This section is from the book "Elements Of The Theory And Practice Of Cookery", by Mary E. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Elements Of The Theory And Practice Of Cookery; A Textbook Of Domestic Science For Use In Schools.
Cooking by gas is easy and cleanly. It saves space, unnecessary heat, and with care, expense. A combination coal and gas range is convenient where space is limited. For combination gas range and fireless cooker see p. 21.
A range of ordinary size has (l) several top burners, for saucepans, kettles, etc., (2) a baking oven, for bread, cake, and large roasts, (3) a broiling oven with rack and pan for steaks, chops, small roasts, toast, and dishes to be browned, (4) oven burners, situated inside and at the top of the broiling oven, and (5) under the baking oven. The situation of the ovens and the arrangement of the oven burners vary in different stoves. Most ranges have one small top burner, called a simmering burner. Some have an extra large one, a giant burner. A stovepipe connected with a flue is desirable. A gas plate and portable oven answers for simple cooking. A stove for natural gas has the top burners covered, as natural gas produces smoke.
1 Pure phosphorus burns, though slowly, at the ordinary temperature. It must, therefore, be kept under water.
A gas-stove burner is designed to get as much heat as possible from the gas. The brightest flame is not the hottest. Its light is caused by bits of carbon which glow but do not burn. With more oxygen this carbon will burn, making the flame blue, sootless, and very hot. A "gas-cock" controls the flow of gas to each burner. Under each cock is an air-chamber with openings to admit air. If there is a "shutter" to regulate the size of the openings, turn it slowly and watch the flame. When just enough air is entering, the flame is blue, quiet, and steady. The "shutter" rarely needs adjusting, but the openings must be kept clear. The cause of a poor flame may be old choked-up pipes, not poor gas.
Learn which pipes supply each burner; learn the position of each cock when open and when closed. Before lighting a burner, see that all burners are tightly closed and that no gas is escaping. To light a top burner, strike a match, open the cock, let the gas flow for two or three seconds, and apply lighted match or taper at back of burner. Some ranges have a pilot-light which may be kept burning constantly for 8 cents a month, and from which any top burner may be lighted by pushing a button. Oven burners are usually lighted by a pilot-light at the side of the oven. To light oven burners, open both oven doors, strike a match, open the pilot cock, and light the pilot-light through the hole from the outside. Open the back oven cock, then the front one. Each burner will light with a slight explosive sound. When both are burning, turn off the pilot-light. See that gas burns blue the whole length of burners. If the gas pops and burns yellow with a roar, it has "struck back " and is burning in the air chamber. Turn it off at once, let it flow a few seconds, and relight. If "striking back" occurs often, adjust shutter.
Light the baking oven from five to ten minutes before using. Two minutes after lighting it, open door to let moisture out, then keep it closed. After lighting the broiling oven close the door until the oven is hot. Leave door open while food is in the broiling oven. It will brown better. With the door closed, it may taste smoky or catch fire or the gas may go out for lack of air.
Keep drip sheet under top burners clean. Keep air-holes clear. Clean holes in burners with wire. Remove gratings and burners occasionally and clean them in boiling hot washing soda solution. (For further care see p. 15.)
To cook by gas safely, successfully, and economically, observe these rules. 1. When you have finished using a burner turn it out at once.1 2. As soon as water or food boils or reaches the desired degree of heat, lower flame or remove utensil to simmering burner. Too low a flame may go out. If, turned higher, it gives too much heat, put an asbestos board over it. 3. Use a heat distributor, an iron sheet which spreads heat from one burner to several utensils. The right kind lets air pass between it and the flame. 4. To reduce oven heat, lower both burners. This saves as much gas as turning one out and keeps the oven more evenly heated. 5. Never have both upper and lower burners in a combination broiling and baking oven going at one time. The upper one is likely to go out for lack of air. One style of range is made so that lighting one set of burners prevents the others from being lighted.