have a lot less water in the pot when doing that. Still, you are basically converting the induction burner into a radiant electric unit. So why not just go for a regular portable radiant electric burner? Skip the the $29 units with 600 to 1000 watts from Walmart etc. because that is not enough power and the burner supports won't hold much weight, either. Check out the Cadco 1500 watt solid coil PCR1-S. A commercial unit, just as bombproof as the Vollrath induction unit, and less than a third of the cost. I wouldn't suggest this, nofunlatte, if you were looking at, say, one of the 20 or 30 quart AA units, but for the 10.5 qt. All American, it should be fine.
Only a few induction ranges require a 50 Amp 208/240v circuit. Most induction ranges only require 40 Amp, which has been the standard kitchen 208/240v circuit for electric stoves for decades. Of course, a new house might very well have a 50 Amp.
If you want to look into a separate induction cooktop and oven(s), then you'll need a different set up.
Most of the reports here for ranges have been about (IIRC) GE's slide-in and freestanding models (former models PHS925 and PHB925, current models PHS920 and PHB920), Electrolux slide-in (EW30IS6CJS) and Samsung's freestanding ranges (former FTQ307, current models NE595NOBSR and NE597NOPBSR). Generally very favorable.
Also, have you checked out the gardenweb appliances site? Dozens of first hand reports on and discussions of induction cooktops and ranges of various makes and models going back years. Recent discussions have covered the above models plus the Whirlpool double-oven induction range, the Frigidaire/Kenmore freestanding range, the Electrolux freestanding, and the new Bosch Benchmark induction slide-in. Here's a link to the site if you do not have it:
If you haven't been there before, the gardenweb search engine can be erratic. Best to go out to google, bing, etc. and try a search string like this "gardenweb + induction + range." Also click on the "more results" link under the first search results.
You can do the same thing here at chowhound, too.
Sorry, but not sure I followed which range you are talking about when you talk about top and bottom ovens. It sounded from the description as though there might be a Samsung induction range with twin ovens each with its own door as on the KItchenaid/Whirlpool/Maytag twin oven induction ranges. But maybe the flex panel for NE599NOPBSR model divides the oven into compartments of unequal size? This is not criticism, just curiosity.
That little user's guide has bedeviled new owners for years. Have a look at this thread from a couple of years ago:
A search will turn up several dozen more threads like that here and elsewhere going back at least a decade. LC really needs to fix that little book.
I haven't seen my LC's owner's guide in almost two decades --- that says something about the longevity of these pots, eh?
Rest assured that the pans can take a lot of heat and LC just wants you to bring them to heat more gradually than just throwing a cold pan on a burner and immediately cranking the heat to boost. Two, maybe three minutes at 3 or 4 on induction, then crank to whatever heat you want to use for your dish. (Yeah, yeah, I know induction ranges don't actually have cranks, but you know what I mean.) You do the same process with other kinds of burners and it just takes a bit longer than with induction. Have you seen this possibly somewhat clearer explanation from the LC website?
"Medium or low heat will provide the best results for cooking, including frying and searing. Allow the pan to heat gradually and thoroughly for even and efficient cooking results. Once the pan is hot, almost all cooking can be continued on lower settings.
"High heat temperatures should only be used for boiling water for vegetables or pasta, or for reducing the consistency of stocks or sauces. High heats should never be used to preheat a pan before lowering the heat for cooking. Cast iron retains heat so efficiently that overheating will cause food to burn or stick."
Note the "can be" rather than "must be" and that LC's worry is burning food not wrecking the pot. Basically, they don't want you treating the oven as though it were a wok. Beyond that, no worries.
Yeah, it really is that easy. Also, calibrating your oven is easier with a digtral electric oven control set-up than with gas. Do not believe the preheat indicators. They only measure air temps. Oven air hits the set point long before the rest of the oven is at steady state heating. Give the oven 25 minutes or more to fully preheat and stabiliize. True for both calibration and for baking.
