Purchasing an induction cooktop can be daunting when you realize that not all of your current cookware may be induction ready. Because of the way induction works, you can’t use just any pot to cook. Examples of materials that will work are: carbon steel, cast iron, enameled cast iron, and magnetized stainless steel.
But how can you tell what pots to use on an induction cooktop? Luckily, it isn’t too complicated, but there are a few things you need to know.
Read on to find out what pots are safe to use on an induction cooker and how to tell them apart from cookware that won't work with induction burners.
Cookware Specific to Induction
The essential thing to remember with induction is that it’s a way of generating a magnetic field between the cooktop and the cookware. Based on the way the heat is made, the cookware must be made with ferrous materials, such as iron and other magnetic materials.
The Magnet Test
As it is tough to know what your cookware is made from, there is a simple way to test if your cookware is induction ready. Place a kitchen magnet on the base of your pans and pots. If the magnet holds strongly, then you have an induction-ready cookware.
Shapes and Sizes
Induction cooktops have a smooth, flat glass ceramic top. This allows heat to be evenly distributed across the pot for thorough cooking. However, this means that you may struggle if you like using woks or other curved cookware. You also need to look at the size of the burner. Using a pot that is too large means that your food won’t cook properly. It is also important to make sure the base is flat and if you have cast iron cookware that there are no burrs on the bottom of the cooking vessel. These burrs can be removed with a steel rasp.
If you have examined your pots and found them to be magnetic, flat and the appropriate size for your burners, then you can use those on induction cooktops.
Induction discs can be used with cookware that is not induction compatible. They are easy to find and are available in a variety of sizes. By placing the induction disc on the burner, you can use any type or size of cookware you have in your cupboard.
You do need to keep in mind, though, that when using an induction disc, the cooktop’s efficiency is reduced as more energy is needed to transfer the heat to the disc then to the pot. The other problem with these discs is that they have the potential of getting too hot and damaging the cooktop.
Unless you have no other option, don't use an induction disc. Instead, consider purchasing a cast iron skillet as they are affordable, versatile and can be used on all types of stovetops. They can be used to prepare eggs, bacon, pancakes, tortillas, pizza, fried chicken, corn bread, apple pie and much more. As your budget allows, you can add other pieces of cookware.
Carbon Steel and Cast Iron
If you want a pot that is suitable for high temperatures and naturally nonstick, a carbon steel or cast iron pot is perfect. These materials are also great because they are very cost friendly. Cast iron is quite weighty but great for wholesome meals. If you want a lighter pot, carbon steel offers the same qualities while being slightly less weighty. Carbon steel is mainly used to make pans, but there are pots available.
Enameled Cast Iron
If you enjoy acidic or tomato-based dishes but want to use cast iron, enameled cast iron works well. Unfortunately, normal cast iron is not ideal for this application as the acid in the foods leaves the pot with bare metal. Enameled cast iron has a porcelain finish which protects your pot.
This is an option if you want lightweight pots. Graniteware is made with steel that has a speckled appearance. The porcelain coating is on the outside and they are semi-nonstick. They are also very cost friendly.
The only downside is that the nonstick coating flakes off with regular use and you will have to replace the pot. The base of the pan is also quite thin, so you may get hotspots when cooking.
Stainless steel is one of the trickiest types of pots to choose from as they are not all made equal. The cheapest pots will not have a core. Higher end pots will have copper or aluminum cores between the stainless steel. This means it is a better conductor than just plain stainless steel.
Manufacturers add different elements to their bases, which means you have to check whether a pot really is magnetic or if it will only work on gas and electric stoves. As mentioned earlier, the magnet test will allow you to see whether or not the pot is compatible with your induction cooktop.
Luckily, when installing an induction cooker, you typically won’t have to replace all of your cookware as some of it should be compatible. If you do end up needing to replace all of your pots, there are many options available to you – carbon steel, cast iron, enameled cast iron, and magnetized stainless steel. Always check that a pot is induction ready before buying it to ensure you have a great induction cooking experience.