General Question

ChrisIsNotHERE's avatar

What is the deal with the term "preheat?"?

Asked by ChrisIsNotHERE (6points) February 26th, 2010

I’ve always wondered why this word is used so often when talking about oven use. Is it just a misnomer like “near-miss?” Does it literally mean what the word implies (heating it up before you heat it up)?

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14 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Pre-heating the oven before you start cooking.

jca's avatar

if something has to be baked for a half hour, and you put it into a cold oven that takes 10 minutes to heat up to the proper temperature, then the thing is only really baking for 20 minutes. you’re supposed to get the oven up to the full temperature before you put the food into it.

dpworkin's avatar

It means that if the food is to be cooked at 450 f. you don’t put it in while the oven is cold.

JLeslie's avatar

Yes, it means heating the oven before putting the food in. If you put the food in before the oven is heated completely you may burn the bottom of whatever you are cooking if you are baking, because the flame or element is on for a while trying to get the oven to temperature. At minimum it may not cook evenly.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Welders also preheat many metal joints to be welded. The welding process itself, of course, heats metals to their melting points (over 1400°F in the case of carbon steel alloys), but it’s bad practice with some alloys to strike the arc on ‘cold’ steel, because it will induce unwanted stresses into the joint. So the welding procedure will often specify a “preheat” of a certain temperature prior to striking the arc.

More than you wanted to know, I’m sure.

andrew's avatar

I think the OP is talking more about the peculiarities of the phrase itself.

But you’ve got it right—you’re heating up the oven before you heat up your food, where “heat” would mean the heat used to cook.

JLeslie's avatar

Typically it says preheat oven to XXX degrees. I think it is obvious what the term/phrase means, isn’t it?

JLeslie's avatar

Do you mean techinically it should say heat oven to X degrees before putting the food in the oven. That is a much longer sentence.

andrew's avatar

@JLeslie That’s exactly what I interpreted the question to mean.

JLeslie's avatar

@andrew I think you are right. I reread the question.

Beta_Orionis's avatar

As @dpworkin pointed out, it is not “to heat before heating” but to heat the oven prior to placing what you plan to cook in the oven. Sometimes if you place the food in the oven prior to bringing it up to the specified temperature, the consistency will change or it will be under-cooked because part of the recipe time was spent warming up the oven and not actually cooking the food.

My understanding is that near-miss has to do with the proximity of the two objects/events and the potential severity of the collision that did not happen. It is not, as the literal interpretation implies, that something “nearly missed” and actually collided, but that it nearly happened, did not and should be noted because it would have been very serious had the event occurred. It may have suffered from a telephone effect and originated from “Near Collision” or something.

Near miss is much more strange than preheat in my mind. Sort of like Inflammable/Flammable, it’s only seems awkward or wrong if you’re interpreting too literally or uninformed.

Zen_Again's avatar

Someone asked me this in class once, so I can understand the confusion. As some of the others have already said, obviously the time the iten spens in the oven is much less if the ove is hot before putting it in. This is called pre-heating.

Not only that, most recipes call for an exact time at an exact temperature. You can only get this by getting the ove to be a certain heat first, and only then putting the item in. Thus, it is called pre-heating. If you want to bake the lasagna for 30 minutes at 180 degrees, you must first get the temperature of the oven up to 180 – so pre-heat the oven (for a few minutes) to 180 degrees, then put the lasagna in for 30 minutes.


PandoraBoxx's avatar

“Pre-heating” would seem to infer pre-heating, heating, post-heating….

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