If you check the oven thermometer at the precise time the pre-heat indicators say the oven is fully preheated, it isn't. The oven is still going to be cycling up and down for over 20 minutes until the wall are radiating back the correct temps. Set the oven for 350F and it will cylcing up to 375 to 425, the cooling down, then heating up, etc. It eventually reaches a kind od equilibrium and then will stay fairly steady. That is when you want to calibrate. In the "old days" we would mechanically reset teh dial position so that the detting matched the oven emp. Know, we twiddlew ith the digital stuff and basically program in a display of a more accurate temp.
I've had my KR for a couple of decades now but I want to add a caveat to this comment:
"'I'd also recommend a Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker . . . because they don't vent when they cook..."
In fact, they can and do vent. It won't be much --- often less than many other brands -- provided you take the time to learn where the burner heat works best. Until you use it enough with your stove, you will spend some time fiddling with heat settings or else the KR will vent a lot.
I think that was the problem that Cooks Illustrated had in their last comparison test of pressure cookers. They down-rated the Kuhn Rikon for having a higher evaporation rate than others, but I'd bet they just had the heat a little too high.
Laura Pazzaglia took CI to task for this in one of her her blog articles. With a properly set burner, she found that the KR models have about the lowest evaporation/venting losses she has seen.
She also points out that the burner heat needed to maintain pressure in a KR is often less than with other brands, meaning less heat in the kitchen on those hot summer days.
Both findings accord with my experience.
One additional thing about KR longevity is that the pressure regulating parts are easy to disassemble and check. Replacement springs, gaskets, seals, etc. are readily available from the KR website and other sources. You can keep those PCs going for many decades.
Um, ... don't you think it might be trying to get 3 or 4 deep frying uses that results in the oils going dark and bad?
Its the heat that kills the oil. A wok can get pretty darn hot, and very likely too hot for the oils to last very long. If you are getting to four uses, I think you are doing very well.
Are you thinking that you should get dozens of uses out of deep-fry oil because McD's and all those fast food places get so many uses out of their oils? Consider that they are using formulated oils in equipment with very precise temperature control that is supposed to never get the oil too hot. Of course, the oil still breaks down, gets dark and grungy and has to be replaced. Heck, I consider myself lucky to get two uses out of a batch of deep fry oil and I use non-stick and enameled and stainless pans (except for fried chicken, of course!).
Have you seen Laura Pazzaglia's site? (She has posted here on pressure cookers, too, so maybe you can consider her a hound.) If you haven't seen it, here's the link to her comparison of the electrics and stovetops:
To what the others have said, I would add only that that electric pressure-cookers are like other stand-alone electric cooking devices --- Cuisinart Griddler, George Foreman grill, slow-cooker/Crockpots, rice cookers, etc. Some folks in some situations find them useful, but others won't.
OMG - Campy parts? Totally off-topic here, of course, but now we're talking a weirdness that I can subscribe to --- and, about which, for others, we might as well be speaking in tongues. :-)>
Not a "Kitchenaid Guru" but I do have some experience with various older KA models as well as owning an older K5ss.
First thing: the "solid-state" is not the motor but the switch/lever on the side for speed control. (Think gear shift or throttle). The older models used a mechanical rheostat for this. Both the old and new switches tend to be very long lived, very reliable components. (Not saying they never fail -- some do fail which is why replacement parts have been available.)
Second, my experience with KA mixers: in the 90s, I sometimes used several friends' old K45 (rheostat speed controls) mixers before buying my own K5SS (solid-state speed controls) from Costco around 1998. Since then, I've occasionally used another friend's old-style K5, too. (Mainly, helping make mutliple batches of fruit cakes.)
About the only difference I've noticed between working the old rheostat-contolled models and my "SS" model is a slightly a slightly different "feel" to moving the control lever. Not better feel; just a little difference in the smoothness of the detents. To me, there was no difference in usability and if I hadn't been told that the switch was different, I wouldn't have noticed.
I certainly understand limited budgets and "get" the attraction of the savings of a durable used model over paying the comparatively high prices of new models. When others mention "holy grail" or "best" in this context, I'm not sure I understand the application of those terms for practical use.
