Efforts to take cooking away from the hearth and onto the stove—which was essentially a space heater and not a food cooker well into the 19th century—probably foreshadowed the housework revolution. Heating stoves were produced with holes whose covers could be removed and into which pots of various sizes could be set to boil. Finally, an effective cooking stove appeared by 1815. It burned wood on a contained hearth and had an iron top above with covered holes for pots. A fire door opened beside the hearth. Improvements flowed steadily thereafter, including an oven—first above the stove top but eventually located beneath it—and a grate that could be shaken to clear ashes. Later, a reservoir was added opposite the firebox to heat and store domestic water. Such stoves continue to be made in small quantities for use in remote or frontier situations, but by 1840 in England and 1860 in the United States, illuminating gas had come into use for cooking and a new kind of stove, or cooker in Britain, had begun its evolution into the modern gas range. Advances in the thermostat throughout the 19th century enabled the development of effective temperature controls for ovens. Kerosene stoves were created about 1875 and later modified for other liquid fuels, including gasoline. The electric range, experimented with very early in the 19th century, became popular in the 1930s and thereafter competed steadily with the gas range. Refinements of both these ranges included increasingly versatile timers to start and end cooking automatically at preselected times; double ovens; overhead or under-stove vents with fans to filter or eject fumes; and such special cooking elements as stockpots, rotisseries, deep fryers, griddles, and broilers with beds of ceramic coals to supply the flavour of charcoal-broiled meats. Range tops or cooking surfaces can be installed separately in counters or cabinets, and ovens can be set in walls, with or without the fireplace from which they sprang. In short, the stove has been automated so that a meal can be cooked in the absence of the cook and so that electricity will do tedious chores such as turning spits and even cleaning the oven.
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Whereas the electric stove generates heat through the resistance of iron wire to the passage of electric current, later developments in cooker design apply various forms of electromagnetic radiation. An infrared cooker, used mainly in commercial applications and especially to keep cooked foods warm, employs an infrared lamp; the unit must be housed in red glass that filters the radiation, thus confining it to the implement.
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