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Frequently Asked Questions - The AGA FAQ

FAQ Index

Why are Aga cookers always on?
Why do Aga cookers need regular servicing?
How do I clean my Aga?
It's got no temperature adjustments. How can I cook?
We have hot summers, won't the kitchen get too hot?
What model should I buy?
Do I need any special cookware?
Sometimes I burn things to a crisp. Can you help?
What is the best way of drying clothes on an Aga?
Is the enamel finish on modern Agas the same as on older models?


Why are Aga cookers always on?

Aga cookers take a long time to come up to cooking temperature. We found that, from cold, ours took 18-24 hours to reach peak cooking temperature. So, the only way that an Aga can be used effectively is keep them turned on. Agas also work very hard when starting up from cold which uses up fuel at a significant rate. If you were to use an Aga cooker like a conventional one and turn it on only when needed you would only manage to cook about 3 meals a week and you would also loose all the other benefits associated with them (for instance keeping the kitchen nice and warm, always having somewhere to dry clothes, heating your domestic water supply if supported by your particular model).
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Contributed by: Lynn and John (agacentral.com).

Why do Aga cookers need regular servicing?

An excellent question. We can only speak from our experience with an Oil fired model. During the running of the Aga, carbon deposits slowly build up in the pipes that feed the oil burner. Eventually, these deposits narrow the pipes to the point where the burner no longer receives the quantity of fuel necessary to keep the Aga up to full temperature. The temperature begins to drop until the Aga can no longer effectively cook meals or heat water etc. When serviced, the carbon deposits are removed allowing the fuel to flow properly. During the service the burner itself is also cleaned and the whick is replaced. Various other checks are also performed, for example testing that there is a good flow of air up through the flue/chimney. The safety checks performed during a service are an essential part of life with an Aga cooker.
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Contributed by: Lynn and John (agacentral.com).

How do I clean my Aga?

Well, the ovens and the hot plates are virtually self cleaning. This is a result of the Aga being always on as any spillages are carbonised meaning that a quick brush out on occasion, normally when the Aga has been turned off for servicing, is all that is necessary. The enamel coating of the Aga is a different matter however and, contrary to popular opinion, often needs more than just a quick wipe down with a damp cloth. Sure, if you catch dirt and spillages early enough, ie when still wet, a quick wipe will suffice but often, as is human nature, spillages are not cleaned up as soon as they happen and soon go hard. We found that a weak solution of soda crystals in warm water and a sponge works quite well. You need to make sure that you wipe off any soda crystal residue with clean cold water otherwise you are left with a cloudy film. A regular clean in this way, when the Aga is turned off for servicing, is also something that we found effective. By the way, we found this effective on the enamel coating of a 1940s (ish) Aga and have no idea how suitable this approach is for more modern Agas (we understand that the enameling process has changed).
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Contributed by: Lynn and John (agacentral.com).

It's got no temperature adjustments. How can I cook?

We asked ourselves exactly the same question. The ovens and hotplates already provide a variation so the first step is to choose the right part of the Aga to cook on. We achieved further adjustment by placing pans etc slightly off the hotplates to varying degrees. Often recipes talk about bringing to the boil and then simmering so, for instance, start off on the boiling plate and then move to the simmering plate. It's easy to get the hang of. An extreme way of lowering the temperature of an oven is to place large pans of very cold water on the hot plates; this gradually reduces the temperature within the ovens. We only ever did this a few times in all the years we had our Aga, usually for cakes.
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Contributed by: Lynn and John (agacentral.com).

We have hot summers, won't the kitchen get too hot?

The truth is, quite possibly. Even in our English climate, exceptional summers did cause a degree of discomfort in the kitchen. Oh, by the way, air conditioning is not the answer. You end up with two different systems, the air conditioning and the Aga, fighting each other for supremacy. We opened some windows, which helped a bit. I suspect that some Aga owners turn theirs off during hot summers.
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Contributed by: Lynn and John (agacentral.com).

What model should I buy?

Well, we think that there are four major questions that need to be answered:

  • How many ovens do you need?
  • What fuel option suits you best?
  • Do you want your aga to heat you domestic hot water?
  • What colour should it be?

The number of ovens depends on how much you need to cook for a meal. If you're the type that has dinner parties with lots of guests then a four oven model might be the best option for you. Just to give you an idea, one christmas we cooked for 10 in our two oven model. There was a great deal of juggling around that needed to be done though and a four oven model would have been more suitable.

The fuel option is a hard one and we can only comment on the oil fired model that we used to own. The main objections to this fuel are the requirement to have an oil tank fitted somewhere (outside) and the ongoing requirement to arrange for it to be refilled when the level drops too low. On the other hand we were informed that Oil was a relatively economical fuel; it was at the time but prices do change. When deciding ask about fuel costs for a year, the service intervals for the fuel option (they do vary you know) and the cost of the services.

Some Aga models will heat your domestic hot water supply. Ours did and we found it very useful, hardly ever needing to use our water tank immersion heater. Ours also ran a towel rail in our master bathroom. We are not sure what the downsides to this option are; it's probably more expensive to install and may increase the Aga's fuel consumption. Ask the vendor about this option before you decide.

As for the colour, well, choose a nice one :-)
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Contributed by: Lynn and John (agacentral.com).

Do I need any special cookware?

Yes, long term you do, although you can probably get by for a while with your existing stuff (we did). Basically Aga hotplates get very hot. For this reason the cookware you use on them requires a thick base. The bases also have to be very flat so that contact is made on as much an area as possible between the base of the pan and the hotplate. This improves the efficiency of the heat transfer between the pan and the hotplate. All the Aga cookware we came into contact with was top quality stuff and it really does last a long time. Something that you should consider seriously before buying new cookware for your Aga is that the majority of cooking is done in the ovens; for this reason we recommend that any pans etc that you buy should be oven proof (watch our for those wooden handles, they do make the pans look nice but many are not oven proof).
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Contributed by: Lynn and John (agacentral.com).

Sometimes I burn things to a crisp. Can you help?

Yep, by issuing this warning by way of an example. We once cooked a loaf of bread for 24 hours. It came out as hard as rock, looking like a huge piece of coal. This was due to a combination of a lousy memory, having too much to do and a certain little characteristic of Aga ovens that we have not mentioned yet. You don't smell the food until the door is opened. So, instead of getting the usual hello, there's buring food in me kind of early warning, you get nothing. This is because all the cooking smells go straight up though the chimney or flue. Had we wondered out into the garden we may have noticed that the loaf was burning.
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Contributed by: Lynn and John (agacentral.com).

What is the best way of drying clothes on an Aga?

Invest in a dolly maid (or clothes dryer). These are suspended above the Aga from the ceiling and are basically a frame onto which wet clothes can be hung. They are height adjustable (via a rope and pulley system) allowing easy loading and unloading and are a great accessory.
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Contributed by: Lynn and John (agacentral.com).

Is the enamel finish on modern Agas the same as on older models?

No, it isn't. In the 1940s they used a cooler enamelling process which gave a better and harder finish, but it was harder to get consistent results, so they moved over to the newer finishing process. So the enamel on the old Standard Model CB, for instance, was harder and probably better quality than what is used today.
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Contributed by: Richard Maggs (The Aga Advantage).