To be a bit more precise, the stove is called an Aga Cooker. "AGA Marvel" is the North American subsidiary of the UK-based multi-national conglomerate, AGA Rangemaster Group. The various ARG subsidiaries make a variety of stoves, cooktops, etc. for sale in lots of different countries with the longstanding Aga Cooker design being the most recognizable line over here in North America.
Cooking on an Aga Cooker was and is as Kaleo describes it. For me, cooking on a gas-fired Aga Cooker seemed rather like what I remember of cooking on an old wood-fired range without the need to stoke a firebox and poke the coals, or clean them out. (Kaleo is this forum's expert on woodstove cooking, btw, and probably could give more detail on this.)
A good place to see Agas in use is to find episodes of the old "Two Fat Ladies" cooking show.
The Cuisinart -- is that the "Combi-Steam-Oven (Cuisinart CSO300) that you recall?
Sigurd, the CSO300 offers the usual countertop oven functions with the additonal options for convection and steam-oven (and convection-steam) functions. The trade-off for the additional functions is that the Cuisinart's interior is smaller than that in Breville's BSO 800XL.
If interested in exploring the CSO300 further, the chowhound thread is probably this one:
The oven has following on e-Gullet where there is this very long and detailed ongoing thread on the CSO300:
Both threads will have links to other sites where evaluations ranged from nearly unmitigatedly postive (at FoodandWine.com) to problemmatic in use (at chefsteps.com).
FWIW, the Breville 800XL is Cooks Illustrated's recommendation for a countertop oven.
<Will Bar Keeper's Friend even work? >
Oftentimes, yes. The rough stuff is probably minerals boiled out of the water. As Chem says, that's where soaking with vinegar can help. Or sprinkle a lot of BKF, which contains oxalic acid. Wet it to make a paste, spread it and let it sit for a few hours. Then rewet, maybe add more BKF and scrub to polish the interior (which usually removes discoloration.)
Being familiar with the Cooking Issues article and having both a 5.5L/6qt. KR (20 years old) and a 10 qt. Fagor Duo (bought last fall), I can tell you that both produce stocks so similar that you would be very hard put to find any differences if you were an extremely finicky and perspicacious elite gourmand with ultra-sensitive taste buds. I'm not, so I've found no real difference between the stock from my KR and that from my Fagor beyond the increased volume I can make in the bigger pot.
The taste and consistency difference that I've found with stock is not between the Fagor and the KR but between them and the stock I tried making over the holidays in somebody's older weighted valve pc. (Cannot recall whether it was a Mirro or Presto but it was stanless steel.) Nobody would say I have ultra-sensitive taste buds. I thought the weighted valve PC made stock that was quite acceptable. There were no complaints about the gravy made from it. But, to me, the stock from the jiggle-top was thinner and less well flavored than what I get from my spring-valve pcs. Not horrible, just not as good.
Do note that even though KR and Fagor models are called non-venting, they do, in fact, vent a little bit during cooking. It is only in comparison to the weighted vent (jiggle top) models -- like the Iwatani that Dave Arnold used in the CookingIssues test -- that KR and Fagor models can be called non-venting. What they should be called is "minimally venting" but that doesn't sound like very enticing marketing, does it?.
The KR is a quieter and less obvious about this than the Fagor, enough so that some posters will insist that nothing vents from a KR. But all spring-valve pressure cookers have a small amount of evaporation. Modernist Cuisine reported evaporations being in the range of 2 to 4%. Laura Pazzagilia quantified this with her product tests reported on her hippressurecooking website and found most spring-valve models incur liquid losses of averaging around 3.5% at high pressure over some period of time for both Fagor's Futuro model and KR's Duromatic. She also noted that KR seems more efficient and works at lower heat settings than the Fagor, which accords with my experience. (She found that the countertop-electric InstaPot apparently lost only about 2% but its high pressure setting is about 30% less than on the stovetop models.)
