# Why don't dishes boil in the oven?

I make pot roast and I bring it to a boil on the stove. It boils furiously. I then put it into the 350 degree oven, and it slows down to a simmer. Why is this? Shouldn’t it continue to boil like mad?

When you put your pot on a gas stove the air under the pot is quite a lot hotter than 350 degrees. Also there is a fair amount of movement of the air down there such that the air that is cooled down by contact with the pot is constantly being replaced by air that is hotter. Ovens don’t have the same amount of air circulation that the range has and they are cooler so a lot less heat is transfered to the pot.

Heat transfer. The heat from the water is going into the roast faster than heat from the air can go into the water.

Ovens transfer heat via convection, whereas the range transfers heat via conduction.

Would you call how a gas range transfers heat to a pot conduction? I am not sure. I would agree that an normal electric range transfers heat by conduction.

The stove top burner is a lot hotter than 350 degrees and you’ve probably set it to “high” to get the water to boil faster. Once the water is boiling, most of that energy is just being wasted turning the water to vapor faster.

There’s also a sharp temperature gradient on the stovetop. The only liquid that’s actually at boiling temperature is at the bottom of the pot, while the stuff at top is cooler. So you get a lot of convection with the big bubbles of steam rising. In the oven, the heat is applied more evenly, so maybe the boil isn’t as violent.

I would say yes, because often times the gas that is combusting is touching the pot. If there is convection going on, there isn’t much.

Hot air in the oven doesn’t transfer heat to objects as quickly as the hot material of the hob plate (or the gas flames, if you have that kind of stove top). This is also why you can reach into the oven to stir something without the skin being seared off your arm, but you can’t put your hand directly on the working hotplate with impunity.

… but it’s boiling when it simmers, isn’t it? It’s just boiling more slowly.

Maybe I don’t understand the word “simmers” correctly, this is just my experience with cooking stuff. But I cook in Spanish.

Yes, simmering can really be thought of as meaning very gentle boiling; the temperature of the contents of a simmering pan and the contents of a boiling pan will be quite similar (you can only heat water to boiling point under normal conditions), but in the boiling pan, moisture is being driven off at a faster rate - that’s what the bubbles are; steam - so a simmering pan is less likely to boil dry and burn, either in whole or part.

OK, thanks.