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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Can anyone tell me why food cooked in a wood cook stove oven is so much better than that cooked by other ovens? Is there a scientific explanation?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Cake will be moist, but done, perfectly, not too done on the top crust or the pan crust. Bread or muffins, the same way. Meat will be perfectly baked, and still retaining moisture and fat, with no burnt outside.

I built this house around a cook stove that someone gave me, ran it in with the skytrack while there were still openings. I burned some scraps in it for heat during the building process, (which took many years). But we only just started cooking on it. Downstairs is the heat stove, the cook stove was more a novel auxiliary heat source and centerpiece for the kitchen. My wife, city girl, never ate anything on one. I grew up eating off of them, and we chalked it up to romanticizing memories from childhood, until we put food in it. No, it is real. There is a reason the old neighbor lady would crank her stove in the summer while she had an electric range setting feet away. I thought it was some sort of superstition or distrust of the new fangled, but no, she just wanted to turn out a quality product instead of an inferior one at the risk of having to prop all the doors open and set on the porch between checking her food.

I spent a good bit of time on the interwebs last night after posing this question. I learned about heat. There is convection (someone blowing hot air on your neck) Conduction (someone warm with bare skin touching yours) and radiation (someone warm laying under the covers and you can feel their heat). A conventional electric oven has a burner emitting radiant heat, the kind that sears meat and browns crust. There is conduction happening in food that touches a pan and from the crust inward (also a searing type of heat). There is some convection from swirling air currents, but before they really do much, your food will be burnt on the outside, but maybe raw on the inside, from the radiant heat source, and the conduction from the pan exposed to a radiant heat source (the element or burner).

A wood cook stove is relying on a lot more convection, and there is is radiant heat emitting evenly around the walls of the oven, although the wall next to the firebox will be hotter, so you need to turn your bread. But the main source of radiant heat is shielded from your food, that heats up from convection, and much less conduction. IOW, if you put food in an electric range, it is exposed to an intense radiant heat source that creates a conductive heat source in the pan and the top crust, the convective heat isn't allowed to alter the temperature of the entire product before the outer edges are too far gone, and there is much less margin for error.

An electric range is much more efficient, no energy going up chimney, less heating up room, but there is a cost for this efficiency. They both use a radiant heat source, which is like an electric element, the sun, a flame, hot coals, a mammal burning calories. But the wood stove has a huge radiant heat source, that is isolated from the oven.

That is my take on it, after a night of reading, someone else might correct me, and I would appreciate if they did.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Actually learned a lot in that search for information. The more dense a material, the better it conducts heat, simple physics. Air is almost a better insulator than a conductor. Then you have water. Water only gets to 212 (at sea level) so if you have something like cake batter, with a lot of water, it can only get to around 212, until it dries out enough, then it can go way up. That is why you go from almost done to burnt so quickly. Meat is mostly water, when the water cooks out there is a rapid increase in temperature. A hot dog in boiling water versus a hotdog in a skillet, both on a burner the same intensity will yield different results, the hotdog in boiling water only ever gets to 212. Once water becomes steam, it can get hotter than 212. Water can heat up air better than air can heat up water, and a piece of iron will heat them both up quicker. There is a lot going on inside a stove. A hundred years ago the wood cook stove was a state of the art appliance, replacing a dutch oven hanging over a fire in a fireplace.
 

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It is the same way with wood stoves for heat vs forced air electric or gas furnaces. My wife used to ask the same question- "why does the heat from our cast iron stoves feel so much better?"
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It is the same way with wood stoves for heat vs forced air electric or gas furnaces. My wife used to ask the same question- "why does the heat from our cast iron stoves feel so much better?"
With that, you have to consider that you are blowing air that has been heated slightly, into rooms, until it trips a thermostat. This is heating the air (which is a poor enough heat conductor that it can be used as an insulator) to a temperature, and then cycling off. Your walls can still be cold and suck heat out of the room until the thermostat trip again. If you crank it up to 80 for a while, it might get a jump on the cool walls, and warm them up beyond your target heat, and allow them to be a radiant heat source while the thermostat has cut off, but that gets expensive. The wood stove is a constant heat source that uses a much higher temperature to force air that isn't moving nearly as fast, and heats up your walls, things in the room, etc.

The wood stove also gives you a spot that is 250 degrees to warm up if you get cold. Or for your wife to warm up if she gets cold. My experience is that cold wives are unhappy wives. An unhappy wife is an unnecessary complication to a man's life. I could crank the thermostat to 80, and she wouldn't feel a cold draft when the heat kicked in, and feel cold before the thermostat tripped, but then she would be unhappy when the power bill comes in. So I put wood in the stove and keep it cranking until I see contented behavior, knowing that as it burns down the walls are going to radiate some heat, and that if I'm not quite up to target heat, a brief period next to the stove will cause contented behavior to resume.
 

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My tertiary heat source is a 1950's Home Comfort that was used in a logging camp until 2000. I cooked a Thanksgiving meal on/in it years ago and the first year before the house was insulated it helped with heat.

My primary heat it's provided by a momma and grandpa Fischer heat stoves. I cook on both of them and it's easier. You can even bake on a heat stove, I use a turkey roaster with a cooling rack on the bottom.
 
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