Induction Pros

Induction Pros

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white digital rice cooker in white background

What Can I Cook with a Rice Cooker?

It has been over 60 years since Toshiba released the first commercially successful rice cooker. After rice cookers became increasingly popular, other companies started developing and manufacturing rice cookers with varying capabilities  and multiple features.  

The term rice cooker was formerly used to describe rice-cooking utensils throughout Japanese history (and all throughout the world), however, the modern rice cooker is known as a suihanki. After it’s invention, rice cooking changed for people all over the world as it was now a lot easier to cook rice to the perfect consistency.

Despite initially using a heating mechanism to heat up the rice until it reached a certain point, rice cookers have come a long way since then and are now a lot more efficient and energy saving.

There are simple models and those that are induction rice cookers as well as induction heating pressure rice cooking and warmer units.

What Foods Can I Cook in a Rice Cooker

Contrary to popular belief, foods other than rice can be prepared in a rice cooker. Since it’s invention and increasing popularity, people have been finding different ways to successfully use it to cook other foods including oatmeal, eggs, vegetables, beans, grains and even desserts.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal can be prepared by adding water and steel cut oats to the inner cooking pan. After placing the pan in the body of the cooker, plug the unit in.  Depending upon your rice cooker, use either the "steel cut oatmeal" or the porridge setting.  After the Keep Warm setting is activated, open the lid, stir and add milk or half&half and brown sugar if desired.  Some rice cookers are equipped with a timer function that allows you to put the oats and water in the cooker the night before and it will be ready in the morning. Depending upon how you like your oatmeal to taste (soft or crunchy) then you may want to leave the rice cooker on for a longer or shorter amount of time.  

Boiled Eggs

It seems that every blogger has the right technique for making the perfect boiled egg. It was surprising to learn that it can be done using a rice cooker (the eggs are actually steamed). The two advantages are being able to cook a number a eggs at a time and ones that are easy-to-peel.

Place a cup or two of water and the eggs in the steamer tray and set it in the pot. The time needed to cook the eggs is dependent upon your unit and whether you prefer soft or hard boiled eggs.  Most units come with recipes and suggested cooking times. After reviewing several websites it seems the most common range is 10-25 minutes. 

Vegetables

If you’re looking for the perfectly cooked piece of broccoli or carrots, then boiling and steaming them in a rice cooker could completely change up your meal planning.

Beans

Here is a great description of how to cook beans in a rice cooker. The beans can be soaked before placing them in the cooker or soaked in the cooker.

Macaroni and cheese

Fixing macaroni and cheese in a rice cooker is fairly straightforward.  A simple, tasty recipe can be found here

Other foods that can be prepared in a rice cooker are: pork roast, cheesecake, chocolate cake, chili, stew and a whole host of soups.  

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stainless steel pots on four burner built-in induction cooktop

Things to Consider Before Buying an Induction Cooktop

Buying a new induction cooktop seems fairly straightforward at first. Then when you start reading about the various types, sizes, features, colors, and number of burners, it seems like you'll need to make a spreadsheet. There is plenty of information available that will explain why one cooktop is better than another. If you’re thinking about buying an induction cooktop, we have put together a list of induction types and features to assist you in making a decision.

If you aren’t already aware of what an induction cooktop is, it’s essentially a type of cooktop that doesn’t require a naked flame or gas. Inside the cooktop (under the glass/ceramic surface plate), there is a coil through which electric current flows, creating a magnetic field. This field goes through the base of the induction ready pot or pan that is on the cooktop surface.  A current is generated in the bottom of the cooking vessel and the electrical energy is changed to heat energy. This heat is then transferred from the cookware to the food.  

A certain type of cooking vessel is required when using an induction cooktop.  The base of the vessels has to either contain iron or a layer that has magnetic materials. Induction compatible cookware types are: cast iron, steel, enameled cast iron, ceramic clad and magnetic stainless steel. This is discussed in more detail in this article.

Size, power, temperature, safety and other features, and design are some of the factors to consider before buying an induction cooktop.

Things to Consider Before Buying an Induction Cooktop 2

Size

The first decision to make is whether to buy a por​​table induction cooktop, a built-in unit or a full-size induction range.

Portable cookers  have either one or two burners.  The size of single burner cooktops are around 14x11.5x2.5 inches (LxWxH).  The double burner cookers are generally 23.6 x 14.1 x 2.6. These units can easily be used on a countertop or table. Sometimes consumers buy one of these cooktops to see if they like it before purchasing a built-in cooktop or full-size oven. Others purchase one for use as an extra burner at home or to take to a social occasion or to use in their dorm room, RV, cabin or boat.  

The next step up in size is a built-in cooktop. These appliances generally have either two, four or 5 cooking zones.  They range in width from 20 to 41 inches.  

The most popular freestanding induction ranges are 30 inches wide and have four burners along with an oven and sometimes a steam rack. However, some are available that are 36 inches wide.

A single zone tabletop unit is cost-effective and  portable but won’t offer the same power or flexibility as the larger models. However, the bigger the size you opt for, the more expensive it is going to be.  It is essential to measure how much space you have in your kitchen to see if a bigger model can fit or if you should select a smaller one.  

Power

The power for the single induction cookers range from 1300 to 1800 Watts.  Most portable double cooktops have a total maximum output of 1800 Watts. The power of the burners varies according to model and the wattage given is the TOTAL for the unit. The following are three examples of how the wattage is split.

1.  One burner is 1200W (use a larger pan) and the other is 600W (use a smaller pan) on the other burner.  They can be used simultaneously. 

