Wood-fired ovens are a rarity in homes, and a valuable one at that. Often those who own them — whether at home or in business — have limited resources when it comes to maintenance. Caring for these sorts of ovens is often swept under the pretence of it’ll burn away next time. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. It is necessary to regularly and efficiently clean your wood-fired ovens in order to combat the pizzas from taking up unpleasant scents or tastes. Plus, if soot in the oven builds up, it stands a chance to catch fire.
Arguably the best result of an oven-baked pizza is the quality. The authentically-baked technique enhances that unrivaled and unique aroma and flavour. And wood is the main factor. Untreated hardwoods with less than 20% moisture are the way to go. Wood-fired oven-users sees them as the best due to their heat generation in relation to their volume. Proffessionals typically favour bluegum, black wattle, and rooikrans. They bring a wonderfully unexpected pungent twist to any pizza — especially fruitwoods, such as cherry. Slightly moisten the floor of the oven before cooking. Once your wood of choice has been arranged into the classic teepee structure, with the kindling at its base, your pizza is ready to go!
Clearing Ash in Wood-Fired Ovens
After baking, ashes and crumbs of food will have collected on the floor of the oven. To clean this well, wait for these ashes (not to mention the floor) to cool. Then rake them to the centre and sweep them out. For better results, you can use stiff-bristled iron scrubbing brushes, too. After storing these contents in a metal container, you can can even use them as fertiliser.
Although one should keep moisture in a wood-fired oven (with the exception of prior to cooking) at a minimum, one of the most risk-free methods used to thoroughly remove greasy spots or mases of food is to scrub the oven with a sponge soaked in a water and vinegar mixture — it is, however, vital to rinse the floor of the oven with as little plain water as possible after this process.
Finicky Areas Within Wood-Fired Ovens
If food and ash get stuck in the small cracks between bricks in the base of your oven, use a bellows. You can make use of this handheld air pump to provide an oxygen boost for the fire, or a sharp burst of air to clean out slits of built-up ash.
Steer Clear From…
Avoid chemical-based products, such as detergents or cleaning agents, at all costs, as they may damage the bricks the pizza sits on.
The Baseline for Maintaining Wood-Fired Ovens
In summary, the maintenance of a wood-fired pizza oven isn’t all too strenuous, or pricey, or even that time-consuming. Proper care for these types of ovens is typically an unwritten rule, so here’s the handbook.
Aimee van der Merwe
See our menu here: https://ovenbakedpizzeria.co.za/menu/