Cooking technology has come a long way since the days of hanging a cauldron over a blazing fire. One of the latest means of heating food is induction, or electromagnetic induction to be precise. This method uses electromagnetism to create heat inside the pan itself, rather than warming it from the outside. This allows food to be cooked quicker and more safely.
The Science Behind Induction Cooking
Just like any other ceramic cooking surface, an induction stove top has designated areas where you place your pans. Within each area is a tightly wound metal coil. When the power is on, a current passes through the coil, producing a magnetic field around it. No heat will be produced until there is a pan on the cooking surface, which means you can touch it quite safely. Once you place a pan on the cooking surface, the magnetic field creates energy currents inside the pan and heats the contents. Induction is safer, cleaner and much more energy efficient than more traditional methods of cooking.
What’s Special About Induction Cookware?
The key to cooking with an induction stove is that your cookware needs to be fabricated from a magnetic material. The power of induction will create an electric current throughout the material that generates uniform heat. Cookware made from the following materials will work with an induction stovetop:
- Cast iron
- Magnetic stainless steel
- Enameled and ceramic clad pots
You will not be able to cook on an induction stove top with pans made from aluminum, copper or glass, unless they have a built-in layer of magnetic material. If you’re not sure if your cookware is suitable, simply take one of your fridge magnets and hold it against the bottom surface of your pot. If it clings, you’re good to go. Look here for the best induction cookware sets in 2017.
Benefits of Induction Cooking
Induction cooking offers a number of advantages.
Speed: Because the heating process is instant, food cooks much faster than on a traditional stovetop.
Energy efficiency: One of the first things you’ll notice when you’re cooking with induction is that it heats your pans, not your kitchen. There is no waste of energy as there is with other cooking methods. For example, induction transfers around 80-90 percent of its energy to the contents of a pot, in comparison to gas which only delivers 38 percent of its energy.
Accuracy: Because induction stoves come with pre-set temperatures, it’s very easy to control the heat factor. This allows you very accurate and responsive temperature settings.
Safety: The stove top itself never heats up, so induction stove tops allow a safer environment in the kitchen. This is particularly advantageous if you have young children running around or older kids that like to join in with preparing meals.
Convenient: An induction cooktop takes up very little space and is simple to install and easy to use. It’s a great solution if you live in a home that doesn’t have an active gas line. They are also a breeze to clean. Even if you have a spillage, simply wipe over the surface with a damp cloth.
Portability: You may be surprised to know that there is a portable induction cooktop. You can use this on any surface because the base will not get hot. You can simply plug it in and use. This is great for students or for your home kitchen if you need extra cooking space. It’s also great for camping. Once you’ve used it, simply wipe it off and store it in a cupboard, out of sight. You kitchen surfaces will be free of clutter and you can use this induction plate anywhere you have an electrical outlet.
Benefits for Commercial Kitchens
If you are running a kitchen in a restaurant or other commercial outlet, induction cooking is perfect because it will speed up your cooking time, so you can get meals out on the tables much faster. It takes just a few minutes to clean and you can’t start over again with your next meal. You will also gain 10-20 percent savings on your energy bill.
Although induction cooking is more expensive than more traditional cooking options, it is worth it in the long run, in terms of energy savings and convenience. Millions of professional chefs and home cooks have already made the transition to induction. If you do decide to try it, you’ll never go back.
Nate Lau is the founder of StoneFryingPans.com. A chef by day and a writer by night, he is passionate in all aspects of cooking and cookware. When he’s not in the kitchen, Nate is hiking up a mountain, reading on the beach and playing with his 2-year old daughter.