Maybe it is because I'm not a collector. Maybe my preferences are not sufficiently refined or are too plebian for those who perceive a mixer model as a "holy grail or "best." Seems to me that notions of "holy grail" and "best" are a lot like enthusiasms for vintage cars which I also don't "get.". Which vintage Bentley's are the best? Has Chevrolet ever surpassed the '57 Bel Air? Those questions are very important to some people but totally pass me. Mind, I am not deriding the enthusiasts. I'm simply recognizing that the interests of enthusiasts may be different from my own purely utilitarian perspective.
Maybe "best" means longevity and durability? My friends' old K45 is still running without problems as is the other friends' old K5. The friends do the cookies, fudge, cakes, etc. kind of baking but not much bread. Once a year, they both make fruitcakes for holiday seasons and that's probably the heaviest load they put on their machines. My friends with the K5 also occasionally use the meat-grinder attachment to grind a pound or two of meat for hamburgers. They also occasionally use a pasta roller attachment.
I, on the other hand, have used my K5SS much more heavily over the 16 years that I've owned it. For a while, when I first started making sausages, terrines, etc. I borrowed the meat grinder attachment, (I quickly found that a stand-alone grinder was much better for the 10 and 20 pound batches I now work with,) Every week, I mix up multiple batches of breads, making 2 to 4 pounds of dough per batch. For a while, I was grinding grain (using the KA grain grinder attachment) on my K5SS and then making 5 to 6 pound batches of whole wheat and rye breads. I started out mixing those doughs in two batches but then, in the middle of the previous decade, I got lazy and started doing it all in one batch. The heavy loading inevitably took its toll and the sacrificial gear eventually sacrificed itself in December of 2006. Quick, cheap fix. The part was about $4.50 but shipping and handling were a lot more :>(. It took all of about 20 minutes to swap out with ordinary tool-kit tools.
Some people hear that and say, "see, I told you the old ones were better because they didn't use no stinking plastic sacrificial gears." Except that Hobart did. The current KA part is interchangeable with and can be used to replace the same "plastic and fiber" part on the the old K5/K45 models, too. If you abuse your old Hobart built K5 models as I abused my supposedly "crappy-new" K5ss unit, the same "crappy plastic" gear will shear in order to protect the motor from an overload. Replace the gear and stop abusing it, and the unit will go on for many more years.
So, if you are trying to decide between a good used K5ss and a more expensive older, Hobart-made K5, I'd say go with the K5ss. Of course, buying a used appliance can be a bit of crapshoot because we usually have no way of knowing if and/or how it has been used or abused over the years.
As for making "single batches" --- what is a single batch for you?
If you mean tiny quantities --- say, whipping the white of one single small egg or a quarter cup of whipped cream -- that's what I think a hand mixer is for. One pound loaf of bread, a cup of heavy cream, 3 or 4 egg whites? No problem with the K5SS nor the old K5 or K45, either. (Try to find a manual, though, as you might need to adjust bowl heights with an older K5 or K5ss.)
Also, a Side-Swipe paddle beater that is a good thing to get as jjm mentioned.
All other things being equal, I might be be inclined to go with the K5SS because parts are more readily available and because the collectors' theories of "best" and "holy grail" have bid the prices up on the older models.
If you want an estimate for comparing gas to radiant electric to induction, check out "Mr. Electricity's" Gas vs. ELectric Calculator at this link:
Plug in your local utility rates and daily stove usage and the calculator gives you cost estimates for cooking with gas, with radiant electric stoves, and with induction ranges. For many residences, the cost differences will be trivial, maybe $1 or $2 per month without factoring in heating and cooling needs.
Adding to what Chem just said, a quick-cooked sauce with tomato usually won''t be a problem for most folks. I recall reading a test report a few years back about making spaghetti sauce in CI pans. Might have been Cooks Illustrated or Saveur magazine. Anyway, most of their tasters didn't notice anything untoward with tomatoes in CI for ten minutes --- in a well seasoned CI pan. Longer than that started getting problemmatic. The longer the time, the greater the number of people that noticed unpleasant off flavors. The testers also concluded that you absolutely want to avoid adding any wine because the tannins interact quickly with the iron and acid and produce a distinctly bad taste in a very short time.