As for additional considerations for choosing between KR and Fagor, there is price, and that consideration varies with how far up or down you go in the Fagor product line. I think you'd find that any Fagor can do a good job.
Personally, where I find I prefer my KR is that it seems so much easier for me to judge pressure from KR's marked rising rod than Fagor's method of looking for a "little" steam from the vent on the pressure-setting-knob. (Fagor does have a rod indicator on its most expensive line, the "Chef" models, but the Rapida, Duo and Futuro models all require judgment about a "little" venting of steam.) Basically, with the KR rod showing the red ring slightly over the rim of the conical deflector, I know I am at full 15 psi pressure. (If the ring is right at the rim, the pressure is a little low, resulting in a bit lower cooking temperature which may be how Cook's Illustrated's tests rated the KR as cooking at only 240F.)
The thing I see with the Rapida, Duo and Futuro models of Fagors is that it takes a number of tries to figure out what is the right "little" amount of steam. Until you've done it several times, you may be getting pressure that is a bit too low (maybe slightly undercooking some foods in precisely timed recipe) or bit too high (slight overpressure, cooking a little faster than maybe intended.) This is not a constant failing, but something you just have to learn to judge from a bit of experience. This is a problem mainly with recipes with shorter times -- say carrots, where perfect doneness may require, say, 5 minutes at full pressure.
It is not particularly onerous, but it takes little experimentation to find the groove. When I got my Fagor, I went looking for youtube, vimeo etc. videos that might illustrate this but was not able to find any. I made a stab at making my own but it turned out to be really hard for me to get the right lighting and audio to get a meaningful video and I haven't had time to get back to it. Sorry about that.
To me, the KR is more robustly built and the pressure parts are all metal with heavy duty siliconized rubber gaskets. The parts are readily available and mostly inexpensive. After two decades, I recently replaced the pressure spring and the secondary pressure release valve (the gasket had worn on the original) but the original lid gasket is still going strong. Haven't had the Fagor long enough to need to do anything to it. Seems to me that the Fagor pressure control valve might be harder to clean out completely if something gummed it up than would be the case with the KR.
As for the questions about usable capacity, there are a number of considerations. For foods that may expand a lot (rice, beans, etc.) figure on keeping the volume at half the pot capacity. For things like stocks, soups, pot roasts, large quantities of vegetables (such as potatoes), max volume for pressure cooking will be 2/3 of rated capacity. I was no aware that KR is now saying no oatmeal and apple compote and such. I never noticed anything like that in my older manual, and have never had any problem making such things in small volumes using only natural pressure release, but apparently, times have changed. I see that the hippressurecooking and some other sites now recommend cooking steel cut oats in a container within the pressure cooker, bain marie style. See, for example,
For Lindsay's info, there are plastic retainer clips on the bottom of the steam deflection shield -- a small conical "hat" at the peak of the lid through which the pressure rod projectson the KR PCs. The clips' only function is as retainers that hold the conical "hat" in place when the lid is inverted for washing or storage. Otherwise, when you are cooking and or releasing steam, the shield stays in place and functions just fine without the clips.
FWIW, after restoring the old sink cabinet, I replaced the original faucet with an inexpensive Home Depot unit. the present clearance is over 11" --- enough that I could fit my 10 qt. Fagor PC under it but my 12 quart stockpot is too tall.
You should have no trouble with the KR models you are considering.
For topeater and soccermom --
I'm thinking topeater does not need a gas range to use a pressure cooker and the "too high heat too quickly" can be a problem with thick sauces in pressure cooker recipes on any kind of range.
I agree with Shkra11 that Topeater's recipe seems like it has too thick a sauce -- the wine reduced to a syrup, the tomato juices thickened with tomato paste. Also, it sounds like the recipe has chicken layered in pretty tight keeping the liquid from circulating.
