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There are a few key features to look out for when buying an oven and this guide is here to tell you what to look for, so you can find the right model to suit your needs. Ovens are one of the most basic methods of cooking. They work by heating up the air inside their cavity which in turn cooks food.

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Ovens vary in size and in the technology that powers them but a simple definition is that they heat up air to a choice of temperatures in order to cook food. This guide has been split down into a series of questions that cover what we recommended you ask yourself when buying an oven. You can read the sections in any order but we do recommend that you find time to go through it all.

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  • Gas ovens - this type of oven uses a heat source placed at the bottom of the cavity. As hot air rises this creates heat zones, so the middle shelf will be the temperature you have selected to cook at. The shelf above will be a gas mark higher while the shelf below will be one lower. This is good for cooking multiple dishes in the same oven.
  • Conventional electric ovens - use top and bottom heating elements with the optimum temperature being in the centre of the oven.
  • Fan assisted ovens - have a heating element around a fan, which allows for even distribution of hot air, this actually reduces the time and temperature required to cook food - which is good because it saves money on electricity.

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  • Defrost - speeds up defrosting delicate foods without damaging them by gently circulating warm air around the food. Good for meats because it defrosts without cooking (unlike a microwave).
  • Rotisserie style / fan assisted grilling - combines grilling with baking. Excellent for poultry because it crisps the skin.
  • Pizza function - spreads heat from the bottom of the oven upwards to give pizza a crispier base.

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  • Programme timers - lets you set a start and stop time for your oven. So if you don't want to start cooking straight away you don't have to.
  • Minute minder - a timer that beeps when your food is ready. Useful if you don't like watching the clock.
  • Glass door - a glass oven door is a simple feature that can make a big difference. Checking the progress of your food without opening a door is not only easier but it also stops cool air getting in from outside.
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  • Pyrolytic cleaning - a three hour cleaning cycle where the oven cleans itself by burning any spills to ash. This programme costs around 50p to run - quite cheap compared to most oven cleaning fluids.
  • Catalytic oven liners - whenever the oven is used at a high heat the catalytic liner breaks down the grease in any food that has been spilt onto it. This is a very simple feature to use but some catalytic liners need to be replaced after a certain time, some don't protect areas like the top or back of the oven (which are hardest to clean) and all of them are ruined if you spill water on them.
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