For decades, induction cooking has been popular in Europe and Asia. It is becoming more well-known and understood in the United States. Some people who have heard about it aren't quite sure how it works or whether the current cookware they own is induction compatible.
Cooking on an induction stove with induction cookware takes a little getting used to as the food cooks faster than on a conventional burner. For those who just want one or two burners, there are several high-quality portable and built-in induction cooktops available. Others decide to replace their gas or electric oven with a full-size free-standing induction range. Either way, you'll want to make sure you have the right cookware to use with your new induction appliance.
Keep reading if you would like to learn more how to identify if your cookware are induction-ready, why you want it in your kitchen, and how it works.
The Difference between Regular and Induction Stovetops
Regular stovetops refer to electric and gas stovetops. These stovetops heat pans and pots with direct contact using either flames or a heating element. The heat is then transferred from the burner into the pot or pan’s base. This process is called thermal conduction. Another way of saying this is that the induction cookware is the burner rather than the stovetop itself.
On the other hand, induction stovetops do not generate any heat. They have an electromagnetic coil below the surface of the cooktop the ceramic/glass (plate). When the unit is turned on, electric current flows through this coil. A magnetic field is produced which generates electric currents in the pot's metal as soon as it is placed on the burner. Since the pot is the heat source it transfers the heat to the food.
What Does Induction Cookware Mean?
Induction cookware is pots and pans that work with induction cooktops. The key with an induction cooktop is that your pots and pans have to be made from magnetic materials in order to work on this stovetop. The induction cooktop induces the electrons in the magnetic material to move which creates the electric current used to heat the pot or pan.
The best magnetic materials for induction cookware are steel, magnetic stainless steel, and cast iron. The stainless steel needs to contain iron to make it magnetic. Enameled and ceramic-clad pans and pots also work with induction cooktops thanks to the iron hidden in the ceramic layers.
Types of Cookware that aren’t Induction Compatible
Pots and pans that have glass, copper, or aluminum bases do not work on induction stovetops. However, if they have a layer of magnetic material on the base, they will work.
How to Tell If a Pan or Pot is Induction Compatible
If you have an induction cooktop and want to see which of your pans and pots are compatible, there is an easy trick to find out. Simply place a magnet on the base of the pan or pot. If the magnet sticks securely to the bottom, it is magnetic and is compatible with induction stovetops. If it falls off, you cannot use it for induction cooking. It is preferable that the bottom of the pan be smooth and flat. A pan that is not quite flat can be used on an induction burner if you slide a paper towel or cloth underneath the pan to stabilize. However, it is much better to have a flat base on your cooking vessel.
Interesting Facts about Induction
Here are some interesting things to consider regarding induction cookware and stovetops:
- Induction stovetops don’t get hot.
- If water boils over onto the stovetop, it doesn’t burn to the cooktop as it is not hot, making it much easier to clean.
- As the cooktop doesn’t heat up, there is no chance of a flammable item or pot holder catching fire when you are cooking.
- Your kitchen stays cooler as heat is not being produced by the stovetop.
- Thanks to this high energy efficiency, induction stovetops can cook your food much faster.
- The temperature of the cooktop can be adjusted far faster than electric or gas cook tops. This makes it a good choice for cooking food that needs careful temperature control.
- You can’t leave the burner on, because once your pan is removed, the heat source is gone. Most cooktops automatically shut-off when no induction ready pan is detected. This makes induction cookers much safer than electric or gas stoves.
The best thing about induction cookers is that they are efficient. The induction cookware heats up, using power, but once removed, the power is off. The induction burner itself never gets hot, so aside from the hot pot or pan, this cooker is much safer to use, especially if you have small children.
The magnetic heating system also means you are less likely to burn or melt items when placing them on the cooktop by mistake. Induction cookware may be an initial outlay that you don’t want to make, but in the long run, the saving will repay the expenditure over and over again.