Pros: TWO OVENS! Easy controls; easy to clean; even heating; lots of control
Cons: Get better installation people than we did; the first ones had to be recalled; the door of the bottom oven nearly rests on the floor (only a problem with kids or pets)
Rating: 4 out of 5
First posted 12/2/2002
Exactly two weeks before Thanksgiving our stove died. It’s the stove that came with the house we bought a year and a half ago, and we’ve been waging a battle with it ever since. First we had to replace the controller because it would start beeping randomly at all times of the day and night (LOUDLY). Then we had to use one of those grill lighters to light the front burners. Then the oven started taking up to 15 minutes just to light, never mind actually heating up. Finally the oven didn’t light – and this time, it left a cloud of gas in our kitchen instead of just not emitting gas at all.
That was the final straw. I’m willing to struggle and do battle with my stove, but safety is not something I mess with.*
So, we needed a new stove.
Even though we were not at all happy with the unexpected expense, we were thrilled at the chance to get a decent stove. I’ve never had a really good stove in my entire life, and we cook a lot, so we’ve drooled over the amazing stoves every time we went into a store that had major appliances. Thus, I was more than happy to do some research on the web before we visited our local stores. I’d heard that GE was very good, but the only store closer than a 45 minute drive away was our local Maytag dealer, which was just about a half-mile away, so I was kind of hoping to find out that Maytag was good enough. And oh, did I.
By the time I was done looking through Epinions’ listings, I’d fallen in love with the Maytag Gemini – a beautiful stove with two ovens. The only problem? There didn’t seem to be a gas version. I went to the Maytag website just in case, and right there on the main page was the link to the new gas Maytag Gemini!
Delivery and installation: It was delivered a week and two days before Thanksgiving. Oh, if it billows smoke when lit and the installation guys tell you that’s normal, check that they didn’t leave the broiler pan in the oven with a plastic baggie of screws in it (grumble, grumble – they ruined the broiler pan and it took forever to get the smell of burned plastic out of the kitchen. We still get a whiff of it now and then). Oh, and the manual mentions that if you put the burner gratings on wrong you can scratch the porcelain enamel finish – after the installation people left we discovered a 4-inch scratch. ARGH! Moral of the story – get better installation people than we had.
What’s so amazing about the Gemini, anyway? TWO OVENS! Oh, did I mention? TWO OVENS! Ahem. Anyway. One full-sized (and I do mean full-sized!) oven on the bottom, and a smaller one on top. The smaller one does broiling and it has a “keep warm” setting. It has one rack (shaped so that you can pull it out by grasping the edge of the rack from the top), and you can take out the rack and put your dish on the bottom of the oven to use the “lower position” with the broiler.
The larger oven has two racks. One is normal. The other is called a “roller-glide” rack. It comes in two parts, so that the upper part just glides out on tracks. I know in other ovens I’ve always felt nervous when we pulled the rack out half-way to get to the turkey. Not with this one – it glided out easily and didn’t tip at all. Very sturdy! This rack is a little harder to move from position to position, but not much.
You can also get an optional half-rack to go in the larger oven. The idea is that if you’re cooking something that’s too large to allow you to have the second rack in, you can put the half-rack into one corner of the oven and it’ll let you cook a small side dish at the same time. And yes, we checked – we really could fit the large roasting pan with 14 lb. turkey inside from front-to-back, leaving room to install and use the half-rack.
Both ovens have bright halogen lights. Even better, both ovens have large viewing windows, making it very easy to check on the progress of your food without opening the oven. We could easily tell how well biscuits (or turkey) were browning.
These ovens heat very evenly. Never before have I had a stove where I didn’t have to rotate the biscuits half-way through the cooking time to make sure they got evenly browned. Or where the turkey didn’t come out looking like a child doodled on it with a brown marker (this time it came out very evenly browned). They also light and preheat very quickly.
Stove top: The top of the stove has four burners – two normal burners; one “power boost” higher-BTU burner for quick boiling of water; and one low-BTU “simmer burner” for delicate sauces and such. All burners are sealed; you can remove the burner caps for easy cleaning.
This is where we discovered just how bad our other stoves had been. The flames are so even! They’re so easy to control! I can simmer stock on the normal burners, without having to juggle the flame somewhere between too high and guttering out. (As long as you turn these burners down slowly, they will not go out if you turn them all the way down.) The power burner is so amazing that even when we put a 12-quart stock pot on it we can’t turn it all the way up (heck, we can’t even turn it half-way up!). With the simmer burner we can easily melt butter without boiling it. Oh, and the burners light very quickly and easily (not to mention reliably). My only gripe, in fact, is that I would rather have had the simmer burner on the front (it’s a back burner) than the power burner, because usually something that requires such low heat needs to be watched constantly, and I’m too short to easily watch a back burner. My tall husband, however, does not find this to be a problem.
The gratings are connected – each back burner is connected with its front burner, and they’re very close side-by-side. This means that you can easily slide pots from one burner to another. We were worried at first that there wouldn’t be enough room between burners. The knobs for the burners are on the right-hand side of the cook-top, on the horizontal surface, which means you don’t have a lot of empty room between the burners any more. But the gratings are large enough, separating the burners enough, that we haven’t had a problem there. The other worry was that, since our counter is on the right-hand side, we’d be spilling a lot of things on the knobs as we tried to ladle stuff from pot to tupperware. It hasn’t been that bad, though, particularly since you can pull the knobs off for cleaning. Which brings us to…
Ease of cleaning: I could tell you that the stove-top is very easy to clean. But instead, I’ll put it this way. After several full days of Thanksgiving cooking, all it took was one handi-wipe, a little water, and five minutes to clean off the top of the stove. Seriously. And that’s including the left-over cruft from the one boil-over we had.
