Advice and learnings

What exactly is induction cooking?

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Induction cooking is not exactly a new concept. It’s been around for over a decade, but some of us diehard gas-cooktop traditionalists have long ignored it’s existence. “You can only use expensive induction cookware? Ridiculous! It’s just a fad,” we said. We knew anyone who was serious about cooking, or pretended they were, used gas. A gas cooktop, (usually an impressive six hobs with a wok hob) was a pre-requisite in any entertainer’s kitchen. We knew all the famous chefs used gas. Poor you if you only had an electric cooktop. So 80s.

Well it turns out this technology has its merits and has done the long haul in kitchens worldwide to prove just as popular as gas. Many of those famous chefs we know and love have now made the transition to induction cooking. So, fellow gas-loyalists, it’s about time we learn what all the fuss is about.

How does it work?

The process is very science-y, involving things like copper, coils, magnetic flux, ferromagnetic metal and something called eddy currents. But basically, induction cooktops are powered by an electromagnetic field that turns your saucepan into the heating element (instead of thermal conduction from a flame or electrical heating element). It adjusts temperature quickly (as quickly as gas apparently) and has a more even spread of heat. This saves energy and produces quicker results.

Is it safe?

Induction cooktops are actually much safer than conventional cooktops because the surface does not heat up – heat is being produced exclusively within the pan. There is no flame and no knobs to adjust. Once you’ve taken the pan off the cooktop, it cools much faster as any heat left on the cooktop is purely from contact with the hot pan (ie. minimal residual heat).

Should you forget to turn off the stovetop, heat will only be produced when a pot is placed on the cooking area; there won’t be any heat produced to accidentally burn anyone. Many quality-brand induction cooktops include a number of safety features such as automatically switching off if no pan is in place when it is switched on, residual heat indicators, and child-safety locks.

Note however, there are specific warnings for people with pacemakers.

What are the pros and cons?

(sourced from Choice Magazine, Australia)

Pros

  • Induction cooktops heat up extraordinarily fast, conveying energy to the cookware faster than any other method of cooking.
  • When you change the temperature, this change is reflected immediately (like with gas), not gradually (as with a radiant ceramic element).
  • It’s a safer option – since the element itself doesn’t get hot, it’s safe to touch unless you’ve had a hot pan on it for a while.
  • Most have automatic switches that detect when there’s nothing on the element, meaning less energy is wasted from leaving them on.
  • Their flat surface makes induction cooktops a breeze to clean. In addition, because the cooktop surface itself doesn’t get hot, spills onto the surface are less likely to burn onto the surface.

Cons

  • You need to make sure your cookware is suitable for induction cooking and may need to replace your pots and pans if they’re not suitable.
  • You may notice some noise when cooking with induction – a whirring sound could be the fans working to disperse the heat or a clicking sound could be an indication that your cookware isn’t working well with the cooktop.
  • More work may be required when it comes to installation.

Pots, pans, and your credit card

Contrary to the old anti-induction-cooking rumours, you may not have to buy an entirely new set of saucepans. Induction hobs will only work with pots and pans made of a magnetic-based material, such as cast iron or magnetic stainless steel. Do the magnet test – if a kitchen magnet sticks, it’s induction capable. Take that kitchen magnet with you when you go pan shopping!

Many manufacturers are now producing affordable pans which are suitable for use on induction cooktops. Look out for the induction symbol when buying new cookware.

Deb has invested in Miele kitchen appliances throughout her new kitchen. Check out the benefits of Miele’s Induction Cooktops here.

 

Related posts:

Cooktops: Gas or Induction?

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