The Common Ground Country Fair was another fun and successful outing for us here at Maine Wood Heat Co. Having attended the fair each year since it began 34 years ago, we always look forward to seeing the bright medieval flags wave to us as we walk through the gates, the smell of wholesome, fresh food that fills the first breathes we take, and the sounds of fiddles and folk songs in the distance, giving us an extra skip in our step towards what will be our home for the next three days.
My favorite part of the fair is the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with beginner, intermediate and experts in wood fired heating and cooking in such an ideal setting. A full weekend of engaging with passerby’s while settled in next to friends and family, and a live fire in our Le Panyol got me thinking. Our Web site is much like our booth at the fair. Visitors stop in from all over the world looking for information, and probably ask the very same questions as those who stopped by our booth. So today I thought I would shed some light on these wide range of questions, in hopes they answer some of yours.
WOOD FIRED OVEN FAQ’S
1. Does this oven burn wood?
Yes, all of our Le Panyol ovens are designed to burn wood, not coal or gas. We are strong believers that nothing can compare to the “kissed by a wood fire” taste.
To achieve the cleanest, most efficient burn in both our wood fired ovens and heaters, we recommend selecting dry, well-seasoned hardwood with a moisture content of 20% or less.
2. Where does the wood go?
Using smaller diameter kindling-sized wood, we build a lattice stack near the door opening to ensure enough air can access and ignite the flames during the lighting process. Once the fire is established, we push it to the middle, then the rear. For complete firing instructions, click here.
3. Where do you position the fire within the oven?
Once we achieve a steady burn, we push the stack to the back of the oven, and wait until it starts to break down into coals. At that point, we place 2-3 pieces of wood on the fire at a time to keep the oven up to temperature for live fire cooking. We typically move the fire around both sides of the hearth to maintain an evenly heated cooking surface.
4. Does this oven cook pizza?
One of the many benefits of a Le Panyol is its versatility. It was initially designed as a bread oven, but considering bread is one of the most challenging foods to bake, it makes roasting meats, and veggies, and cooking pizzas easy as pie (no pun intended).
5. What do you mean by organic?
Le Panyol wood fired ovens are made of Terre Blanche clay, mined from a single quarry in France. This clay is all natural and completely unrefined. It has also been tested to meet all UL 2162, ULC S627-00 and ANSI/NSF 4 standards. This means, food can be placed directly on the hearth tiles because the organic properties do not denature it in any way.
All castable refractory ovens (the majority of modular ovens on the market, excluding Le Panyol) are made using some form of calcium aluminate cement, a prominent chemical additive in the refractory world. Firebrick are a blend of materials, and are the closest relative to Terre Blanche. However, firebrick’s material constituents don’t all come from the same hole in the ground. Our Terre Blanche tiles are also kiln fired which yields an earthenware product that requires none of the chemicals used in cast refractory materials.
6. How long does it take to bring the oven online?
To bring a residential oven (the model 66 – model 100) online takes between 45 minutes – 1 hour. A commercial oven (model 120 – model 250) would take slightly more, ranging from 1 – 2 hours. Once the mass is saturated with heat, the Terre Blanche clay hangs onto it.
7. What is the temperature in the oven?
When a Le Panyol wood fired oven is brought online to cooking temperature, the hearth will range between 700-800 degrees. You’ll know you’ve reached that sweet spot when the entire oven core turns white.
8. What’s the difference in cooking time between a Le Panyol wood fired oven and a conventional oven?
A Le Panyol wood fired oven typically cooks at least twice as fast as a conventional bake oven. Meats, especially, cook in almost half the time. Pizzas will cook in 2-3 minutes. This is not true, however, for all wood fired ovens on the market. Most wood fired oven brands, if the core consists of cast refractory or firebrick, take at least 4 hours to get up to temperature. Our Le Panyol ovens take a quarter of the time.
9. How much wood does it burn?
The amount of wood a Le Panyol oven burns depends on the model and application. On average you’ll probably go through about 40-60 lbs of wood every time you burn, maybe more if you’re burning all day. However, once the fire has been established and pushed to the back of the oven, the oven comes online and maintains that cooking temperature with minimal fuel.
10. Does this oven go in the house?
Our Le Panyol ovens can be installed in indoor and outdoor applications. The turnkey model we had on display at the fair (on the left), was designed for outdoor use because it’s preassembled, and built with proper outdoor ventilation.
11. How heavy is this oven?
The particular turnkey residential oven we brought to the fair weighs about 3000 lbs. Our commercial oven cores including insulation, weigh between 4000 – 8000 lbs.
12. Does the oven come in pieces?
All of our oven core kits come in pieces for DIY or on-site installations. You do have the option of ordering fully assembled residential ovens, which are part of our signature copper series (as seen above). Our commercial oven cores and turnkey models are typically custom built on-site because of their size and maneuverability, as well as to meet local health and commercial licensing regulations.
13. Can ovens be used to heat a home?
If you’d like the ability to heat your home, and also enjoy the art of wood fired baking, we typically recommend going with an AlbieCore masonry heater including a small bake oven located in the secondary burn chamber. Our Le Panyol ovens are designed specifically for baking, not for heating. For more information on our masonry heaters, click here.
14. How often do you have to polish the copper oven?
It all depends on your personal preference. If you like the shiny look, you’ll probably want to polish the oven once a month or so. If you like the weathered, patina look, no polishing is required. We like the various colors brought out during the welding process, so we generally don’t polish the joints in the copper dome, we only polish the middle of the copper segments (as shown below).
15. Does the copper get hot?
The copper dome surrounding all of our turnkey ovens is always safe to touch. The Le Panyol core absorbs and retains all of the heat given off by the fire. The dome acts as a beautiful, weather safe shell, not only making the oven easy on the eyes, but also protecting the core from all outdoor elements.
These FAQ’s only skim the surface in terms of the broad range of questions we get asked on a daily basis. If you would like additional information about any of the topics above, or if you have questions of your own, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d love to hear from you.