There’s only one thing that doesn’t easily come clean. The gratings are gray, and the flames cause some black discoloration. This doesn’t particularly bother me, though; it gives the stove that lived-in look. It is a little difficult to clean grease off of the gratings, but at least they’re easy to haul over to the sink to clean. We’ve found that if you’re even the least bit careful you aren’t likely to damage your stove putting the gratings back on; we’ve never had a problem other than the damage the installation guys caused.
The controls: The controls are digital, and despite the assertion of the installation people that the controls are extremely complicated, they aren’t. Really. There’s a row of buttons (with that smooth surface so they’re easy to clean) for each oven; it’s pretty easy to figure out that the top one goes with the top oven and the bottom one goes with the bottom oven. You press “keep warm” to get the keep warm setting or “broil” or “clean” for those settings. If you press “bake” twice it’ll set the relevant oven to 350 degrees. If you press bake then a number of degrees, it’ll set the relevant oven to that many degrees. Press “cancel” to turn the oven off. Wow. How complicated. Read the manual once and you probably will never have to touch it again.
The display lights up a thingie to show you which oven is on, and there’s even a little dot to show if an oven is pre-heating. The oven bleeps to let you know you’ve reached your desired temperature – not just when it first does, but also if you change your temperature (our last oven only let us know the first time). You can adjust the volume on this alert (thank goodness; we turned it down). You can even program the ovens to start and stop automatically. As a default option, the oven will turn off after 12 hours, although you can turn this off. (This would have been such a useful function with one of my old housemates, who had a penchant for accidentally leaving the oven on all night.)
Other cool things: The ovens heat up very quickly, and they’re very well-insulated. They hardly get warm at all around the oven door. If your cats or kids touch the oven door, they won’t even notice.
If your cats are like ours, they can get hours of entertainment out of watching the window of the lower oven. When the light is on they watch the food. When it’s off they watch the “other cat” (their reflection).
You can lock the control panel for easy cleaning (or to keep kids from pressing buttons).
In case you don’t find the controls as easy as we do, the display scrolls messages across telling you what to do next.
You can change the display to display in degrees Centigrade instead of Fahrenheit, and you can change it to French or Spanish instead of English.
If you ever decide that the temperature of your oven is off (too high or too low), you can even adjust it by up to plus or minus 35 degrees. Very cool!
According to the manual, the stove comes with a full one year warranty on parts and labor. There are limited warranties beyond that on various parts, and you can buy an extended warranty from Maytag.
My one warning: Because the large oven is so low, if you open the door it practically rests on the floor. I find this a little nerve-wracking if our cats are around and the oven is hot, and I imagine it would also be nerve-wracking for parents with small children. For the cats, we solve this by always having one of us sit there to distract them should they come near, and we keep one of their favorite rattle-balls nearby to toss and send them scurrying after it.
Since the small oven is higher than normal, I feel safer using it around them than I did a normal oven, which helps to make up for this. And because the light and window are so effective we don’t have to open the lower oven as often. Just don’t leave the lower oven open and unattended while hot if you have small kids or pets. Open it, get your food in or out, and close it again quickly.
Overall: Overall we’re completely and utterly delighted with our stove! Having an extra oven made Thanksgiving cooking much easier. Having an easy-to-clean cooktop made cleaning up a breeze. The even-heating oven made our turkey evenly brown for the first time in years, and the ease of controlling the heat on the stove definitely contributed to the ease with which we turned out delicate sauces and gravies. We’ve used the ovens repeatedly at all sorts of weird temperatures, and we’ve put every burner through its paces. We’ve yet to find a single way in which this stove doesn’t perform perfectly.
If you don’t do as much cooking as we do the expense almost certainly isn’t necessary. But if, like us, you just can’t stop cooking, then the Maytag Gemini could make your life a lot easier!
Recall note added later: The stove was recalled due to a problem with the broiler. Maytag provided an 800 number to call (the advantage of sending in your registration card!), and we quickly had a technician out here to make the fix. He replaced our controller, and explained that the oven preheats before the broiler will light. Very painless. If you didn’t register your stove when you bought it, then make sure you find out whether your stove is one of the ones recalled. In theory any Gemini stoves out now should be newer ones that have had this fixed.
*Note on gas leaks: Once upon a time it was hard to find good carbon monoxide detectors, but I was determined to do so. A co-worker of mine told me they were an unnecessary expense, because CO leaks almost never happen. I told her that if they almost never happen, how come I’ve lived through two of them already? One when I was a child, and one in my second apartment – a leaky gas heater (not to mention the problem with the oven prior to this one not lighting and leaving a cloud of gas in the kitchen–thankfully we noticed). If you start feeling mysteriously ill, with headaches and low energy, but every time you leave your house you feel better, then get your house checked, and/or pick up a CO detector (they’re much easier to find now). Preferably pick up a CO detector now, as many gas leaks are much faster and deadlier than the ones I experienced. Don’t mess with gas leaks.