Cooking on a Wood Burning Stove

In cooking on a woodstove, since the cookware never comes in contact with an open flame, you can use anything that you would use on an electric or gas stove.  Even so, cast iron is generally the cookware of choice.  Stainless steel is best for boiling water and making rice or pasta. AES offers great kettles that also come in handy.

With a good roaring fire going, the surface gets hot enough to boil water in about 25 minutes.  It’s not as hot as turning a stove burner on high.  And it can take a while to get the surface hot once a fire is started.  It’s not a matter of lighting the fire and being ready to cook.  Some patience is required.

Learning to control the heat while cooking can take a little practice, along with some trial and error.  The hottest a surface ever gets is when one has a full fire going and the stove damper is wide open.  The hottest place on the stove is in the middle next to the stove pipe.  With a full fire going, this is the best place to boil water and cook food that needs the highest heat.  Because my wood stove gives off what I would call a medium low heat on an electric stove, I often don’t need to think about reducing the heat.  If you should need to lower the heat, there are several ways that I can do it.  Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Let the fire burn down.  This is the most obvious, but not always possible.  After all, this is the only heat source for our house!
  • Place pots and pans further away from the center of the stove where the temperature is slightly cooler.
  • Close the damper on the stove.  This cuts off the air to the fire and makes the wood burn slower so the fire isn’t as hot.  This is certainly not the solution if something is burning because the temperature will not drop immediately!  But if you want to slow cook or warm leftovers, it can work well.  I generally only use this option if the house is getting too warm and I need to decrease the burn of my fire without putting it out.
  • Use a trivet.  This is a great method for reducing the heat.  You can use metal or cast iron would be even better.  They must not have wood or plastic parts.

Using a trivet on the surface of the stove works just like a crockpot.  When slow cooking all day, we suggest enamel cast iron dutch oven, but any stainless pot will work.  The trivet method is also great for warming up leftovers.  It’s a very low heat, so it generally doesn’t even require stirring!  But like all other wood stove cooking, it takes some time. Put leftovers on the trivet at least 15 minutes to half an hour before you want to eat.  It’s not a microwave!

 

How to remove soot and ash from Your Fireplace

It’s Time to Say So Long to Soot!
If your fireplace is sending smoke signals that it needs a scrub, here’s the quickest way to get it done — without putting a damper on your day

By Carolyn Forte

Biggest Fireplace-Cleaning Challenges
1. A pile of old ashes in the firebox

2. Black soot on the glass

3. Smoky stains on the surrounding brick, marble, or tile

Fastest Fireplace-Cleaning Fixes
1. Trash the ash. A wet/dry vacuum with a disposable bag will handle the job, once the pile has cooled for at least four days. But if you don’t have one of those heavy-duty suckers — or just don’t feel like hauling it out — do this instead: After the ash is completely cold, sprinkle it with damp tea leaves or coffee grounds to cover the stale smell and keep down dust (so you don’t inhale it). Then scoop the pile with a fireplace shovel (don’t worry if you can’t get it all — leaving an inch or two behind is fine), and dump it into a metal can, bucket, or even an old stockpot or clay flowerpot. Discard the mess outside, ideally in a metal trash container, but definitely away from your house.
2. Clear things up. To remove light soot or a cloudy film from glass doors, mix a solution of equal parts white vinegar and warm water and pour into a spray bottle. Spritz a bit on a paper towel and dip it into the fireplace ashes to use as a gentle abrasive (smart, right?). To finish, spray glass and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth. If soldered-on gunk won’t budge (and if you really care), scrape it away with a razor blade.
3. Brush it off. If you have smoke stains on your fireplace facing, begin by squirting them with water — it’ll keep the cleaning solution from soaking in too fast (this is particularly important with brick). Then dip a brush in a solution of 1/4 cup all-purpose cleaner to 1 gallon water; give spots a quick scrub; rinse with a clean sponge; let dry. For marble or other stones, squirt with water, then go over with a soft cloth dipped in mild dishwashing liquid and water. Rinse and wipe dry. One exception: If brick facing is more than 50 years old, it may crumble if you scrub with a cleaner. Just vacuum the surface with your soft-brush attachment.

Chimney Cleanup Made Easy
•    Pick up the tools. Buy a dust mask, a metal bucket with a lid to contain ashes, and a commercial cleaner designed to remove soot and smoke stains from brick, stone, and glass (all products available at AES AES Heath and Patio or local hardware stores or home centers).
•    Also consider this: Schedule an annual chimney checkup with a professional sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (csia.org).

Wood Stove Annual Maintenance

Now that its warming up,  it’s time to have your wood stove and chimney thoroughly inspected.  Most stoves have several things in common that must be taken care of.  Here are some things AES Hearthplace checks for:

1.  Clean the stove thoroughly.  It’s a messy job, but we have the tools to handle it.

2.  Worn GasketingAES can replace worn-out gasketing.  Gaskets make the door airtight, enhancing the performance of your wood stove  If you stove has a worn-out gasket or one that has come loose, the stove can get more combustion air than it was designed to handle.  Your stove won’t burn as clean and you’ll use more fuel.

3.  Does the door shut securely?  It may need adjustment.

4.   Draft ControlsAES can make sure the draft controls are operating properly.  Creosote will clog the controls making them difficult to move or to get a good seal.

5.  The Damper.  AES will make sure it’s functioning properly.

6.  Cracks.  If you have a cast-iron stove, check for cracks in and between the castings.  If you find some, we can probably repair them.

7.  Thin spots.  If you have a steel stove, you can check for thin spots by pressing firmly with the palm of your hand on any area that appears burned.  If it’s thinning it will flex.  If you discover a thin spot, its time to buy a new stove.

8.  Rust.  If you find rust, its possible to clean the rust off and repaint the stove, but you may as well look for a new stove.

9.  Catalytic UnitAES can remove and clean the catalytic unit.  This should be done every year to prevent it from plugging allow it to function efficiently.

10.  Cleaning the Glass Doors.  New stoves have an “air wash system” that keeps the glass doors cleaner longer.  For older stoves, or when you need to clean your glass doors, there are many great glass door cleaners on the market that will get rid of smoke stains and creosote from the glass. Just make sure the glass is cool before you clean or it may break.

11.  Important for Wood stove Inserts – AES will check the insulation on the surrounds, these are the plates that seal the area between the outside of the insert and the face of the fireplace.  If this insulation is worn, AES will replace it.