Bringing the pot to pressure more gradually may -- note the qualifying "may" -- keep the heat from cooking off liquid from the sauce solids before liquid can circulate down from above. The basic problem is still the same, though, which is this: thick sauce and soup may burn without producing enough steam.
A couple of alternative suggestions for dealing with this kind of recipe. One is to just add more liquid -- maybe 3/4 cup of stock or water -- and, at the end, remove the chicken and reduce the sauce for 3 or 4 minutes if it is too loose. (If you want to explore this further, most pressure cooking books will explain the details of why you want post-pressure thickening for pc receipes, as does Laura Pazzaglia in numbers of recipes on her hippressurecooking site.)
Another option that I often use when pressure cooking with a somewhat thick braising sauce: I use the 1/4" thick perforated steamer/trivet plate that came with my Kuhn Rikon. This keeps the sauce solids off the bottom (where they might scorch) but still immersed in the sauce.
I am not familiar with the Fissler's accessories but you could try what I use with my other pc (a 10 quart Fagor whose base is much wider than the plate I use in my 6 quart KR): a collapsible steamer basket with the legs unclipped so it sits on the bottom of the pan. (Also, unclip the center post to get that out of the way.) These steamer baskets are widely available and inexpensive. Amco is the most common branded version but there are lots of no-name Asian versions around at grocery stores, hardware stores, etc. The Amco and all the others are inexpensive, around 10 to $12, I think.
Using a plate/trivet does require the extra step of scooping out your browned onions and mushrooms to place the trivet/basket into the cooker, and then putting the solids back in, but it does keep the sauce solids from scorching/carbonizing on the bottom during pressurized cooking.
I'm not feeling quite as testy as Chem's post comes across, but I am a little puzzled about what you want to know.
Are you thinking that there has to be some special or magic technique because this happened in a pressure cooker or because Fissler pans are so expensive and self-proclaimed as unique? Not to worry. Its just stainless steel. You clean it the same way you'd clean burned-on stuff from any other stainless pot.
Or, maybe you you've never had to do this before with any kind of pan? Do a search and you'll find tons of advice and you-tube videos. Maybe way more than you wanted.
Generally, an overnight soak with a solution of water and baking soda is the recommended first step. Some folks will recommend vinegar instead. That generally works with thin layers or scorching. With thicker coating of burned-on-crud, you can try soaking with a lot of dish soap, water and a scoop of dishwasher detergent. If the layer is of crud is really thick and hard (say, anthracite-like), you may find yourself prying up the loose stuff and then resorting to stronger methods. Do you have a stainless steel scrubby? If the crud is really thick, try oven cleaner. May take a number of applications and some scraping/scrubbing. Last time something like this happened to one of my pressure cookers -- note the passive voice, it wasn't me who did the pan in -- I wound up using all of the methods I mentioned and combined them with periodic scraping and prying with the square end of a steel spatula/turner. When I had most of the carbonized crud removed, I followed up with repeated applications of BarKeeper's Friend to polish it all off. Took a couple of days but the PC is fine, now.
For the future, the most likely cause of getting burned on stuff with a pressure cooker on an electric stove is starting the pressurized part of the cooking with too little liquid in the pot and too high a heat when bringing the pot to pressure. Others have made the same mistake. (The Fissler's user's guide should tell you about the minimum amount of liquid you need.) It's a live and learn thing.
Best sales prices in the next few months will be during President's Day weekend and the week beforehand. That may give you prices on new items close to if not comparable to ding-n-bing/scratch-n-dent/outlet prices.
Not sure what you are thinking of in terms of "features." Features seem to be proliferating into the more value-priced ranges. Heck, I've noticed that some coil-burner ranges are now turning up with convection fans in the ovens, again. Smoothtop ranges in your price range will not likely not come with 3-oven element convection, mutiple variations in third-element convection baking and broiling, probe controlled baking/roasting, and multiple timers, and likely will not have Sabbath/Shabbat modes. Some models will have expandable burners, and digital touchpad oven controls. Ordinary convection fans can be useful for more even baking and roasting and can speed surface drying when roasting (thus speeding browning.) The expandable burners are useful for matching heat to pan size -- using the smaller diameter ring results in less waste heat in the kitchen when using smaller pans on the big burners. Touchpad controls are a mixed blessing -- many find them easier to clean than knobs, they can be easier to calibrate oven settings to actual temps. But there are more electronics that could fail and some touchpads are more durable than others.
