Induction cooking is an innovative technology that has been utilized for many years in Europe and Asia and its use is now gaining ground in countries like the United States. Safety, efficiency, convenience, affordability, and the ability to prepare food quickly are some of the reasons why people are choosing to use induction cooktops.
How Induction Cooktops Work
When people read or hear about this method of preparing food they ask how an induction cooktop works. An induction cooker is designed differently than conventional ovens that utilize gas flames or electric heating elements. There is an electromagnetic coil under the ceramic/glass surface (plate). When the unit is switched on, electric current flows through the coil producing a magnetic field. As soon as induction compatible cookware is placed on the burner, this magnetic field generates electric currents in the pot or pan’s metal. The vessel then acts as a heat source and transfers the heat to the food.
What Type of Cookware Works with Induction Cooktops
These units require the use of induction ready cookware. To be able to prepare food on this type of appliance, the cooking vessel has to contain ferromagnetic materials (iron or a layer that has magnetic properties). To determine if your pot or pan is compatible, hold a magnet to the bottom of it and if it strongly clings then it will work. It is also important to use cookware that is the right size for your cooktop and that the bottom be flat and smooth.
Some individuals choose to buy new cookware when they purchase an induction cooktop. The first decision is whether to buy a cookware set or individual pieces such as a skillet and a saucepan. The second determination is what kind of magnetic based material to purchase. Cast iron pans and stainless steel (as long as the base of the pan is a magnetic grade of stainless steel) are two examples of induction compatible materials. The third step is to determine what type of cookware items you need and then consider the quality, durability and cost of those individual pieces or sets. Stainless steel and non-stick induction ready skillets and other pieces of induction ready cookware can also be used on gas and electric stoves.
Settings and Safety Features
The most common modes available in induction cooktops are manual, preset and timer. The manual setting involves increasing and decreasing the temperature, so an accurate temperature can be selected. Most people find that when learning how to use an induction cooktop they experiment with temperatures for particular recipes. This mode allows one to do this. Some models of induction cookers have one touch functions such as simmer, boil, and keep warm. A timer mode is a feature of quite a few portable cooktops and can be easily set.
A child lock, auto pan detection, low and high voltage detection, and overheating protection are some of the most common safety features found on induction cooktops.
Pros and Cons of Induction Cooktops
Preparing food using induction technology has many advantages. A variety of recipes can be prepared since portable units have a wide temperature with adjustable power and temperature controls. Although power levels vary among cooktops they are generally either 100-1800W, 200-1800W or 500-1800W. Induction cookers usually offer 10, 15, or 20 temperature levels. Examples of temperature ranges are: 140-460°F and 100-460°F. They have the capacity to warm up more quickly compared to electric ranges, which makes for faster cooking times. A decrease in cooking time is an incentive to prepare a home cooked meal instead of eating restaurant food.
The surface of these units is safer than those of ranges and stovetops since it is not heated directly. Therefore, there is little danger of producing a fire with an electromagnetic feature. Furthermore, since the pan is heated there is only a small likelihood any food or liquids that might drip on the unit would harden.
Another benefit of these devices is that they are easy to clean as there are no corners or recesses where food items can get trapped or where spilled liquids accumulate. Messes are also minimized since most units provide the convenient protection of switching itself off in case a pot has become dry or a spill occurs. Additionally, the cooler surface of the unit prevents spilled food or liquid from getting burnt or harden on ceramic/glass top.
There are a few disadvantages to using an induction cooker. One of the main complaints is the noise emitted from the fan and from the cookware. Another is that it is recommended to use a dedicated electrical outlet for your cooker. Lastly, only induction compatible cookware can be used with these cooktops.
Who Buys Induction Cooktops
The number of people switching to this way of cooking or simply adding this type of cooker to their kitchen is increasing. Manufacturers have wisely designed these cooktops to be compact, sleek and elegant. Potential consumers include those living in mobile homes, micro-apartments, tiny houses, micro-shelters or who travel in RVs. They find having this appliance is preferable to a full-size stove because they can cook their food more efficiently than with a traditional stovetop and not have to spend a lot of time cleaning the cooktop. Dorm students are using their cooktops more saving them money and time. Small businesses such as food trucks or carts, convenience stores, or small take-out restaurants are using these devices to keep food warm or prepare customized meals.
Busy people are also looking to minimize the amount of time they have to spend cooking. Food can be prepared and the cleanup completed in a much shorter period of time than if they used a standard sized stove. This eliminates the need to spend a big portion of the morning or evening in the kitchen.
Employers could easily place an induction cooktop in the staff lunchroom. Individuals could cook a healthy and tasty meal for lunch quickly instead of microwaving a frozen dinner or buying fast food. This minor expense would produce goodwill among the employees.
Final Thoughts About Innovation
While induction cooktops and other kitchen appliances are seen as innovative, I am amazed at the continuous development of these and other common appliances. For example, not too long ago, there were only a couple of waffle irons or waffle makers on the market. However, in recent years, manufacturers have developed a wide range of waffle irons/makers from which to choose. Some models are fairly simple in design with the basic features, while others have several browning levels, deep pockets and top of the line construction. If you are in the market for one, visit this site to see some of the best waffle makers and irons on the market. They also have a nice roundup of other innovative appliances that aren’t widely advertised.