Best Outdoor Pizza Ovens
There are several types of outdoor pizza ovens available today. There are those which use gas or propane, there are those which use electricity, and then there are those which rely solely on wood burning technology.
All these ovens have their advantages and disadvantages. Here is a list of some of them:
Gas Pizzas – Gas pizzas offer the most flexibility in terms of cooking methods. They can be used either hot or cold, and they can be cooked with a variety of toppings.
However, the downside to using gas is that it takes longer than other types of ovens to heat up to optimal temperature. A typical pizza will take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on how much time you spend preheating your kitchen before starting the cooking process. You may want to consider adding a fan to speed up the heating process.
Electricity Pizzas – Electric pizzas are the newest type of pizza oven available. These ovens do not require any fuel or electricity to operate.
However, they tend to cook faster than gas ovens due to their ability to run at higher temperatures without overheating. Fans are usually not required for these ovens.
Log Pizzas – The most traditional pizza oven is the log pizza. These ovens require a constant stream of wood logs to keep them running.
The amount of smoke which comes from these ovens can be very annoying. These ovens also produce a lot of ash which should be cleaned out periodically.
Other Pizzas – There are many other types of pizza ovens, such as solar ovens and rocket mass heaters. These ovens tend to be very specific, and they may or may not require fuels which are less common than propane or wood.
In addition, some of these ovens require a lot of commitment in terms of time and money.
Best Commercial Pizza Ovens
Commercial pizza ovens are generally larger and more expensive than their residential counterparts. In addition, many of these ovens are too large for home kitchens.
There are a few popular types of commercial pizza ovens to consider before making your choice:
Gas Pizza Ovens – These pizza ovens work in much the same way as residential ovens do, except that they can be turned up to a much higher temperature than a home oven. These ovens can cook a typical large pizza within 90 seconds or less.
They also tend to be easier to control and clean. On the downside, they require a lot of gas to run properly.
Electric Pizza Ovens – These ovens work by heating metal elements which are embedded in the interior chamber of the oven. These elements get very hot, and can be turned up to a very high temperature.
They cook pizzas very quickly, and can produce very crispy crusts. They are easy to control and clean as well. There is a catch, however. Because these ovens rely on electricity, if the power goes out while you are cooking, the pizza will not be finished cooking when the power comes back on.
Infrared Pizza Ovens – These ovens use a combination of infrared heating lamps and convection air flow to crisp the crust of a pizza. They cook pizzas very quickly, and do not require any attention at all while cooking.
The only real disadvantage is that these ovens can only cook one pizza at a time.
Wood Burning Pizza Ovens – These ovens use real fire to cook pizzas. They are generally very large and must be built into a wall of an outside area to function properly.
They cook pizzas slowly, and can burn down your house if proper precautions aren’t taken. They do, however, impart a wonderful smoky flavor to the pizza that other types of ovens can not match.
Other Types of Pizza Ovens – There are many other types of specialty pizza ovens, such as solar ovens and rocket mass heaters. These ovens tend to have very specific functions, and may or may not be practical for your needs.
In addition, many of these specialty ovens require fuels which may or may not be readily available to you.
Other Common Types of Home Ovens
In addition to traditional and commercial ovens, there are other types of ovens which you may wish to look into. Many of these ovens are designed with special functions in mind, and can be used to make certain types of dishes.
Rotisserie Ovens – These ovens are designed to cook entire animals or fishes, rotating them slowly through the use of a motor and metal rod. These ovens are especially popular with people who enjoy cooking whole ducks, goats, pigs or turkeys.
Smoker Ovens – These ovens have an added feature which blows smoke through the chamber while the food is cooking. The smoke infuses the flavor of whatever food you are cooking, and they are popular among people who like to cook large cuts of meat, such as brisket or pork shoulder.
Casserole Ovens – These ovens are designed with low profiles to accommodate large, flat dishes. They generally have no temperature controls, and instead rely on the user to self regulate the heat to avoid burning their food.
