Aga Owners - I need your help and experience!(58 Posts)
On Monday I am almost certainly going to be putting in an offer on a house.
The main selling point for me was the kitchen, which has been done to a seriously high standard and is a great space.
Except. It has an Aga.
I know nothing about Agas. The lady was waxing lyrical about it and I was just making "mmhhmm" noises. I did pick up some points:
It's a 4 oven Aga
It is gas converted
The ovens are 250, 180, 120 degrees and warming
She leaves it on all the time.
She thinks I could sell it for 4K
I feel like I have a billion questions, all of which I really should have asked at the time .
Ok, so how easy/hard is it to use an Aga?
Leaves it on all the time? Won't that cost a fortune?
Would I have to buy all special pots and pans?
How do the two hot plate things work - can the heat be regulated? Why only two hot plates (I'm used to 6 burners)
What's the flat plate thing on the left?
That's just for starters! Now I could just get rid of it, but the lovely kitchen has pretty much been built around it, and my range cooker is about a foot smaller, so we'd either have a big gap either side of it, or have to call in the kitchen guy she used to fit it in properly.
The thought of an Aga kind of scares me, I'm all for convenience usually. But I think I'd be willing to have a go.
Can anyone persuade/dissuade me?
I moved into a house with a 4-oven gas Aga 4 years ago. I LOOOOOVE it.
I am sure you will too.
Best way is to embrace it fully. I bought some books (Richard Maggs is great) and I also went to a couple of demos at the Aga shop. Learn how to cook things the AGA way (i.e. cooking things mostly in the ovens rather than on the hobs)
- Aga roast potatoes are the best thing in the world.
- Cooking rice in the simmering oven by the absorption method is fab. I add some chopped up raw carrot and some raisins, and it is yummy.
- Baking in the Aga is brilliant.
- Aga meringues are fab and so easy
- Slow-cooked stews are great. In the winter, I often chop up a load of veg/meat at breakfast time, chuck it all in the simmering oven with some stock (bring it to a simmer on the boiling plate first) and then go out for the day - come back at tea-time to the most amazing smell and tasty dinner.
- You can buy special Aga clothes airers. I have one that stands above the hot plates, and a standing rack that hooks on to the rail in front of the Aga. I do a wash while we're having dinner, hang it out after dinner, and it's all dry when we get up in the morning. That way it's not hanging around in the day.
Don't know if your Aga has had 'AIMS' fitted? It is an electric device that allows you to set your Aga on a timer. We had it done when we moved in - cost about £1,500. Now we set it so that the Aga goes down very low overnight (clothes still dry, though) and only comes up to full strength at 4pm on weekdays ready for cooking dinner. There is still enough heat to boil the kettle, make toast, cook quite a few things (put them a 'higher' oven than they would normally go in), but you're using less energy. Also, you can set it to go off while you're on holiday but turn itself on a few hours before you come back so you come home to a toasty oven ready to cook with. It is supposed to reduce running costs about 30%, so payback in 3 years or so. It worked for us.
When we were visiting my DM last year, she was very amused when my 3yo came in from a walk and rushed into the kitchen to hang his wet socks to dry in front of her ordinary, cold oven. DS was most confused that they didn't get dry
I have an aga and I love love love it. Mine runs on oil though and is very expensive to run however it heats the kitchen, does the ironing (fold damp clothes/sheets on it and they'll be ironed!) and dries socks and fiddly stuff (my compromise to having an aga is I don't have a tumble dryer. Recently we turn it off from April to September and I miss it terribly when I do that. The thinking behind aga cooking is 80% in the over/20% on top. So if you are cooking rice or potatoes you bring them to the boil and then pop a lid on and put it into the top oven (I only have a 2 oven one). I bake a lot because of the aga (I don't bake at all when it's off) and both my mother and MIL have aga's and are equally enamoured with theirs. Do go to the Aga shop demonstrations - and buy the books. Mary Berry is a user and gives great advice.
In my house the order of priority for me goes:
BTW - with an AGA you never need worry about leaving the cooker on.......
I'll add my own experience for you to think about, even though it's long out of date.
We had a large, three storey new build house and we chose to put in a mains gas fired, 2 oven Aga which also did the hot water. Having it heat the water meant that we could claim the VAT back in with all the other new build claim, but we wouldn't have been able to do that if it was cooking only.
We did also have a combi microwave. With hindsight we'd have been better forgetting the microwave bit and gone for a separate small cooker so that we had a separate hob for use during the hot summer months, or when we came back from longer absences. We had an immersion heater fitted to the hot water tank, so we had options.
I'd never used an Aga or other range before, but DH particularly wanted one and I didn't mind. We both loved it, although not so much as we moved in Christmas week and it blew out on Christmas morning - one side effect of cooking everything in the ovens is that you rarely get any cooking smells (it's vented directly outside) so it was as well we were checking. Also a good kitchen timer is absolutely essential incase you forget what you've put in there and by the time you remember it's charcoal.
