Cleaning the oven is always one of my most-hated chores. I have gone so far as to post on here before about just how much I hate doing it. Soaking the racks, trying to get off the burnt-on bits, then struggling on the floor to reach past the pull-down doors to get right inside. Always amazed by just how much grease and grime can be deposited, just by cooking for two, and using very little oil or grease in the process.
The harsh chemicals require the wearing of gloves, or they will strip the skin off your hands and arms. Trying to use non-chemical methods, like baking powder and vinegar, resulted in an awful congealed mess. So much for the You Tube videos that made that look so easy! Buying special ‘cleaning bags’ to soak the racks in still left me having to scour them afterwards, and trying to scoop all the cleaning foam out of the oven means a double clean, as the floor tiles always get covered, no matter what I put down to avoid it.
Modern fan-assisted ovens may cook evenly, but they also manage to make the ovens even dirtier. When we bought our new oven in 2011, I was pleased to read that it had a ‘self-cleaning’ feature. According to the instruction book, all I had to do was to turn the heat to maximum, and let it run for one hour. That would carbonise the residue, which could then just be ‘swept out with a brush’. Yeah right, like that actually happened. All it succeeded in doing was to bake everything on twice as hard, and make it even harder to get off. Thanks for that tip, Mr Neff Ovens!
Late last year, my vertigo made bending forward into those ovens so difficult, I had to admit defeat. After wobbling around on the floor for an hour feeling dizzy, I had to leave the job half-done. Fast-forward to Christmas, 2017. Lots of extra cooking. Roasting a turkey, roasting legs of lamb. Extra roast vegetables, and numerous dinners for guests. By the 2nd of January, the oven looked like a war zone, and was beginning to give off an unpleasant smell when in use. Even the powerful extractor fan above the hob couldn’t cope. I changed the filters, and cleaned it a bit, as best as I could. But I knew that I had to bite the bullet, and surrender to the inevitable.
Today, two young men arrived, from a local company that specialises in cleaning ovens. They dismantled the doors, and removed all the fittings too. With their own special (and no doubt secret) formula, they set to work cleaning both ovens, and all the racks. I popped into the kitchen occasionally to check on the progress, and could see them applying the best cleaner of all. Elbow grease, and hard work. Small scrapers fitted with razor blades were doing the main job, and they had some scourers that looked like they could scrape the scales from a crocodile’s back. The racks had been taken outside to be soaked in another magical solution, and returned looking as good as new. I could even see through the glass doors at the front of each oven, and the blown bulb inside had also been replaced.
Even allowing for their expertise, the job took almost three hours, and was not cheap. But it was money well spent, to free me from the worst job on the domestic schedule, and leave us with perhaps the cleanest oven in Beetley.
At least for today.