Last week saw that rarest of things – a British heatwave.
It was not just any heatwave either, it was the hottest June day since 1995 and the longest June heatwave since the 1970s.
Like many people, my kitchen faces west, which means it at least gets some of the dying light the rest of the year, but means during a heatwave that it’s unbearably hot. The question has always been, just how do I cool it down enough to use for cooking food?
Of course, the best way to deal with an overheating kitchen is good kitchen design. When designing a kitchen think about space use, yes, but also airflow. This means have a means for hot air to get out of the way (high ceiling) or the ability to bring cooler air into the kitchen from other parts of the house – for example through which doors are opened and closed. You can also have cool flooring like flag stones which can be covered with rugs in winter, but pared back to the cold, fresh stone in summer.
Improve the airflow
On a related note, you can find ways to make the kitchen cooler. A ready, installed kitchen is hard and expensive to re-design; especially if new. However, changes can be made. Some floors can be taken back to the bare stone to keep things cooler. Furthermore, blinds can be pulled down to keep the sunshine out while cool air comes in from elsewhere in the house. You can also add a swamp fan on the ceiling or have portable fans. Some might suggest an extractor fan or at least an AC unit to pump cooler air in – however, not all of these solutions are energy efficient or very green.
Yes, in Britain there’s nothing like cooking outside or having a barbecue to end a heatwave. However, cooking outside on a clear, sunny day is a great idea, gets the family in the garden, and out of the hot, stuffy house. Of course be mindful of your neighbours and how much smoke you produce or noise you make.
Change when you cook
Having a work at home job means it’s possible to vary my cooking times, so now I take to cooking the hot meal in the morning when the kitchen is still cool and the sun is baking my living room. Knowing when your kitchen heats up and cools down allows more flexibility in cooking times and strategies.
Low intensity cooking
By this we mean use means of cooking which do not involve having the oven on for hours; especially if you don’t have a fan assisted oven. This could mean boiling things, using pressure cookers, slow cooking on a low heat, or dare I say it… microwaving.
Of course, we could try not cooking
A good general knows when to quit and sometimes it’s just too hot to cook without feeling like you’ve bought a dual-use kitchen-Swedish sauna. In these circumstances it’s probably best to look to your kitchen as a non-cooking area – instead prepare nice, cool, meals like salads, cold meats, bread rolls, cheese, cold pastas from the fridge, and if all that fails – make sure you have strawberries and ice cream.