Judging by the complaints at Consumer Reports and on Gardenweb's appliances forum, you want to stay away from the stoves with Whirlpool's so-called "Aqualift" oven self-cleaning feature. It turns up on some models under the various Whirlpool brands --- including Whirlpool, Whirlpool Gold, Maytag, and Amana --- so it is something to check if you are considering any of the Whirlpool branded range. CR's lab testing panned the Acqualift and there are plenty of online users reporting that Acqualift is next to usefless for self-cleaning. But do note that it is okay to get ranges that offer a "steam cleaning" functioning in addition to the standard high-heat self-clean functions -- just avoid the Aqualift-only versions.
As a general rule, GE (including it's Hotpoint sub-brand) have been the most reliable electric ranges over the last decade, according to Consumer Reports' annual membership surveys. In the last couple of years, Frigidiare (including Frigidiare Gallery) and the plain Whirlpool brand have improved their reliability to match GE's. A couple of percentage points behind them are Kenmore and Samsung ranges which tend to be "value priced" more than than other mainstream brands at big box and on-line vendors. The fine print in CR's survey reports indicates that these reliability differences may not be large enough to be statistically very significant. Do note that there have been complaints about Samsung warranty service and support being slow and not very good. LG is another high-feature-value leader in pricing (particularly at the likes of Lowe's, Home Depot, and etc.) but the CR survey results show LG electric stoves lagging about 5 points behind the reliability leaders, a gap which which CR says is statistically significant. LG has a warranty and support reputation similar to Samsung's.
Behind these brands are several higher-end feature-rich electric ranges with problem rates double that of their value-priced brandmates. Judging from CR's survey reports, these are advisedly avoided. So, if you are shopping the outlet/scratch-n-dent stores and find great deals with JennAir and KitchenAid or the high-end Electrolux electric ranges in your price range --- avoid them. KA and JA are Whirlpool brands and Electrolux owns Frigidiare but these higher end versions have more complex complex electronic control boards than the less expensive brandmates. Seems like there are more things that can fail and more things vulnerable over time to the high heat generated in oven self-cleaning.
Have you tried Sears Parts Direct using the full Kenmore model number? I just tried but I was using the model numbers from the Sears sales website. Those appear to be partial numbers which, of course, turn up no replacement parts listings. Parts Direct seems to want the whole model number. It will be on a tag somewhere on the mixer, probably on the base.
If nobody else here turns up with direct info, another suggestion would be kind of onerous but you could haul your mixer to a store that has a 5qt tilt-head KA mixer on display. You could see if that bowl fits. If it fits, you might be able to buy a bowl there. Some stores carry spare bowls. The local BB&B does here.
Good point about cleaning flour accumulations, but I'm not sure what you meant by "operating parts" being "made totally from metal." Are you referring to beaters, to tilt-head locking mechanisms, to accessories or to driveline gearing?
If that refers to the subject of "all metal gears" in the drivelines then that may not be an important difference.
Decades ago, Hobart started putting a nylon (aka plastic) sacrificial gear in their home mixers' drivelines as a simple, extremely reliable, robust, fail-safe way of protecting the mixer motor from overload-burnouts. That same design and part continued after Whirlpool acquired KA from Hobart in 1986. About a decade ago, internet chatter about old Hobarts supposedly having "all metal gears" led KA to come up with a pot-metal version of the sacrifical gear so that some mixer boxes could say "all metal gears." The pot-metal version works the same as the nylon version although some people think it makes for a noisier mixer. These days, some KA mixers come with the nylon sacrificial gear and some with the pot-metal sacrificial gear while the largest and most expensive KA models (ProLine and Commercial models) have an electronic disconnect for preventing overheating and overload burnout.