2. One burner can be used at 1800W or both burners can be used at the same time at 900W.

3.  Some units have 10 power levels.  Both burners can be used at 1800W; however, not simultaneously as the combined total power is 10. One burner can be used at power level 3 and the other unit will automatically adjust to level 7.

The built-in units either split the wattage between the burners or they have a fixed wattage for each burner. Generally, the wattage ranges from 1800 to 3700 per unit. Examples of the power for the burners on models with fixed wattages are: 1200, 1800, 2500, 2800, 3300, 3600, and  3700 Watts.

The number of power levels on your cooktop is another consideration.  The portable cooktops have either 10, 15, or 20 levels.

Things to Consider Before Buying an Induction Cooktop 3

Temperature 

The temperature range varies among the portable induction cooktops.   Most brands range from 100-450°F or 140-460°F. The number of temperature settings also differs according to model; having either 10, 15 or 20 settings.  The temperature increments are in 25 degree steps while others are in 15° or 20° increments.

Safety Features

The single and double burner cooktops have a variety of safety features.  However, not all of them have a lock that prevents settings from being changed. An automatic shut-off function is available on some cooktops but not others.  This is helpful for those who are concerned about their food boiling over or overcooking.  A sensor underneath the glass cooktop, senses when the pan is getting too hot and the unit will automatically cease operating. 

Although not strictly a safety feature, a timer is extremely helpful, especially for those of us who like to multitask. It can save the headache of overcooked or burnt food.

It is important that your induction cooker is ETL approved and FCC Part 18 compliant (FCC has authorized its use and marketing). ETL approval verifies the appliance is compliant with North American Safety standards.

Design

Design is an important factor to consider prior to buying your induction cooker.  It is especially critical if your kitchen already has a specific decor or color scheme. Stainless steel and black induction ranges are much more prevalent than white ones. One of the nice things about induction cookers is that they are very modern and sleek. 

Extra Features

The single induction cooktops also vary in the type of one touch features, the type of controls and the cooktop surface design.  Some cooktops have boil, simmer or keep warm settings. The control on the top-of-the-line units are touchpad as opposed to buttons or dial.

The one burner induction units have a surface that is either tablet like or has a slanted control panel.  The Max Burton 6400 and the newer 6450 model and the Duxtop 9600LS unit are examples of those with an angled interface. The benefit of this design is that it lessens the chance of the touchpad settings being changed accidentally or heat from the vessel touching the display as the pot or pan is being removed from the cooktop. 

Conclusion

If you are not sure if you want to invest in an induction cooktop, this article details the advantages and drawbacks of these units. 

The following is a checklist to use if you are considering purchasing an induction cooktop.  

  • Size and power capabilities - portable, built-in or full-size
  • Power levels - 10, 15, or 20  
  • Temperature settings - 10, 15, or 20
  • Is the temperature increment important to me?
  • Do I want a settings lock?
  • Do I want automatic shut-off?
  • Do I want a timer?
  • Is it ETL approved and FCC Part 18 compliant?
  • Portable units - tablet or slanted display panel?
  • What will fit into my decor?
  • Do I want a touchpad as opposed to buttons or a dial?
  • What is the quality of customer service of the manufacturer?
  • What is the product warranty?

Hopefully, this article gave you a better idea as to whether an induction cooktop is something that will fit both your lifestyle and cooking needs.

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iron griddles on hob

Lodge Cast Iron Square Grill Pan Review

Lodge Cast Iron Square Grill Pan:
QUICK OVERVIEW

Features

Construction

Durability

Affordability

What We Like

  • Ribbed bottom for low-fat cooking
  • Pre-Seasoned and ready-to-use

What We Don't Like

  • Prone to rusting  
  • Hard to clean

For grill lovers and home cooks alike, this cast iron square grill pan from Lodge will help you create delicious foods you and your family will love. Cast iron cooking has a long history, dating back to the 19th century, and is beloved by millions thanks to both its durability and the flavor quality it delivers.  

Lodge Cast Iron Square Grill Pan REVIEW

Lodge 10.5 Inch Square Cast Iron Grill Pan. Pre-seasoned Grill Pan with Easy Grease Draining for Grilling Bacon, Steak, and Meats.

The Lodge foundry and brand of cookware has been around since 1896. Starting with their traditional smooth round skillets, they’ve branched out to more specialized cookware, like this square grill pan. Grill pans have been around for several decades, and this tried-and-true model is a staple for any household.

Who Is This For?

Cast iron cooking is a valuable part of a cookware collection for any kind of cook, from beginners to more advanced at-home chefs. This cast iron grill pan is also ideal for camping, using on an outdoor grill, or just enjoying meals at home.  Cast iron needs to be taken care of and requires a bit more attention than stainless steel or non-stick pans.

Overview of Features

A generous 10.5” square size is the dominant feature of this Lodge 10.5 Inch Square Cast Iron Grill Pan. Pre-seasoned Grill Pan with Easy Grease Draining for Grilling Bacon, Steak, and Meats.. You can cook four burgers or chicken breasts or two large pieces of fish simultaneously, so it’s definitely family sized. You’ll notice the twelve evenly spaced raised ribs along the bottom of the pan, which are about ½” apart. They create the grill marks on your food. The pan is square, with gently rounded corners. This gives you more cooking area than a round grill pan.

The handle is nice and long and evenly balanced. It does get very hot, so you are advised to use an oven mitt or silicone holder when moving the pan. The other feature you’ll notice is the weight. Cast iron is heavy; it’s solidly made and weighs around four and one-half pounds. The iron itself is very thick along the bottom of the pan and up the sides of the grill. It heats evenly and should only be used on medium-high heat or lower. Cast iron is magnetic, so you can definitely use this with an induction cooktop.

