Investing in authentic pizza ovens means much faster cooking times, locked-in nutrients and flavors, and the ability to cook just about any kind of dish you can think of. However, just like any other appliance, your Italian pizza oven will need to be cleaned in order to maintain those great flavors and faster meals. These tips will help keep your oven looking and cooking great for years.
Let It Cool Down
We’ve all done it; you reach into your oven to pull out yet another delicious meal and notice all that soot, ash, and other debris coating the walls and sitting at the bottom of your oven. A dirty oven is never easy to look at, so you might be tempted to get in there and scrub it clean.
While this might be possible to do with a conventional oven a few hours after using it, a wood-fired oven is a completely different animal for a few reasons. Not only can a pizza oven reach temperatures of 800 degrees F, but it holds that heat for a long time. Compare this with the oven you might have in your kitchen, which maxes out at 500 degrees F and dissipates heat quickly.
A wood-fired pizza oven will need a lot of time to cool; it’s best to leave the cleaning until a day or two after you’ve cooked in it. Otherwise, you are putting yourself at risk for serious burns. If your oven has already cooled and you’re ready to start cleaning, here’s what you’ll need.
Essential Pizza Oven Cleaning Tools
It’s as important to know what tools you’ll need for cleaning your oven as it is to know what not to use. Some products like soaps and abrasive liquid cleaners will only shorten the life of your pizza oven, so you’ll want to avoid those at all costs.
In addition to the other supplies you’ll need, you’ll also want to grab a pair of heat-resistant gloves. They won’t only protect your hands from hot spots that can lurk inside your oven but also come in very handy when placing foods into and removing them from your oven, and they will keep any soot from getting on your skin.
A scraper is a great tool when you need extra help to get rid of those stubborn burned bits of food that can often become stuck on your pizza stone while cooking.
An ash shovel is a definite must for removing ashes from your oven, as it’ll help you reach the ash that lingers at the back. It’s also ideal for transporting oven ash to a pail so it can be used elsewhere. More on that later.
A high-quality brass brush is essential for cleaning your oven, but you’ll never want to use something like a steel brush that’s normally used to clean a barbecue. Steel brushes will cause the floor of your oven to become scratched. Brushes with natural fibers are also not recommended, as they can burn very easily when they come into contact with hot surfaces.
Home Cleaning Ingredients or Cleaning Kit
Vinegar and water are really some of the only liquids that should ever be used. It can also help to have a bottle of Bar Keeper’s Friend and a few clean cloths to help keep the outside of your oven looking like new. A pizza oven starter cleaning kit will give you everything you need.
Steps for Cleaning
It’s definitely true that your residential pizza oven is a self-cleaning appliance. Running at such high temperatures every time it’s used allows a lot of cooking and other debris to be burned right off. However, in order to enjoy delicious and fast-cooking foods, your oven will need quick clean-outs after each use, as well as deep cleanings on a regular basis.
Get your gloves on, and get ready to beautify your oven!
1. Remove Debris and Ashes
Using your brush, reach right to the back of your oven and pull toward you to bring large pieces of wood and other debris to the front of the oven. Scoop them out with your hands and discard them. Then, grab your ash shovel, remove as much as you can, and place the ash into the garbage if you’re going to discard it. If you have a garden, those ashes can provide loads of nutrients for your plants after they sit outside three to four months. They can also be added to compost bins if you have them.
2. Scrape and Sweep the Oven Floor
Your scraper is the next tool you’ll need. Use it to scrape the floor of your oven, removing any ash, foods, or spots that have become stuck onto the cooking surface. Then, use your brass brush to sweep what’s left out of your oven and into the trash.
Wipe Inside and Out
Using a 1:4 solution of vinegar and water, spray the walls of your oven and wipe clean with a dry cloth. Then, put a small amount of Bar Keeper’s Friend onto a clean, dry cloth and wipe all exterior parts of your oven to remove soot and stains and restore your oven’s shine.
Important: Always wipe in the direction of the stainless steel grain for the best results with Bar Keeper’s Friend or the cleaners that came with your kit.
Steps for Cleaning Gas-Fired Pizza Ovens
Cleaning a gas-fired stainless steel pizza oven is much the same as cleaning its wood-fired counterpart.
Clean Pizza Stone
Remove the pizza stone and remove baked-on debris with your brass brush. Then wipe it using a dampened soft cloth. It's important to only do this while the stone is cold. Never do this with a hot or warm stone. It is also very important to use only a little bit of water on the cloth, as the stone is very absorbent and will crack if it is damp and exposed to high temperatures. Set the stone aside in a dry location and allow 24 hours for it to dry out before using it again.
Clean the Inside of the Oven and Replace Stone
The Corten Steel fire shield of every Fontana naturally oxidizes its surface, so there is no need to clean this part of the oven. If you'd like to use a shop vac with a brush attachment to clean any debris that may have fallen underneath the stones, this is fine to do, but you will need to remove the Corten Steel fire shield, the stainless steel wood holder, and the stones first.
You can gently remove the stones by hand. Feel free to use a flathead screwdriver to pry up the first stone. While vacuuming the floor of the oven floor, be mindful to do so gently, as some models have a fragile vermiculite spacer on the left-hand bottom side of the oven. This part can easily be broken.
There is no need to apply any cleaning solution to the interior of the oven, as smoke and flames discolor the dome considerably during each use. However, if you choose to do so, only use a vinegar and water solution, as it’s safe for that to come in contact with the cooking surface. Never use any chemicals on the oven's interior, as you don't want cleaning products to ever come in contact with your cooking surface.
Pizza oven cleaning is actually fairly simple, although it might take a bit of time at first to get used to it. Once you get into the habit of sweeping out the ashes after each or every other use, it’ll be much easier to do a deeper cleaning. As time goes on and you get better at it, your cleanings will take no time to do at all, leaving you more time to plan and try those delicious recipes.
The Ideal Addition to Any Outdoor Kitchen
If you already have a pizza oven in your backyard, you know what it’s done for the look and enjoyment of your outdoor space. If you’re thinking about owning one, you may wonder whether you’ll have to get rid of your barbecue. We say no way! After all, the barbecue is a backyard staple.
Pizza ovens from Fontana Forni USA are constructed with over 40 years of innovation and are 100% Italian-made. To learn more about how to have the benefits of style and function with Fontana Forni ovens, visit us online or call 877-842-9822.