Rotary Ovens – These ovens are designed to accommodate multiple dishes at once. They generally have 6 or 8 cooking chambers which each have their own rotating tray.
Gas Deck Ovens – These ovens are designed to be installed on top of a freestanding gas range. They are generally smaller than their traditional counterparts, and can be used for small meals such as pizzas or personal desserts.
History of the Oven
Although the history of cooking over an open fire dates back hundreds of thousands of years (if not more), the oven as we know it today is relatively new.
The first ovens were nothing more than holes in the ground which were covered by a roof of some sort. By lighting a fire below the hole, and keeping the flames from spreading with dirt, early man was able to cook his food to a crisp.
This technique was later refined with the addition of bellows and better engineering. By building chambers and ducts, the ancient Egyptians were able to create an oven which could be fired up to very high temperatures. These types of ovens were mainly used for baking bread, which was reserved for the upper class, and the lower classes were generally not allowed to eat.
The oven as we know it today, however, has its roots in ancient Rome. The Romans started building ovens out of stones, or bricks, and later cast iron to help increase and maintain heat.
These ovens were generally used to cook food, and many homes in ancient Rome had small versions of these ovens installed.
During the fall and winter months, when most farming activity was at a standstill, the Romans would slaughter many of their farm animals, as well as fowl which were not bred for their eggs. These animals would then be roasted over an open fire or inside a specially designed oven (such as the ongoing Roman obsession with bread).
The carcasses were often heavily salted to allow them to last a long time without spoiling. This period of time was generally reserved for the rich, who could afford to have their farm animals slaughtered, and then cured and roasted for days on end.
The Middle Ages
The medieval oven did not change much over the course of the next 1,000 years or so, although there was some innovation in the field of metal working during this time. The general design of the oven remained the same, although construction methods became more refined.
For most people during this period in time, the oven was still something which was used on a daily basis. Baking bread was still a relatively easy task, and most people could bake their own loaves after a few tries (even though they would probably be rather hard).
The lower class peasants and serfs of the time generally had small ovens installed in the homes which they were able to use for baking their own bread (or even making a small animal stew). The lords and royalty, of course, had much bigger and better ovens which were able to cook for larger groups of people.
Gas and Coal
The oven did not undergo any major changes until the industrial revolution began to take place. The invention of coal, and later gas, allowed for the ovens design to be modified slightly in order to harness these new fuels inside.
The inside of the oven also became much sturdier and more durable materials were used in order to ensure that the oven lasted a very long time. The outside of the oven was also made out of brick, and later steel, in order to protect it from the elements.
During the 20th century, many safety regulations were put into place which required that all new ovens be installed with protective measures, such as interlocks and sensors. These days, the oven is still in widespread use all over the world, and thousands of people use this device on a daily basis.
While certainly a luxury for most of us, it is hard to imagine what our modern kitchens would be like without this handy and versatile machine. The oven has been instrumental in allowing us to prepare a wide variety of food, from roasted meats to baked desserts.
The next time you fire up your oven to cook that meal, take a moment to appreciate this handy device which makes modern life a little easier and pleasanter.
Sources & references used in this article:
Ventilation system for pizza ovens by IR Kuechler – US Patent 4,616,562, 1986 – Google Patents
Exhaust hood for pizza ovens by JT Glassman – US Patent 4,944,285, 1990 – Google Patents
Orbital mechanism for pizza ovens by AF Pinto – US Patent App. 14/432,163, 2015 – Google Patents
Paper bags, planes and pizza ovens… by S Tapley – Primary Teacher Update, 2012 – magonlinelibrary.com
Oven battle heats up by G Cummings – Restaurant Bus, 1978 – agris.fao.org
Heat-Reflecting Enamel for New Ovens by C Baldwin – Ceramic Engineering and Science Proceedings, 2000 – Wiley Online Library