How to Get The Most Out Of It

Cast iron will last for more than one generation if it’s kept in excellent condition and used with care. Although this Lodge Cast Iron Square Grill Pan comes pre-seasoned, to ensure its best use and help it become more non-stick, you are advised to season it before cooking for the first time.  

Alternative

Need a bit more space for grilling? When the 10.5” square grill pan won’t do, then pick up this  Lodge Pro-Grid Cast Iron Grill and Griddle Combo. Reversible 20" x 10.44" Grill/Griddle Pan with Easy-Grip Handles. With a size of 20” long and 10.44” wide, you get plenty of room to cook up an entire meal. 

Drawbacks

One pattern in the negative reviews of this grill pan was that it rusted.  Another was that it was very hard to clean around the ridges.

Conclusion

Cast iron cooks are converts for life. If this is your first foray into cast iron cooking, you’re in for a treat. But even for serious cooks the Lodge 10.5 Inch Square Cast Iron Grill Pan will be a welcome addition to your culinary collection.

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cast iron griddle with kebabs

Lodge Cast Iron Round Griddle Review

Lodge Cast Iron Round Griddle:
QUICK OVERVIEW

Features

Construction

Durability

Affordability

What We Like

  • Foundry seasoned, ready to use upon purchase
  • Use on all cooking surfaces, grills and campfires
  • Oven safe

What We Don't Like

  • Short sides

You can almost smell Sunday breakfast cooking on this handsome Lodge 10.5 Inch Cast Iron Griddle. Pre-seasoned Round Cast Iron Pan Perfect for Pancakes, Pizzas, and Quesadillas.! It was designed for making your foods smell and taste delicious; is built to last, and has the time-tested brand name of Lodge behind it. Add this griddle pan to your collection, and make it a part of your family’s cooking tradition for more than one generation to come.

Lodge Cast Iron Round Griddle REVIEW

Lodge 10.5 Inch Cast Iron Griddle. Pre-seasoned Round Cast Iron Pan Perfect for Pancakes, Pizzas, and Quesadillas.

Founded in 1896, the Lodge cast iron foundry has been creating exceptional cookware for well over a century. Besides their basic 10” and 12” skillets, this 10.5” griddle is a pan they’ve offered for several decades. Basically, it gives you all the benefits of a skillet, but with much lower sides to make it easier for flipping foods or cooking flatter foods like crepes, omelets, and eggs.

Who Is This For?

Cooking with cast iron is a satisfying experience for any home cook who uses this time-tested and still popular cookware. A griddle pan is best for those who need a large, flat surface area for cooking that isn’t as large as a pizza pan, but isn’t as small as a one-egg skillet.

This griddle has such a nice surface for cooking, so it’s excellent for families who like to cook up big batches of pancakes, eggs, tortillas, or toasted sandwiches. This wouldn’t be a good cast iron pan for those in small spaces, when a regular skillet would be able to do the job just fine.

Cast iron can be used on all types of induction hobs as well as on electric and gas cooktops.

Overview of Features

You get a generous amount of cooking area with this Lodge 10.5 Inch Cast Iron Griddle. Pre-seasoned Round Cast Iron Pan Perfect for Pancakes, Pizzas, and Quesadillas.. It’s enough to cook up pancakes, eggs, bake small pizzas, toast sandwiches, and warm up tortillas. This pan is made of solid cast iron, including the handle, which is its stand-out feature. A flat griddle surface evenly distributes heat throughout the entire pan and up the very short side walls. It’s 0.5” deep, so perfect for foods that need to be flipped. Since the handle is also cast iron, it gets very hot so you'll need to use an oven mitt or handle holder.

Cast iron is magnetic and is great for induction cooking. You can use it on top of either an electric or gas stove, in the oven, or at the campfire, too. While this pan is heavy, at 4.5 pounds, it’s lighter than a traditional skillet of the same size since the sides are shorter.

How to Get The Most Out Of It

Cast iron will last for more than one generation if it’s kept in excellent condition and used with care. Although this Lodge Cast Iron Round Griddle comes pre-seasoned, to ensure its best use and help it become more non-stick, you are advised to season it before cooking for the first time. 

Alternative

Need higher sides for deeper frying and more versatility? The basic but essential Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet with Hot Handle Holder - 10.25” Cast Iron Frying Pan with Silicone Hot Handle Holder (BLACK). is a must have for your kitchen. It gives you the same century-long high quality as the griddle pan, but with higher sides to prevent splatters and keep foods from spilling over.

Conclusion

The more you use your Lodge Cast Iron Griddle the more it will give back to you. Your foods will taste better, and your cooking repertoire will expand. These durable and long-lasting cast iron pans easily fry eggs, make crepes or omelets, or gently brown tortillas for Taco Tuesday. You’ll love using them in brand new ways, too!

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cast iron fry pan with fork

Lodge Cast Iron Reversible Grill Griddle Review

Lodge Cast Iron Reversible Grill Griddle:
QUICK OVERVIEW

Features

Construction

Durability

Affordability

What We Like

  • Reversible Cast Iron
  • Fits over two stovetop burners
  • Easy care: Hand wash, dry, rub with cooking oil

What We Don't Like

  • Not recommended for some glass top stoves

Passionate home cooks and food lovers enjoy cooking in cast iron because it’s durable, heats evenly, and provides that delicious flavor. When you cook with this Lodge Pro-Grid Cast Iron Grill and Griddle Combo. Reversible 20" x 10.44" Grill/Griddle Pan with Easy-Grip Handles, you have enough space to feed a crowd. It’s a great addition to the time-tested Lodge line of cast iron cookware.

