Everything Newfoundland & Labrador with its Culture, Cuisine and Traditions

Old Wood Stove Conversion Temperatures

It’s amazing how our grandmas and moms actually did their baking years ago. Most of them used wood stoves that did not have modern temperature controls or any for that matter to adjust their baking time as we do today. It was through their know-how and constant vigilance that they were able to maintain an even baking temperature. As we look back at some older recipes, the instructions are pretty vague when it comes to oven temperatures, in most cases it was slow, moderate or fast oven.

I remember Laverna Felix demonstrating a few tricks for regulating the oven temperature of our wood stove. She would throw some flour on a cookie sheet and place in the oven for a few seconds; if the flour quickly turned brown, the oven was very hot, if the flour started to change color, the oven was warm. Mrs Felix added that if you were baking pies, place a white piece of paper in the oven and if the paper curls up brown, the temperature is proper.

Other techniques used were, by feel, if you held your hand in the oven for a few seconds and it was too hot, then the oven was ready for baking. Often they simply when by sight. For example, when your bread, biscuits, cakes, etc., starts to brown, insert a straw (from the kitchen broom) in the centre of your product to check for doneness. If the straw came out clean – free of batter or crumbs – the product was done. We still use this same technique today, however, with a toothpick or a baking instrument.

If you have any old recipes that were passed down to you with the old fashion terms of temperature, you can use the guide below to bake or roast your grandma’s and mom’s favourite dishes. You don’t have to worry about filling up the stove with wood or keeping an eye on the oven.

Temperature

Fahrenheit

Celsius

Very slow oven

225

110

Very slow oven

250

130

Slow oven

275

140

Slow oven

300

150

Moderate oven

325

170

Moderate oven

350

180

Moderately hot oven

375

190

Moderately hot oven

400

200

Hot or fast oven

425

220

Hot oven

450

230

Very hot oven

475

240

Extremely hot oven

500

260

 

Formulas for exact conversions:

Convert Fahrenheit to Celsius:

Subtract 32 from Fahrenheit temperature, multiply the answer by 5 and divide by 9.

Convert Celsius to Fahrenheit:

Multiply Celsius temperature by 9, divide the answer by 5 and add 32.

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