We bought original Aga pans and kettle and le Crueset heavy cast iron casseroles and they're all still in daily use 18 years later. The moral of that being the stuff's expensive but you certainly get your money's worth.
The 'ironing' is fantastic, more 'pressing' really, but just beware of your folded items draping over the lids, or things over the rail getting too close.
DD's dark blue jumper once developed some unexpected orange stripes
Make sure your vendor leaves the cooling plate (used to lower oven temperature) and any pans or the toast grid that she's happy to let you have. And yes, do get some really good quality oven gauntlets to protect your arms.
When we had ours the doors simply lifted up from the 'hinges' for cleaning and the inside of the oven you just sweep out with a wire brush.
We really enjoyed the food we cooked in the Aga, there are untold amounts of resources in books and online, which will help you get the hang of things, just set in your mind what the technique is and you'll be fine. The food does seem to stay more moist as well, which is a bonus and it's great of course for cooking in advance to freeze things.
I think you get a lot more creative in your use of what is more than an oven, because it's on anyway, you find all kinds of things to utilize its warmth and it will help with the large kitchen.
We don't have an Aga where we are now, but have gone for a different manufacturer, Everhot, which is a programmable range where you can set temperatures and it turns lower overnight. It also has a grill element, which our old Aga didn't have. Our electricity monthly payment is £133 for a very large house. The oil bill doesn't even bear thinking about, but that's heating only - not the range. We've been lucky most of this winter that warmth from the range has meant we haven't needed the central heating on quite as much, so it is a bit swings and roundabouts for us with the bills.
Hope your purchase goes smoothly and that the above might be of some help.
PS if you do much decorating, the Aga lids with a cloth on are fab for drying out your cleaned brushes.
LtEve, I also have a 4-door, inherited.
I - and therefore we - could not live without it.
In our case it saves us money, because one room is always warm, so we don't have the heating on during the day. However this is a big old house in a very cold part of the country, so that may not apply to you.
My only caveat is yes, stir-frying isn't really possible so my long-term plan is to get a gas hob next to it for the odd occasion I need that.
I can't offer any experience as I'm a new Aga owner but I just wanted to add what I can
I have a four oven Aga (13amp electric) and I would highly recommend buying Aga cookware - yes it's bloody expensive but it is designed for the job and the perfectly flat bases mean that the pans are much more efficient when used on the hot plates. If te owner takes all her cookware with her (and she will if she plans on having an Aga again!) you can buy a 'starter kit' from your local Aga store or from agacookshop.co.uk which has all the basics. Also invest in a couple of books as previously recommended.
I'm three months in with mine and whilst I haven't yet become evangelical about it, I'm getting used to it. Christmas dinner was difficult but I cooked LOADS and should have cooked the turkey overnight to avoid losing heat from the roasting oven. Oh well, lesson learned!
Yes it's on all the time and I'm expecting huge electric bills but Aga do tell you that you can save money because you no longer need a toaster, microwave, tumble drier etc ... and it's true that mine does spend every night covered with drying washing!
Cooking wise, I spent the first two weeks using it to heat up ready meals and frozen pizzas! I've now graduated to using it as a huge slow cooker and do a roast once a week. Haven't quite got the hang of anything that needs boiling yet eg rice or potatoes - you are supposed to start on the boiling plate then transfer to the simmering oven. I'm still working on that. Pot roasts are fab, as are Yorkshire puds (use the Mary Berry recipe) and last night I did my first risotto, which was delicious
On the whole I'd say embrace it, yes it's a whole new way of cooking but it's good fun and let's face it, they are a thing of beauty to look at !!
Rice is super-easy, Labrador. I use a small Aga casserole dish, but you could use any lidded dish that can go on the hob and in the oven (e.g. Aga saucepan with removable handle).
1 mugful of rice
2 mugfuls of water (or stock if preferred)
2 peeled and diced carrots (optional)
1/2 mugful of raisins (optional)
- Put it all in the casserole dish, put lid on (leave open a crack so doesn't boil over) and stand on the boiling plate.
- Once the water is bubbling, put the lid firmly on and put dish in the simmering oven.
Leave for about 30 mins (depends on type of rice). Doesn't matter if you leave it too long - it'll be fine for quite a while after it's cooked. When you're ready, take it out, and you've got lovely tender rice, plump raisins and steamed carrots.
For steamed potatoes, also lovely and super-easy.
- Peel as many potatoes as you want, cut them to the size you want. Put them all in the casserole dish. Fill with water, put lid on and put on boiling plate.
- Once the water is bubbling, pour all the water out (reserve to make gravy/sauce if you're doing that) and quickly put the lid on the casserole dish (which now just has potatoes in it)
- Put in the simmering oven and leave for about 30 - 40 mins (depends on size of dish / amount of potatoes. Again, it'll be fine in the oven for quite a while after it's cooked so no need to be precise on timings.
When you're ready, take it out. Lovely steamed potatoes, you can eat them like that or mash them. Much healthier steamed than boiled.
Both are much easier cooking this way than on the hob of a normal oven where you've got to keep an eye on things not boiling over/sticking to the bottom.
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