Lodge Cast Iron Reversible Grill Griddle REVIEW

Lodge LPGI3 Pro-Grid Cast Iron Reversible 20' x 10' Grill/Griddle Pan with Easy-Grip Handles 10' x 20'

Back in 1896, when the Lodge cast iron foundry began, they focused on one product line: cast iron cookware. This long and reversible grill/griddle pan is very similar to some antiques that are over 100 years old! Those were used on wood stoves to either grill or cook large cowboy-style breakfasts. Now you, too, can feed a crowd by using this modern version.

Who Is This For?

For entertaining or to make enough food for feeding your family, the Lodge Cast Iron Reversible Grill/Griddle is the ideal cookware. It covers two stovetop burners, so it’s best for larger kitchens and grill lovers. This grill/griddle would be ideal for indoor sports fans or to take to tailgating parties. It brings all the fun of grilling right into your own kitchen. 

Overview of Features

This Lodge Pro-Grid Cast Iron Grill and Griddle Combo. Reversible 20" x 10.44" Grill/Griddle Pan with Easy-Grip Handles is a single pan with double handles.  While this pan comes pre-seasoned by the manufacturer, you are advised to do your own seasoning.

The first thing you’ll notice about this cast iron pan is its substantial size! It measures 20” long and 10.44” wide, which provides over 200 square inches of cooking space on each side. There’s a flat, smooth griddle pan on one side with very short sides, and a completely ribbed grill side on the other. It has 23 grill marks for grilling multiple steaks, chicken, vegetables, and fish.

This is a heavy, durable piece of cookware, built to last more than one generation. It weighs 16 pounds. Cast iron is magnetic, so you can use this with induction cooktops. It’s good for electric and gas stoves, and don’t forget to take it out to the grill or to the campsite, too. This fits over two stovetop burners, but is not recommended for some glass top stoves. Check with the manufacturer before purchase if you’re unsure.

How to Get The Most Out Of It

Cast iron will last for more than one generation if it’s kept in excellent condition and used with care. Although this Lodge Cast Iron Reversible Grill Griddle comes pre-seasoned, to ensure its best use and help it become more non-stick, you are advised to season it before cooking for the first time.  

Alternative

Need a grill but in a smaller size or one that is not so heavy? Check out this smaller square grill with a helper handle. It has twelve raised grill ribs, squared-off corners, and deep sides. You still get plenty of grilling area, but in a smaller pan that’s better for either smaller kitchens or for someone who wants a grill that isn't so heavy. Another option is a round griddle that we reviewed. 

Conclusion

With over 400 square inches of cooking space, there’s not much you can’t cook on this large and substantial Lodge Cast Iron Reversible Grill/Griddle Pan. Since you can enjoy using this cast iron pan for many years to come, it’s worth it to properly care for your cookware, as it will reward you each and every time you use it.

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Is Induction Cooking Better than Electric

Is Induction Cooking Better than Electric?

Induction cooking has been widely used to prepare food in Europe and Asia for decades. However, the concept never garnered much interest in the United States until a few years ago.  Now consumers are curious enough to research this type of heat source for cooking. Once they understand how they work and their benefits, savvy consumers want to know if it is smart to use an induction cooktop instead of a gas or electric stove.  In a previous article, we compared induction and gas cooking. Here we discuss the advantages of both induction and electric cookers.

Is Induction Cooking Better than Electric 2

What is an Induction Cooker?

An induction cooktop heats cookware in a different manner than electric or gas stoves.  These cookers produce an electromagnetic field underneath the glass/ceramic cooktop surface that transfers electric currents to the induction compatible cookware which then heats up.   

The surface of an induction cooker gets hot when an induction compatible pan is placed on it.  Part of the cooktop does get hot because heat transfers from the pot or pan to the glass.  However, when the pan is removed, it cools faster than any other conventional burner.

There are three categories of induction cooking appliances: 1) portable, 2) built-in units and 3) full-size induction ranges.

There is a large selection of single or double burner portable cookers available. Some manufacturers devote time and money to the research and development of induction cooktops. They continuously improve their existing product line by offering upgraded models. 

The portable cooktops usually either a tablet-like surface or a flat surface with a slanted display. The advantage of an angled interface is twofold: 1) lessens the chance of settings being changed and 2) liquid/food won't be as likely to spill over onto the display panel. The features to consider are: safety functions, child lock, temperature and power ranges, settings and increments, timer and one-touch settings, and whether the unit is ETL approved and FCC Part 18 compliant.

Built-in induction cooktops have between 2 and 5 burners. The size of the burners vary according to model. Full-size freestanding ranges are generally either 30" or 36" and either have a single or double oven. 

Prior to investing in a full-size induction stove or range, some consumers purchase a portable induction cooktop to use for awhile.  After seeing the benefits it provides, they made decide to use it as an extra burner or food warmer in addition to their gas or electric stove. Others choose to use a portable unit as their sole cooking appliance or elect to purchase a built-in cooktop or a full size induction oven.

Is Induction Cooking Better than Electric3

Advantages of an Induction Cooker

  • There is no wasted heat when using an induction cooker as the energy is directly supplied to the cooking vessel and transferred to the pan or pot. 
  • The stovetop often stays cool, which is helpful when it comes to preventing dangerous accidents from happening in your kitchen. The surface will only heat up when a  pan or pot is placed on it.
  • The power and temperature settings can be controlled more accurately and responds quickly to temperature changes.
  • Food can be heated and cooked quickly.
  • They are very easy to clean.
  • Portable cooktops are versatile in that they can be taken to social or catering events or used in an RV, boat or cabin. They are also convenient for those who do not have access to or the floor space for a full-size stove.

