Induction cooktops are a great kitchen appliance because they are affordable and offer a quick and precise cooking experience. If you are planning on buying one it is helpful to understand how they differ from gas and electric stoves. This short primer will show you how to use an induction cooktop.
They are available as single or double portable burners, built-in and full size ranges (cooktop and oven). Additionally, commercial units are used by restauranteurs and caterers to prepare delicious food for their customers and clients. Their portability allows them to be placed in mobile homes, RVs, boats, cabins, dorm rooms and small apartments as well as in full sized kitchens. These well designed appliances are equipped with many safety features such as overheating protection, automatic pan detection, child locks, and low and high voltage detection. Induction cooktops offer many advantages making them a great addition to your kitchen.
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.
Getting to Know Your Induction Cooktop
It is very easy to get started with using the induction cookers. Everything comes assembled in a single pack and it can be immediately used for cooking food in your home. However, reading the owner’s manual first will save a lot of time and aggravation.
To ensure the socket meets the required standard as suggested by the manufacturer, review the voltage requirements that are stated on the box. Apart from that, you will also notice that in some cases the surface of the cooktop will have a sticker to protect it from damage during transit. Simply peel the sticker off and you can begin using your new unit with your induction compatible cookware.
When you are ready to cook, select the suitable level of heating required. Remember the induction cooktop can be used at different power levels and it is also possible to increase and decrease the temperature. After experimenting with these features, you will get the hang of it and will be able to successfully use the cooktop for regular cooking.
These units have 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 convenient feature of some induction cooktops is that they can be used in various preset modes. This is helpful 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.
One can also alter the temperature 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.
The biggest advantage of using an induction cooktop comes with the availability of the timer mode. When you have a clear idea about the average time taken for cooking your everyday food, you can easily choose the timer mode. This allows for the flexibility of setting the number of minutes required for cooking any dish. Refer to the owner’s manual to determine if your model shuts off after a specified period of time. Some units cease operating after two or three hours.
Another great amenity is the sleep mode. It 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 because it will automatically stop heating once the level is reached. This allows you to focus on other activities in the meantime and not worry about overheating your food.
The Right Cookware To Use
The cooking vessel used with your unit must be induction ready. This means the pot or pan must contain either iron or magnetic material. Examples of materials that are induction friendly 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 pan or skillet must be free of 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 will allow the use of non-induction cookware on an induction surface. Simply place the disk between the cooking vessel and the surface of the cooker.
Induction Cooking Tips
- Reasons for cooktop noise:
- 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
- If you are using a wok on your cooktop, make sure it has a flat bottom.
- Some manuals advise using a dedicated electrical outlet to avoid overheating or shutdown.
- Since the unit heats up quickly it’s best to have all your ingredients ready before turning on the unit.
- Wipe the bottom of the cookware prior to placing it on the cooktop.
- When using cast-iron or other cookware with rough-bottoms, don’t slide the vessel around the cooktop as it can cause the surface of the cooktop to be scratched.
- Since the heat is transferred to the cooking vessel, use kitchen utensils that are heat resistant.
- Let the surface of the cooktop cool down before cleaning.
- The cooling fan will run for a minute or two after the unit is switched off.
- There has been some discussion and research as to whether or not induction cooktops interfere with cardiac pacemakers.
Induction cooktops in commercial establishments
This type of appliance can be used at any place of your choosing without having to worry about supplying fuel to the stove. All you need is an electrical connection and you can cook your food. This is ideally suited for commercial establishments like offices and restaurants as it does not create a mess like regular stoves.
In addition, it generates less heat in the kitchen and which creates a more comfortable atmosphere for the people who are preparing the food. It is also very easy to clean this type of cooktop by using a damp paper towel or soft sponge to wipe the surface and dry it with a paper towel or cloth. Since the surface does not get heated like a regular stove, there is less risk of getting injured while using induction cooktops.