Roasting in modern electric ovens

Last updated 05/06/2019 10:44

Many recipes recommend adding water to a roasting tin when roasting, as well as, in some cases, roasting/baking in a water bath. However, this can create several problems in modern electric ovens.

Using water in an oven dates back to the time of the original ovens, when they were not thermostatically controlled. The ovens were then able to restrict and distribute the temperature using vapor. They could limit the evaporation from the actual joint, so as to prevent it from getting burnt. This was achieved partly by pouring plenty of water in the roasting tin and partly by regularly pouring water/juices over the joint.

The reason for pouring water/juices over the joint during the cooking process was not so that they would penetrate the joint and make it more juicy and tasty. The liquid cannot penetrate a joint when evaporation is taking place at the same time. It was solely to use the evaporated water as a kind of thermostat.

  • At that time, there was nothing in the oven which could be damaged by this powerful steam that was formed, and there were no RCD circuit breakers which could be affected by the moisture. The oven door was generally not fitted very tightly, so there was plenty of opportunities for water vapor to escape from the oven.
  • Unfortunately, the habit of using water inside the oven has often been handed down until today, when product development has made this completely unnecessary, and even highly inappropriate. There have been incredible developments in relation to ovens/cookers in recent years, partly for the benefit of consumers and partly out of energy conservation considerations, and it is necessary to adapt cooking in it to this development.
  • Modern ovens have a very fine thermostat regulation control and are also very well sealed. This means that the temperature is very stable. But as evaporated water generates pressure, precisely because the ovens are so well sealed, the water vapor will often choose completely random places and the oven acts like a pressure cooker.
  • You will then see the fat saturated water vapor gathering next to the oven door, where it turns to liquid on, for example, cooking elements and drips down on the floor. You will also see that the vapor looks to get under the countertop and into the electrical system. This may cause an RCD circuit breaker to trip, in the worst-case scenario.
  • Convection ovens in particular are prone to humidity problems, as the hot air here is blown over the water-filled roasting tins/dishes, creating an even greater amount of evaporation.
  • This means that the amount of water in the oven should be kept to a minimum. 100-200 ml is more than enough to avoid, the juices getting burnt. At the same time, you should pay attention to the roasting temperature. The ideal roasting temperature in normal ovens is 200 degrees. In convection ovens, you generally need to reduce the temperature to 150-165 degrees. By limiting water consumption. And by being aware of the temperature, you will achieve significant energy savings. As much energy is used to evaporate half a liter of water, as there is to boil three liters of water. These 100-200 ml of water are the maximum volume which can be recommended, if you want to avoid the above-mentioned problems at the same time.
  • You should put a joint on a rack above an ovenproof dish, which is roughly the same size as the joint. This ensures minimal evaporation from the juices, and the lowest possible energy consumption. However, you should note that the edge of the dish must be high enough to accommodate the juices and any melted fat. After roasting based on this method, the amount of juices will not be greatly different to when roasting with water. The juices may be slightly more concentrated, but as the boiling point of water is 90 degrees, any water added will only merge with the juices in minimal amounts. This makes the juices very suitable to use for a sauce. 
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