Advantages of an Electric Cooker

  • Electric stoves are less expensive than full-size induction stoves.
  • Any pot or pan can be used. However, a lot of cookware now is induction ready. If a magnet securely sticks to the bottom of the cooking vessel it can be used on an induction cooktop.  Many people can use some of the cookware pieces they have on hand.  Cast iron pots and pans are induction compatible.
  • Consumers have commented that electric stoves are more powerful than induction stoves.
  • Electric stoves don't make the humming or buzzing sound induction cooktops tend to make when cooking at higher settings.
  • Digital and analog thermometers can both be used. The magnetic field may interfere with the readings on a digital thermometer.
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stainless steel pot and cast iron pan on built-in gas stove

Induction vs Gas Cooking (Is one really better?)

As the debate between induction cooking versus gas continues, we put together a short guide looking at the pros and cons of both.

We know that the way people cook is a personal preference and sometimes they are not keen on changing methods.  However,  as time goes on and technology advancements are made, interesting options become available. Induction cooking is a different heating method than gas, and that’s why it’s important to know all the facts before you decide whether to try it or not.

What is Induction Cooking?

Induction cooking has been widely used in Europe and Asia for decades. However, for whatever reason, this cooking appliance hasn't been very popular in the United States until recently.

Companies such as Max Burton and Secura are spending development dollars to improve upon first and second generation induction cooktops. Other companies are copying the technology from the more successful brands and manufacturing budget induction cooktops.

Design

The two main parts to portable induction burners are: 1) glass/ceramic surface and housing and 2) the user interface, associated electronics (power supply, printed circuit board, components etc.),  micro-controller, sensors, and induction coil.

surface of one and two heating zone black induction cookers with touch controls


How Induction Works

Induction burners heat a pot or pan using magnetic induction instead of an electrical heating element (like electrical cooking), or a flame (like gas cooking).

Underneath the surface of the ceramic/glass plate is a coil of copper wire through which electric current can pass.  When this happens, a magnetic field is produced. 

As soon as an induction suitable vessel is placed on the burner, this magnetic field generates electric currents in the pot or pan. The heat is transferred to the ingredients in the vessel. This is beneficial since less heat is wasted.

What is Gas Cooking?

One of the oldest methods of cooking is cooking on a gas stove. Although butane, propane, or petroleum gas can be used, most gas stoves run on natural gas.

Before the advent of gas, a lot of very old gas stoves used fuel from wood or coal, but more modern gas stoves just use flammable gases. 

Gas ranges vary in terms of size, features and price. When calculating the total cost of a gas stove, consider the any additional expenses such as installation fees and materials.

The better the energy rating of the oven, the lower your fuel cost. Fuel prices change according to the market of supply and demand.

cooking sukiyaki in home using induction hob for a party


Pros and Cons of Induction Cooking

Since there are both pros and cons of induction cooking we think it’s important you know all the potential outcomes of buying an induction cooker. Everything to do with your household cooking is personal preference so you will want to have a general idea of the advantages and drawbacks of induction cooking before you make your final judgment.

  • Induction cookers heat up very quickly and despite what people may think, they can get really hot. 
  • A wide range of temperature and power settings are available.
  • They’re aesthetically pleasing to the eye and will match up with modern kitchens.  
  • Induction cookers are very easy to clean; you simply just have to wait until they’re relatively cool then you can use a sponge or rag and wipe over it.  

However …

  • The full-size units are expensive to buy initially which often puts a lot of people off buying them. However, the portable units are reasonably priced.
  • Not all pans and pots are compatible with it.  Cast iron, enamel cast iron, steel and magnetized stainless steel are induction ready. This article discusses induction ready cookware.
Pot on gas stove

Pros and Cons of Gas Cooking

Even though gas cooking is an older method compared to induction cooking, it too has its pros and cons and that’s what we’re going to list below. This will help to give you a more balanced view of both the types of cookers you can buy.

  • Chefs enjoy gas cookers because of the accuracy the flame provides and the ability to adjust it visually.  
  • Heat is immediate to any gas cooker, so if you’re in a rush or you need instant heat then it’s definitely a contender.
  • You can use any type of cookware on it, as long as the cookware doesn’t state that it’s not compatible – but there are very few pieces you can’t typically use on a gas cooker.
  • You can turn the temperate up or down using the knobs on the side or front of the gas cooker; this allows you to have control over the temperature and how hot or cold the pan is.
  • Gas cookers aren’t the safest option; there is a naked flame which can be dangerous, especially around young children. There is also the possibility of having an accident with a tea towel burning or even burning yourself by accident.
  • They aren’t easy to clean because there are a lot of components to clean around, and taking it apart after every time you cook can be annoying, especially if you’re in a rush. There are the plates which get dirty, as well as the inside of the rings to think about; if you don’t ensure it is always clean, it can lead to more danger.

Which One is Better?

This is a difficult question as it is mostly down to personal preference. One is not necessary "better" than the other. If you’re concerned about the safety of your kitchen and you want a more modern kitchen-friendly cooker top, then you will want to consider an induction cooker. If you don't cook that much and don't have a lot of floor space, then a portable cooktop is an option.

However, if a naked flame is better for your cooking style, you like being able to control the temperature visually, and you want to use all types of cookware then a gas oven is probably a better fit for you. 