Well, I just checked over on Gardenweb and found that you had a similar post there. So, obviously, you've seen the posting there and I didn't need to suggest that to you. Since some of those gardenweb folks had info on your question about speedovens, I'm posting the link here for anybody who wants to follow-up on that aspect.
To add to what Duffy just said:
1. It sounds like you have already searched the postings on the gardenweb kitchens and appliances forums, but if you haven't, try a search engine (google, bing, ask, etc) and include "gardenweb" in your search string. (The GW search engine can be hit or miss). I've seen several threads about the double-oven Whirlpool induction.
2. Unless your house is very old and has only a 100 amp panel, upgrading the 240 line from 30 amps to 40 amps is going to require three things: (a) replacing that 30 amp breaker with a 40 amp breaker in the box (very simple and inexpensive as electrical work goes); (b) adding a 240v outlet in the kitchen (simple and inexpensive but needed because the electric ovens were hard-wired) and (c) replacing the supply cable with the larger gauge (# 8 AWG) required to carry a 40 amp load. The last one is the where there can be minimal or a lot of expense. If the cable is readily accessible and requires minimal fishing through the walls and the outlet is close to the panel, the cost will be low. (For instance, in my old house, the electrical panel is in the basement and almost directly beneath where the stove sits.) But if the panel is elsewhere and/or the cabling has to be fished through walls --- or, worse yet, rerouted to a new location that requires work on the walls --- then it starts getting much more expensive. Am I correct that you are facing the latter kind of situation?
3. The WP double-oven induction stove is a somewhat different beast than the other WP/KA/Maytag induction ranges. (a) The double oven offers both standard pyrolitic self-cleaning and a steam clean option. It thus avoids the many complaints about the steam-only ("Aqua-Lift") self cleaning on the brandmates' ranges. (b) The double oven WP induction has a slightly different burner layout and zone layout, but it still has the largest burner in the back where a large pot may be butting up against the backsplash. (c) As others have noted, the burners only have whole-number steps for settings. For higher-heat cooking -- stir-fry, saute, boiling --- not a big deal. But when you do lower heat cooking -- having rice on simmer, using a pressure cooker, making stock --- many of us find nine-steps insufficient. (d) You mentioned using a grill pan and also making pancakes and such. The WP manual forbids burner spanning griddles, if that matters to you. In contrast, Duffy's GE range (PHB925?) allows this. At least two induction ranges (Samsung NE597N0PBSR and the new Electrolux freestanding induction range) are specifically set up for it with a bridging control.
5. The twin ovens on the WP induction and gas ranges and the Frigidaire twin-oven ranges are both "real" ovens. An upper (small) oven seems to be pretty good at many of the tasks you might do with a countertop toaster over, but making toast will not be one of them. Frigidaire (like most manufacturers these days) claims to have rapid oven preheating but (as on virtually any other stove you buy these days) the rapid heat only measures air temperature, which is only a small part of how an oven toasts, roasts and bakes. IOW, the smaller oven will take noticably longer to heat up than a countertop toaster oven, and will not be great for making toast. (Equally true of the WP double-oven induction range, too, FWIW). An ordinary toaster will be better for that task and will use less counterspace and will be a lot more convenient. With those considerations, one of the double oven ranges might work well for you in your kitchen.
6. Will you hate moving from electric ovens to gas ovens? Probably not. Gas ovens do put more waste heat in your kitchen as do the gas burners on the stovetop. A vent-hood will be a good idea and can help with that issue. (Oh great, another budget issue?) Gas broilers are generally not as capable as electric broilers -- okay with small quantities but uneven on large trays if that's what you use them for --- but baking functions can be good to very pretty good and sometimes depend on how you use the convection fan. There is actually more variation between brands than between gas and electric ovens, per se. I say this having replaced a dual-fuel range with an all-gas range a couple of years ago. For me, my current all gas oven does a better job baking some things (say bread and pizza), makes me fuss more with a few things (such as multiple pans of sugar cookies or biscuits) and mostly produces results indistinguishable from the prior electric oven.