Don't know if the Kenmores use the nylon version of the gear, but I would not worry if they do. When I blew the nylon gear on my 2-decade old K5SS --- mixing waayyy too big a batch of 100% rye dough --- the replacement part cost $4.50 and took all of about 20 minutes to replace (including the time to get my tools out). The old K5 is still chugging along same as before.
On a completely different aspect of metal versus plastic parts: for those who do not like the plastic casing on the KA-branded meat-grinder attachment, Chef's Catlog carries an all-metal version imported from Hungary.
Adding to what Duffy just said, you do want to consider how much bread dough you will be mixing at a time. If you just want to make bread and mostly work with 1 or 2 # batches, a good bread maker will do a fine job of mixing your dough. You can always bake it in a regular oven. (For years, the King Arthur Flour test kitchens did this using Zojirushi breadmakers.)
If you are looking for an all-purpose mixer and are planning on not mixing larger batches of dough, I think the 5 quart KA model would be fine.
I have a nearly-20 year-old K5SS (5 quart lift-bowl with a 375 watt motor). I have been making 3.5-pound batches of bread dough (two big loaves) at least once a week since I bought it. That's with unbleached white and golden whole-wheat flours (Wheat Montana and King Arthur). I've had no trouble with 2# to 3# batches of dark whole wheat and 100% rye flours, either. Making larger batches (4# or greater) is pushing it. The KA mixers (and their Hobart predecessors) have always had a sacrificial gear that strips out to protect the motor from severe overload. This prevents motor burnouts. I stripped the gear in mine about ten years ago after a couple of weeks with double and triple batches of heavy rye and whole-wheat (home-ground flour) doughs. Easily fixed - the replacement gear cost $4.50 and took about 20 minutes to install, including gathering the tools and putting them away. Since then, I've limited the very heavy doughs to 2# batches and have not had problems. (For me, 2# of rye dough is a lot of bread; for others, that amount may be barely noticeable. YMMV)
By the way, when you read commentary about "all-metal" gears for KA mixers, the discussion is -- sometimes unknowingly -- about that one "fail-safe" sacrificial safety gear. Because of the internet perception/urban legend that the pre-1987 Hobart-made Kitchenaids were "so much better" because "they had all metal gears", some KA models now have the sacrificial gear made from pot-metal rather than nylon. The models with the metal sacrifical gear are noisier than the ones with the nylon (Hobart-invented) gear. My (admittedly failing) recollection is that the KA 5 quart model and the 7 quart (Proline) models use the nylon fail-safe gear while the 6 quart model is one of those that uses the pot-metal protective gear. Best thing is to look at the product box or check model specs -- the ones with the metal fail-safe gear will somewhere say "all metal gears."
The Anskarum Assistent mentioned by ranier and rasputina are pretty amazing mixers. (The "Assistent" model has been made in Sweden for decades by Anskarum and marketed here through other brands such as Electrolux. For the last few years, it has been marketed under the maker's own name.) I had the use of one for a time about a decade ago and was impressed by its dough mixing capabilities.
The problems? They are priced well north of $700 and their different design means there is a learning curve.
But, short of buying an actual commercial mixer, there is nothing better for mixing large batches of bread dough at home. For a view of them, check out the Pleasant Hill Grains website. If further interested, there are numbers of threads here and at thefreshloaf.com discussing them. There are also a number of online videos explaining and demonstrating how to use them.
I have no hands-on time with the Bosch mixers, but owners have discussed them in threads here and at Fresh Loaf where they go into some detail. The Bosch mixers also can be expensive compared to the KA models you asked about.
Except that the OP has a recirculating unit not an exterior venting one where make-up air (MUA) will matter.
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.