For those cooks who are not fans of gas stoves, this quick read discusses electric stoves versus induction cooktops.

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stainless steel pots on built-in induction cooktop

Induction Cookware Buyer’s Guide

There are many advantages to having an induction cooker, but one unfortunate drawback is that you can only use certain cookware with the cooker. Although it may seem annoying at first, if you know what is ideal and what to avoid in terms of pots and pans, then you won’t have a problem.

We’ve put together this short guide on all you need to know about induction cookware. If you’ve done your research and you know what to look for and what to stay away from, then shopping for induction cookware is easy.

How Does Induction Technology Work?

Induction cookers rely on magnetic energy that is transferred by an electric current. The magnetic energy connects to your induction compatible pan when it is placed on the induction cooker and turns the pan into a heat source.

Many people find themselves asking whether you need a specific type of pan in order for the induction cooker to work. In short, yes you do but that doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy yourself a whole new set of pots and pans. You may be surprised at the number of pots and pans in your kitchen that are actually compatible with your induction cooker.

Induction Cookware Buyer’s Guide 2

What Pans Work Best on an Induction Cooker?

Materials

The type of cookware that works with an induction cooker is made from ferrous metals such as cast iron or magnetized stainless steel.

Design

You also must ensure that any pan you use on your induction cooker has a flat bottom as those which are uneven can make a lot of noise through vibrations and do not work very well.

It is also essential that the handles on your pots and pans are securely fastened as they can also vibrate when the induction cooker is on high heat.  Sturdy handles also ensure a safe cooking process.

Can I Use Cast Iron on Induction Cooktop?

Although cast iron can be a bit heavy, it is just fine for induction cooking. Some people are concerned that their cast iron skillet might scratch the surface of the cooktop.  However, with careful handling and keeping the bottom of the skillet smooth you can keep the surface of your induction burner smooth and pristine. 

Why Buy Quality Cookware?

While you may have to pay a bit more for quality induction cookware, it is worth it in the long run for two reasons.  

First, almost all induction cookware can also be used on gas and electric stoves. Second, pots and pans that are well-constructed will last longer than ones that are poorly manufactured with cheap materials. We recommend sticking to a good brand you know will last and in the long run will be worth the investment. 

Shopping for induction cookware online is easy and many people prefer this over actually going to a store. You can simply put a filter on your search to look for pots or pans that are induction cooker ready.

However, if you prefer seeing the cookware in a brick and mortar store, you can check the products out in person and then go online to see if you can get the item at a lower price.   

If you prefer to see and hold the pot or pan prior then just test the product with a magnet to make sure it is induction friendly. If the magnet sticks strongly to the bottom of the pan, then it can be used on an induction cooktop. 

Some people shop for cookware at thrift stores or yard sales, especially vintage cast iron skillets. If this is the case, be sure to test the pot or pan with a magnet to make sure it is induction ready. 

What Pans Should Be Avoided?

The base of the cookware has to be made with a layer of magnetic material. If you have glass, copper and aluminum pans, check the bottom with a magnet. If it doesn't securely stick, then the pan will not work on your induction cooker. Even some stainless steel pans don't have this magnetized base.

However, with the increased popularity of induction cooking, manufacturers are adding this layer to the pan base of many stainless steel, copper, and aluminum pots and pans. This increases the versatility of the cooking vessel, since it can be used on induction and conventional cooktops.

Induction Cookware Buyer’s Guide 3

How to Check If Your Pans are Compatible

We have already covered an easy and efficient way in which you can check if your pan or pot is compatible with your induction cooker and that’s testing the pan with a magnet. However, there are a couple of other ways you can check your cookware. One of them is to read the instruction manual either online or in-store before buying your pan set. It will state whether it is induction compatible. 

Another way to check your pans for induction compatibility is to fill them up with a little bit of water, place each one on the cooker one at a time, if the water heats then it’s compatible.

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How to Use an Induction Cooker for Cooking

How to Choose the Right Induction Cooktop

Cooking with induction is safe, easy, and energy efficient making it one of the best ways to cook in our modern times. It has been popular in Europe and Asia for decades and is gaining market share in the US.  

Induction cookers aren’t for everybody and we understand that. The only way you'll know is if you gather information about them. Conducting research on any potential purchase lessens the possibility of ordering an item you don't want and then having to go through the hassle of returning it.

Since this is not a common method of cooking, we have created a step-by-step guide on purchasing and using an induction cooker for cooking. 

How They Work

Understanding how induction cooking works is important because you may decide this type of cooking method either doesn't appeal to you or won't suit your cooking needs.  If either of those are the case, then you won't have spent a lot of time researching this topic.

While conventional stoves use gas flames or electric heating elements, induction cookers have a different heating method. Under the ceramic/glass plate of the cooktop is an electromagnetic coil.  When the unit is turned on, electric current flows through this coil and a magnetic field is produced. If the proper cookware (induction ready) is put on the surface of the unit, the magnetic field generates electric currents in the cooking vessel's metal. The heat is then transferred to the food. The photo below is a picture of a coil inside an induction cooktop.

coil inside induction cooktop

Next, you'll want to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks to these units. Whether you purchase a portable, built-in or full-size unit, they are easy to clean and can be used in many cooking environments in addition to your home kitchen. Food is heated quickly and accurately with minimal heat loss. The drawbacks are that there is a learning curve to using these appliances and only certain types of cookware can be used on them.