7. That double-oven all-gas Frigidaire you are looking at -- is that the FGGF-304DLF or 304BNF? Consumer Reports testing yielded the following information on them which may be useful for you:
This Frigidaire freestanding gas range has the following:
CR's comment about uneven baking in the upper gas oven seems common for many of the double-oven gas ranges that CR reviewed. Not so for the GE PGB950SEFSS (though, at $2500, it is $900 more than the Frigidaire) and the LG models (where there may be service and support issues if you need warranty service). CR membership surveys report Frigidaire and GE as being the most reliable brands for gas ranges over the last five years.
9. For aesthetics, have you considered that many of the double-oven gas ranges have black painted or black ceramic cooktop surfaces? AFAIK, only the above cited GE dual-oven gas range can be had without this. Some folks hate the "black-top" look, and some report them difficult to clean. Most induction ranges have black surfaces -- other than the GE PHB920 and PHS920, which are gray --- but induction rangetops are far easier to clean and keep clean as you doubtless know from the many threads you have been reading.
10. A speed-oven over the range? Were you thinking about an Advantium OTR model? You also mentioned a Miele, which I'm guessing means replacing that 24" electric wall oven. That's a lot of expense in a small kitchen, and IIRC, it is a pretty small oven, to boot. Likely an issue for Thanksgiving as you fear. There has been a lot of first-hand discussion of pros and cons of speed ovens in the Gardenweb forums if you haven't already checked those out. A countertop MW seems like a better idea, particularly with the kids being primary users.
Okay, point of clarification and an apology for wandering off topic by mentioning another use. Sunshine is correct that you want to avoid the longer blades with the big teeth when sawing bones. If you are working unfrozen meat, they will indeed shred the meat and generally make a mess.
Well, too large and too powerful makes it harder to use and usually means more set-up hassle which diminishes the convenience factor. If the cutting is a rare thing, it may be better to adapt a hacksaw or spend $17 for something like a W 47-1601 Weston meat saw (available from hardware stores and the likes of Cabellas.) But, if you figure on doing it once a month, adapting a reciprocating saw can be much more convenient and a lot faster and easier, to boot.
The thing about reciprocating saws (Milwaukee's version being the Sawzall) is that many of us already have one so we only need a new blade to dedicate to kitchen use. You do want to clean all the paint off of the blade, get it very clean and it give it a wipe with a little food safe mineral oil to keep it from rusting.
The reciprocating saw is also handy for dividing up large packs of things already frozen. Depending on how big the packs (or carcasses) are, you might want to consider using one of the 12" long ripping/demo blades.
Actually, I do use a little butter these days --- for flavor and morale purposes, of course --- and there's never an issue with sticking when I do that. :-)
It's only when a guest absolutely wants no fat or oil added to the pan that the eggs get fried in a bare pan. Without the added lubrication, the old, bare Scanpan is still relatively more non-stick than my well-seasoned CI skillet.
Thanks for the suggestion. Although I've done that a couple of times over the last 13 years, it is a good thing to remind folks about. It is kind of like using kosher salt to polish a CI pan's interior.
First time I used this polishing was because a friend had sprayed the pan with some Pam for a relatively high-temp low-fat stir fry. (Hoo boy, can that turn non-stick to velcro!) Pan polished up a treat and was fine for another few years. I've known that fats polymerize during cooking and will build-up over time if you are not conscientious about scrubbing it out per the use and care instructions.
A couple of years ago, when the finish seemed to be dulling, I tried another polish with a baking soda paste followed by the oil wipe but it didn't make any difference that I could see. I I think the surface is just starting to wear a bit with normal use over the years. Like most things you use for thirteen years, the shine can wear off but its still eminently worth keeping. :-)
For the OP's purposes, the important thing is that the surface hasn't been flaking and it still has pretty good nonstick properties after all these years.
