How Induction Cooktops Work
These innovative devices have a ceramic plate with an electromagnetic coil beneath it. When the unit is turned on, electric current flows through the coil, generating a rapidly alternating magnetic field. As soon as the induction ready cookware is set on the cooktop, a magnetic field induces many smaller electric currents in the pan’s metal thereby heating it up. The heat is then transferred to the food inside the cooking vessel.
Induction Cooker Modes and Safety Features
There are two buttons that increase and decrease the temperature, so the optimum temperature required for your cooking activity can be chosen. This is the manual method of using the cooktop and provides the flexibility to choose the temperature level of your choice. Therefore, the temperature can be increased in the initial stages of cooking and later reduced when the food is to be cooked at a slower rate. The manual mode allows the cook to experiment with the various levels and find the optimum one that is suited for a particular recipe.
Another feature of some induction cooktops is that they can be used in various preset modes. This is convenient because it can be placed in the optimum heating zone without having to worry about manually increasing and decreasing the temperature. For example, you can choose the option to heat milk and the cooktop will automatically choose the relevant temperature level for that purpose. In addition, some have preset levels for boiling water and heating oil. The temperature can be altered manually whenever required while in a preset mode. Most induction cooktops have multiple preset modes that help you to cook seamlessly and without any hassles.
An advantage of induction cooktops is the inclusion of a timer mode. When you have a clear idea about the average time taken for preparing a particular food or recipe, the timer mode can be easily set. This allows for the flexibility of setting the number of minutes required for cooking any dish. Be sure to refer to the owner’s manual to determine if your model shuts off after a specified period of time as some units cease operation after two or three hours. Another great amenity is the sleep mode. The unit will automatically go into the sleep mode once the time is reached. This is beneficial because you do not have to stay in front of the unit while it is cooking the food since it will automatically stop heating once the level is reached.
Induction cooktop units are equipped with many safety features such as overheating protection, automatic pan detection, child lock, and low and high voltage detection. The type of safety features and settings offered varies among models. The owner’s manual generally gives a detailed explanation.
Cookware to Use With Induction Cooktops
The pots and pans used with your unit must be induction ready. This means they must contain either iron or magnetic material. Examples of the type of cookware you can use with an induction cooktop are cast iron, enameled cast iron, and stainless steel (as long as the base of the pan is a magnetic grade of stainless steel). Materials that will not work with induction cookers are glass, all-copper or aluminum unless the bottom layer of the vessel has magnetic properties.
To determine if your cookware is induction friendly, place a magnet on the bottom of the it and if the magnet sticks (securely), then it will work. In addition, the pot or skillet should be free of major dings and dents so that it will be in contact with the surface of the unit.
If you do not have the right cookware and do not want to buy new pots and pans there is an alternative. An interface disk can be purchased which allows the use of non-induction cookware on an induction surface. Simply place the disk between the cooking vessel and the surface of the cooker. However, there are disadvantages to using these disks. The most obvious one is that the cooking time will be increased since heat is transmitted more slowly to the pot or pan. In addition, there is a chance that these disks will overheat. If this happens the unit will automatically shut off.
Using Your Induction Cooktop
The induction cooktop comes assembled in a single pack and can be immediately used for cooking food in your home. However, reading the owner’s manual first, will make your first cooking experience go a lot smoother. After unpacking your new cooker, inspect the ceramic/glass surface to make sure there are no scratches or cracks. Then, review the voltage requirements that are stated on the box to ensure your electrical outlet meets the required standard suggested by the manufacturer. Most manuals state these devices must be plugged into a dedicated outlet to avoid overloading the outlet and tripping the circuit breaker.
Induction Cooktop Cooking Steps
1. Place the cooker on a flat, level, non-metallic surface. Ensure the ventilation slots are not blocked (there should be a space of 3-5 inches between the cooker and other objects)
2. Plug the power cord into the electrical socket.
3. Place the ingredients in your pot or pan.
4. Determine the heating level required.
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 will be able to successfully use the cooktop for regular cooking.
5. Place the cooking vessel on top of the cooker centered on the cooking surface.
6. Turn on the cooktop by pressing and holding the OFF/ON indicator for 2-3 seconds.
7. Set the temperature/power level (refer to the user manual for assistance).
8. Set the timer.
9. When the cooking is finished take the cookware off the surface.
10. Turn the unit off.
11. After the fan has stopped running unplug the unit.
12. Wait for a few minutes before cleaning the cooktop.
Induction Cooking Tips
- Cooling fans in some models make a humming sound
- Consumers have commented that when the high-power levels are used, there is a high-pitched or buzzing sound.
- Cookware that has a thin bottom or is of low quality
Induction Cooktops in Commercial Establishments
Induction cookers are ideally suited for commercial establishments such as convenience stores, restaurants, food trucks, and office buildings. An electrical connection is all that is required to quickly cook your food at a precise temperature. This cooking method generates less heat than conventional stoves making it a more comfortable cooking environment. These cooktops are also very easy to clean. After your unit has cooled down, wipe off any cooking spills with a damp paper towel or soft sponge and followed that up by using a drop or two of glass/ceramic cooktop cleaner on a cloth to remove any food remnants. If there are hard water spots on the surface, white vinegar can be used to clean those from your cooktop. Remove the vinegar residue with a damp paper towel and wipe the surface dry with a clean cloth.
Convenience stores are using these appliances to keep food warm or to prepare fresh and customizable food. Chefs use induction cooktops to prepare freshly cooked meals as well as for preparing dishes in advance. Food carts and trucks are becoming more common as people like the mobility and low-overhead expense. Meals can be prepared quickly while the customer waits instead of heating previously cooked food in a microwave. Commercial business buildings usually have food carts, small restaurants and employee lunch rooms. These portable induction cookers are a valuable appliance in these environments as often times people only have a half-hour or an hour for lunch. Nowadays, employees often eat lunch and run errands during their break times. This allows them to eat a healthy, freshly cooked meal at a reasonable price.
Induction heat cooktops are gaining market share among the general population as consumers become more aware of its affordability, safety, efficiency, and versatility. There are many models of portable induction stoves available at affordable prices. These innovative devices have been popular in Europe and Asia for quite some time and are steadily gaining traction in the United States. This method of cooking is no longer just used by professional chefs and serious cooks, consumers are using these cooktops after reading about its advantages. Manufacturers continue to develop units as single or double portable burners, built-in units or as a full-size range with varying capabilities and features. Their portability allows them to be placed in businesses, mobile homes, RVs, boats, cabins, dorm rooms and small apartments as well as in full sized kitchens.