Pros and Cons of Induction Hobs

Advantages

  • Time saver - fast heat up times
  • Efficient - heats the cookware not the whole surface 
  • Most units automatically switch off when the pan is taken off the cooktop
  • No flame or hot coils
  • Easily cleaned - food won't get baked on the surface
  • Most designs blend in with any decor
  • Can be used in many cooking environments - dorms, RVs, cabin, campers
  • Versatile - can be used as main cooking appliance or as an extra burner

Disadvantages

  • Full size induction stoves are more expensive than gas or electric units
  •  Only cookware that has a ferromagnetic base can be used.  Carbon steel, magnetized stainless steel, enameled cast iron and cast iron cookware works with induction cooktops.

Types of Induction Cooking Units

If you decide induction cooking is something you would like to further investigate, research the various types of units available. Portable cookers have either one or two burners while built-in ones have between two and five burners. Full-size, freestanding induction ranges have a cooktop and either one or two ovens and are generally 30 or 36 inches wide. Each of these categories has different capabilities and features.  

When considering the type of unit, be sure to take note of the size of the burners. Also, if you decide to purchase a built-in unit, verify the dimensions of the cooker and the space available to drop the unit into as well as the electrical requirements.

The type of controls is important to some consumers. Some units have touch controls instead of control knobs.

Some people buy a one burner induction cooker (photo below)  to see if they like it before buying a built-in unit or full-size range.   

induction cooktop with settings


Features

After you have determined the type of cooktop/oven you want to purchase, consider whether or not the unit has these features when narrowing your choices.

  • Number and size of cooking zones
  • Temperature settings - range, how many, increments
  • Power levels - range, how many, increments
  • One-touch settings (boil, simmer, keep warm)
  • Child lock - prevents settings from being changed
  • Is the unit easy to operate? 
  • Is LED easily read?
  • Timer - maximum number of hours
  • Overheat protection
  • Auto pan detection - senses if a pan is not on the cooktop 
  • Senses if pan is not induction compatible
  • Low/high voltage warning
  • Is the unit ETL approved?
  • Is the unit FCC Part 18 compliant?

Ensure All Your Cookware is Compatible

Now that you have determined which cooktop to purchase, you'll want to factor in the cost of cookware you might have to purchase. Since only certain types of cookware work on an induction cooker, you'll want to make sure you have compatible cookware in your kitchen. Cast iron, enamel cast iron, steel, and stainless steel pots and pans with a magnetized base are induction ready. Some induction cookware has a stamp on the base of the pan stating it is induction suitable. This articles discusses types and features of stainless steel and induction cookware in general.

The first thing to do is to make a list of all the cooking vessels and sizes you want to use with your induction cooktop.  Next, determine if your pots and pans are induction ready by placing a magnet (a refrigerator magnet is fine) on the bottom of the cooking vessel. If it strongly sticks to the base, it can be used on an induction cooktop. Then, compare the list of what you have and what cookware you need to purchase.

It is possible to just start out with a skillet and a saucepan and as your budget permits add items such as a sauté pan, stockpot, or dutch oven.

Another option is to purchase an induction ready cookware set. It isn't always necessary to buy a 17-piece set as often times a 10-piece set has all the pots and pans you'll use on a regular basis.

8-inch anolon nouvelle hard anodized nonstick fry pan stamp

Induction Cooking Process

If it’s your first time using  an induction hob then we suggest first boiling some water on it. This ensures everything works properly and also gives you a  feel for how your unit operates. 

Although reading the instruction (user) manual can be a little boring, your first experience with your new induction cooktop will go a lot smoother if you at least skim the documentation.

The induction cooktop will only start to heat up when an induction compatible pan is on the surface of the cooker.

The induction cooker should be placed on a flat, non-metallic surface and in a position so as not to block the ventilation slots. After plugging the power cord in the socket, place your ingredients in the cooking vessel.  Then decide what temperature or power level you will be using (these can be adjusted). User manuals generally have a table that equates power levels and temperatures.

Place the pot in the center of the cooking surface and turn the unit on (hold the button/touch pad for 2-3 seconds). Then set the temperature/power level and timer (optional).

Remember, the induction cooktop can be used at different power levels and the temperature settings can be increased and decreased. After experimenting with these features, you will get the hang of it and can easily use the cooktop.  

After the meal is finished cooking, take the vessel off the burner, turn the unit off, and unplug it after the fan stops running. Then you can clean your cooktop.

How to Use an Induction Cooker for Cooking 3

Clean Everything Up

Once you’ve successfully cooked your meal, it's time to clean your induction cooker. As soon as you’ve removed the pan and waited a few minutes, the surface should be cool. For routine cleaning, wipe the surface with a moist paper towel, cloth or soft sponge. Then wipe the cooktop dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.

In contrast to gas or electric cooktops, if you have spilled anything on the cooker while you’ve been cooking, it is a lot easier to clean since it won't be baked on the burner. 

We created a process for cleaning and maintaining your induction cooktop including what materials to use and which ones not to use.

Conclusion

There is a lot to think about when it comes to cooking, especially if you’re using a new induction cooker.  You'll likely get a better outcome if you read the instructions that come with the cooker and examine the unit before you use it. Give yourself some time to experiment with recipes using different temperature and power levels.  Some people prefer to use the power levels only. 

The internet is a great place to find out everything you need to know about a particular make or style. A lot of people read consumer reviews.  I scour them on several different websites to look for tidbits of information and also study them to see if there are any patterns in the comments.  For example, when shopping for cookware, if a lot of people think a pan is too heavy, then I take that into consideration prior to making my purchase. 

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cast iron griddle pan on black background with vegetables

Guide to Cast Iron Cookware [Make it last a lifetime!]