Going back to the "Circulon" recommendations, the set that Costco carries is called "Circulon Premier Professional." It is induction capable (magnetic metal in the bases) and it is all non-stick. It is priced at less than $200. The set has: 8", 10" fry pans; a 12" fry pan with a lid; and 11" saute pan with a lid; and 6 qt. stockpot with a lid; and 1 qt. and 3 qt. saucepans, also with lids. Bought mine 3½ years ago and it all gets used a lot. Sometimes gets washed in the dishwasher. Held up really well. But, fried eggs don't just slip out of the pans anymore, although they do come out clean with the mere touch of a spatula. They seem to heat evenly on both induction and gas burners.
I also have 12.5" Scanpan frying pan (which I purchased) and an 8" All-Clad nonstick fry pan (which I got as freebie when I purchased some All Clad seconds.). Both the Scanpan and A/C came with "Lifetime" guarantees and both get used frequently. I treat these with more care than my Circulon, however.
My take on expensive brands of non-stick pans with lifetime guarantees: it is a pan subscription service. If the the coating dulls and gets sticky or starts to flake, I send the old pan and get a new one. My Scanpan was sent to me as a replacement when the prior one -- purchased in the 1990s --- started to flake around 2001.
Several friends bought sets of Swiss Diamond for five and six years ago. The sets have seen daily use (including use by teenagers) and seem to be fine.
That was taught to me as correct usage back in the previous century when I was in school in Virginia. :>)
But, meanwhile, back at the point: like Duffy, I also am pretty much neutral on the gas versus induction thing except when it comes to the waste heat. My heat tolerance is far less than it used to be. Once upon a time, I was fine when the government had me running around in full gear in the mid-day sun at places like 29 Palms. Nowadays, I'm in trouble when it gets above the mid-70's. If I lived in a hot climate like Tampa, I would not have even considered a gas range.
Where I live in the northern Rockies, we do not get many summer evenings where it is too hot to cook in the kitchen. We did get a couple of days in the low 90s last summer where I was cooking for a big July 4th party. Like c oliver, I had to throw an a/c unit in a kitchen window. (I can hear the laughter from those of you who had weeks of 100+ degree/95% humidity days.)
On the whole, though, the waste-heat from gas burners is much less of a problem for me than it would be if I lived elsewhere.
Truth be told, I'm not completely neutral. I do have an abstract preference for induction over gas. But, we cannot buy appliances in the abstract. Buying real appliances for a specific kitchen always means having to choose between varying mixes of design choices and engineering compromises. Many of those will have nothing to do with gas or induction. Sometimes the best mix for a person's particular preferences will happen to be the induction appliance, sometimes not.
I'm wondering as well, although I'm not sure I understand what is getting scratched.
Muddirtt, are you maybe trying to prevent rusting if the grates scratch the pan? Or, are you thinking that seasoning the bottom of the CI pan maybe helps prevent the grates from being scratched by the pan?
I do have a rectangular griddle with the ridged grill surface on the reverse side, but I've always done the seasoning/re-seasonings in the oven. For that matter, whenever I've done a full reseason on my other CI pans, I've done the "upside down" thing in the oven. Now, if I had a bad back, the stove-top way might be easier to manage because I would not have to bend over so much to move the pan around.
Or, maybe we can re-assure you that maybe you don't need to worry about the exterior base of your CI pan?
Oops. mispost. sorry.
Deal breaker? Protective exterior? I just have to ask: did you mean the beeswax mentioned in your earlier post? AFAIK, that only keeps the pans from rusting a bit during transit between the factory and end users. Beyond that, beeswax melts at around 150F and will burn at 300F, which is a pretty common cooking temp. (Beeswax does make wonderful candles.) That doesn't seem like much protection to me. To be sure, I've seen plenty of posts where folks have articulated reasons for preferring DeBuyer CS to Lodge CS (and vice versa), so I apologize if you had something else in mind.