Kitchens have evolved over time, as have the the vocabulary & vernacular used in & about them. Back in the day, non-electric fridges used to be called “iceboxes”. Many kitchens used to have things called “dumbwaiters” to transport food between floors in multi-story buildings. And nowadays, when you’re going to cook something in a microwave you might say you’re going to “nuke it”. But one appliance in particular can bring about a bit of confusion for some people: the cooking range. Is it a stove, or is it an oven? And then, there’s the cooktop. What about that? What are the differences between all of these individual-yet-related implements?
Maytag, the company that’s long been making & innovating kitchen appliances, breaks it all down in a fairly simple way: an “oven” refers to the enclosed chamber where gas or electricity is utilized to raise the chamber’s air temperature to cook food; a “cooktop” is the surface area with burners that heat for pans for cooking; then, when both of those are combined into one appliance, that’s called a “stove” or “range”, which are used pretty interchangeably (though, “range” is actually slightly more accurate since “stove” can also mean a heating element used to warm a living area).
Most people have ranges in their kitchens, though some kitchen setups feature separate cooktops & ovens. Wall ovens are built-in appliances that sometimes even have a double enclosure so you can cook dishes at two different temperatures at the same time. Cooktops are for boiling, sautéing, or pan-frying, while ovens are for baking, broiling, and roasting. But when both are combined into one single unit, that’s a range.
So, to recap: food cooks ON a cooktop…food cooks WITHIN an oven…and if you’re terrible at cooking (like I am), then most of the food you cook goes INTO the trashcan.
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