Five Tips for Getting More Out of Your Stovetop

Whether you have a gas, electric, or induction cooktop, there are a few things you can (and should) do to keep it in good working order. From cleaning tips to making your stovetop do double-duty here are five tips for making your stove work harder for your kitchen.

This is a good checklist for those of you just finishing the Kitchen Cure! Take a moment and check through each of these items and see if your stovetop is in good shape.

  1. Make sure the stove and burners are level - It's easy for a free-standing stove to get a little tilted one way or the other, and gas and electric burners can also get slightly tilted out of whack. Here are tips for leveling your burners and instructions for leveling the stove itself.
  2. Make sure your whole stove is crumb and food-free - Yes, we keep the top of our range clean and polished, but what about underneath the burners? Check the burners and underneath the stovetop (it usually lifts up) and vacuum away old food and crumbs. These can really clog up your burners, and they also can attract unwanted wildlife. (Ever had a mouse in the kitchen? Ick.)
  3. Figure out which burner is strongest - This may be obvious (or not). But the amount of heat (BTUs or watts) your burners put out tends to vary widely from burner to burner. Make sure you're using the right burner for the right job! Use small, wimpy burners for low-heat simmering, and the strongest, biggest burners for stir-frying.
  4. Learn how to diffuse the heat for low-heat cooking - Many gas stoves have problems with simmering and cooking on really low heat. A heat diffuser is an essential little gadget for simmering and low-heat work. They're cheap and easy to use, and your delicate sauces will be much better!
  5. Cover the stove top for more counter space - And finally, once your stove is clean and level, make it do double-duty! If you have a small kitchen, your stove should double-duty when it's not lit up. Cover the burners with burner covers and use it as a chopping area, or as a prep station when not in use.

Do you have any good tips for making your stove work better in a small space? Or for cleaning it more effectively?

Related: What's a BTU and How Many Should Your Stove Have?

(Image: Flickr member elvissa licensed for use under Creative Commons)