2 questions re: Blue Star - simmer on 15k and oven performance
Looking to redo kitchen, and one of the big upgrades will be to a high quality range and oven. At this stage we are leaning towards the Blue Star, but two issues concern us.
First, how effectively can you control low-temp on the non-"simmer" burners? I don't expect to be able to make a delicate sauce on the 22k monsters. But can you cook at low temp (simmering a ragu or steaming rice with the absorbtion method) on the regular 15k? Am worried that I might end up with only one burner that will function for a lot of our cooking, which kinda defeats the purpose of getting a 6-top (we're looking at the 36" models). On the flip side, how high do the simmer burners go; should we be thinking about getting two of these?
Second, how reliable and accurate is the gas oven? We've had electric ovens in the past. My wife does a fair bit of baking, so ability to maintain accurate temperature is important. And I'm keen to get into slow-roast, but can you get it to reliably maintain low temperatures? (my understanding so far is that Blue Star only do gas ovens, no dual-fuel models)
Grateful for any input or experience on these fronts. The alternative on the oven concerns, of course, is to go with a gas range and separate wall oven.
I have the 36" drop-in cooktop. The non-simmer burners do well for me at their lowest setting for things like cooking brown rice, lid slightly ajar. I think you'd be fine with a sauce on that burner, assuming you're doing occasional stirring. I'm not familiar with your steaming-rice technique.
The simmer burner can get surprisingly hot, quick to bring a small saucepan to a boil when on high, but its low simmer is great; I use it for long-cooking steel-cut oats or heating a soup I don't want to stir every few minutes.
Sorry, I can't speak for the oven capabilities, as I only have the cooktop. We do have an older wall oven.
I admit that I don't use the stovetop to its full potential; you may do more serious cooking than I do. Almost everything I do is on the front 22K burners, from omelets to wok cooking (though I don't crank it up all the way; the kitchen would be a smokefest.)
If this helps: We have the 48 inch BS with 8 burners (no grill or griddle): 1 simmer, 2 each 22k, and the rest are standard. It has one full and one half oven.
I use the simmer burner on low/very low to reheat soup, sauces, and to maintain pressure in a Durolast pressure cooker after rapidly building up pressure on one of the other burners. We regularly make sauces and such and simmer on all but the 22k burners. We have never experienced any problems, but like anything else, you do have to pay attention to the task (no offense meant) but it is a flame, and given enough time almost anything can scorch, even on a low simmer. After owning this, my wife would have been very happy having 2 summer burners and giving up one of the 22k burners. I may swap one out for her this summer.
If you google blue star range videos and service videos, you might find them interesting. If I can locate the link, I will post it.
Regarding the oven, we have experienced no problems with accuracy or maintaining temperature. Like the furnace in a house, when it cycles on (say you have it set at 72), it will not shut off till it reaches 74 (give or take) and will not come back on till the average temperature drops 2 or more degrees below the set temperature. The oven will do so in a similar manner, although the temperature swing may be as much as 25 degrees on either side of the set temperature. Electric and gas are similar in this manner.
Calibration of the oven can and should tighten this swing up somewhat and I assume (no actual knowledge) that an electric oven may be easier to calibrate. In any event, I would guess that the manufacturer has taken great pains to ensure accuracy within a given set of standards. If you are truly interested in the BS, contact them and get a list of dealers in your area, or maybe you will be able to talk to one of their technicians. You can email them as you can all manufacturers and get a response. Just give them a couple of days to respond. I would say that no response, from ANY manufacturer would be a good indicator of after sales customer support and I would steer clear of them.
Our experience with a Bluestar 36" range is quite similar. The two 22k burners do precisely what our previous anemic Jennaire never could; namely a full blow sauté and true wok stir frying.....but they can also be throttled way back to lightly bubble a huge 20 qt stockpot. Meanwhile the simmer burner that I was skeptical of has turned out to be equally versatile. No gas burner should ever be ignored, but throttled back the simmer really is a very minimal flame....my only complaint is that it has such narrow " footprint" that I find it useful to insert a cast-iron flame tamer to spread the low heat over a broader area. As for the gas oven, my wife still prefers to do her baking in our Miele wall ovens, but for roasting everything from huge turkeys to small tenderloins the oven has performed like a champ both with and without the convection fan running. Temperature accuracy has been measured with a Taylor digital thermometer with probe at +/- 15 degrees which has proven good enough for our purposes. At one point we were hesitant about the Bluestar after reading old complaints over lack of service and the vulnerability of the igniters....neither has been an issue for us
Hey- if you click on my profile and then photos, you can see some from a previous post I made. These were after someone a few years ago claimed that the Bluestar didn't simmer except on the simmer burner. I left a pan with 1" of stock on a 15k BTU burner for 30-45 minutes and it read 180F. I put a quart (maybe two) in the same pot and put it on the 22k BTU for a similar amount of time and it was right at 180F too.
I still really love ours after 6 years. My caveats- if I was getting a 30" range, I don't know that I'd want 2 of 4 burners the big ones. Also, it is very industrial looking. Cooks like a mother, though. I'm a serious DIYer, so the things that've needed fixing I've done myself. I'd want to figure out who can work on it for you if you don't have a dealer with a service department right there.
The best part about the simmer is that it isn't that hard to adjust. I've replaced all my igniters with a different type (and the spark module). With that done, I was able to adjust the low flame even lower on all the burners.
On the oven, I think all ovens (even electric), have a decent swing in temperature over their thermostat on-off range. Say at least 15 to 30F. Our oven has served us fine, but we don't use it tons and tons.
I said earlier (above on 21 JAN) that if I could find the link to BS service videos I would send it. Here it is:
I think the videos a geared toward the most common questions and are designed to help the owner make the most of their time without having to have a service call. The BS site also has some cooking demo videos that are good to watch. Sorry it took so long to get the link and I hope this helps.
don't forget that the grate can be turned 45 degrees to move it higher away from the flame, lowering your simmer further :-)