There are many benefits to cooking with a cast iron skillet or pan. They’re practical, easy to clean and a lot less destructible than normal pans. When seasoned properly, they are non-stick, and don't have chemicals such as PFTE or PFOA.

Since cast iron is a mix of iron and carbon, it can be used on  induction cooktops, as well as on electric and gas stoves.

However, there is a lot to learn when it comes to cooking with cast iron. That’s why we have put together this short guide on everything you need to know about cooking with cast iron.

Why Should I Cook with Cast Iron?

The best thing about cooking with a cast iron is that it retains heat really well, so if you’re cooking something like a baked egg dish where the egg finishes cooking outside of the oven, it is ideal. Cast iron pans can also be used to make pan pizza, sear meat, fry eggs, and sauté vegetables.

The cast iron skillet or pan can be moved from the stovetop straight into the oven without having to worry about ruining it.

If you are concerned about the effects of coatings with chemicals such as PFTE, then cast iron is a good alternative for some recipes.  

What's Great About Cast Iron

  •  If it is well-seasoned then less oil will be needed to prepare your food.  
  • The surface isn’t chemical either (no PFOA or PFTE) which means you’re not putting any potentially harmful substances in your body just because of the pan.
  • They stay hot for a while so it’s ideal if you’re cooking something for a long time.
  • They can be used on top of the stove, in the oven or over a campfire.
  • They put iron into your food which is particularly useful for people with an iron deficiency. Some foods absorb more iron than others. This depends on the cooking time, the amount of the food was stirred and how many times the food was turned.

Drawbacks to Cast Iron

  • Heavy to lift
  • Seasoning is required 
cast iron frying pan with eggs in tomato, onion, garlic, pepper and green parsley sauce.

How to Cook with Cast Iron

Cooking with a cast iron is similar to frying, however, the pan can go in the oven afterward. You can cook sauces in a cast iron skillet or pan then add your other ingredients such as meat or cheese and stick it in the oven to cook furthermore. 

You can also serve your dishes on the cast iron (but be aware as the food item will keep cooking and the pan will remain hot for a while. This is a neat idea for restaurants if they want to serve their steaks or other meats on a hot plate, they can use a cast iron skillet, pan, or piece of cookware.

What Not to Cook in Cast Iron Cookware

We recommend you stay away from cooking certain foods in cast iron skillets as it can not only ruin the way the food tastes (it will have a metallic taste), but it can often ruin the lining of the pan and cause the cookware to rust. These food items include acidic foods (tomato sauces or lemon-based ingredients), sticky foods (anything with a glaze on, as this, can cause the seasoning of the pan to get damaged), and delicate fish (as it can often overcook the fish and ruin the food for your meal). 

Some people have a cast iron skillet that is only used for preparing desserts.  Their theory is that if a skillet is used to cook spicy foods and then used to prepare an apple pie for example, the residual flavors from the spicy food can transfer to the apple pie. 

a new, clean and empty cast-iron pan for the grill.

How to Care for Cast Iron Cookware

There are a lot of myths that claim it is difficult to clean and season cast iron cookware. However, it isn’t that hard to take care of, and the more you take the necessary steps to keep it in good condition, the longer it will last.  

There is a lot of discussion about seasoning cast iron cookware. Seasoning just refers to the layer of polymerized oil that has bonded with the cast iron cooking surface. The purpose is to have a slick surface so that food does not stick. It is a lot easier to cook with cast iron if the seasoning is protected.  

We have outlined the process for cleaning cast iron purchased new or at an estate sale is different from routine cleaning.

Cleaning Newly Acquired Cast Iron

1. Line your sink with a towel so it doesn't get scratched.

2. Using a Brillo pad with soap or soap, water and a stiff bristle brush, scrub the inside, outside, and handle of pan. 

3. Rinse with hot water.

4. Coat the inside and outside with a solid shortening.

5. Place upside down in oven on a foil lined cookie sheet or place foil on the lower rack and the pan upside down on the upper rack.

6. Heat at 350ºC for one hour.

7. Turn oven off.  Take out when the oven has cooled.

Routine Cleaning Cast Iron

1. Scrub with a nylon bristle scrub brush.

2. Rinse with hot water. Dry with a towel or paper towel.

3. If there is food stuck on the pan follow these steps:

a. Sprinkle coarse kosher salt into the pan.

b.Rub the salt into the stuck on food into the pan with paper towels.  

c. Add more salt as needed.

d. Empty the salt and food out and wipe remnants away with paper towel.

4. Heat on low heat until dry (5-10 minutes) to remove remaining moisture.

5. Wipe pan when cool to remove remaining grease.

6. Store. Don't store pans with lid on them. The moisture in the air could become trapped resulting in rust.

Seasoning Cast Iron

If you purchase a new or used bare cast iron vessel the first thing to do is to wash it and then season it. The purpose of seasoning is to get a non-stick coating on the pan's cooking surface that is natural. Lodge uses soy vegetable oil to season their cast iron products. Shortening or canola oil are also acceptable seasoning products. The following is the seasoning process recommended by Lodge.[2]

1. Rub a small amount of cooking fat/oil into the pan. The purpose of this is to create a layer of fat that is bonded to the iron.

2. Place a piece of aluminum foil on the bottom rack of the oven.

3. Place the cast iron skillet face down on the upper oven rack.

4. Heat at 350ºC for one hour.

5. Turn off oven. Take out when oven is cooled.

Repeat the process again another 2 or 3 times.  

[1] http://www.engineershandbook.com/Materials/castiron.htm

[2] http://www.lodgemfg.com/use-and-care/cast-iron-lets-cook

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