The latest in energy efficient stove tops uses induction heating to warm and cook food. Food and liquids are heated significantly faster than with either a traditional electric stove or natural gas. But I’ve always had a few reservations with induction heating — although I’m becoming more convinced of its value all the time. My first reservation is that I hate cleaning a smooth cooktop surface. It seems to take three times as long as a traditional electric surface. We had a smooth cooktop two houses ago, and I cursed every time pasta water or mashed potato water boiled over onto the surface because it would cook right on and take me hours to get off (okay, I might be exaggerating a little). My other reservation is that it’s not gas. I love cooking with gas.
But now I find out that gas is highly inefficient when it comes to heating the pan and food. The majority of the heat is wasted — only 40% of the heat from gas actually makes it to the pan the other 60% ends up heating your kitchen. This is certainly not good in the middle of summer when the last thing you want is to add more heat to your home! With induction cooking 84-94% of the heat being transferred to the food and not to the kitchen, which means your food heats that much faster too. Secondly, cleaning the cooktop isn’t the chore it is with a traditional smooth cooktop because it never gets baked on to the cooktop surface. Because the majority of the heat is transferred directly to the cookware, the surface of the stove never gets more than warm. Therefore, any food that boils over doesn’t cook on to the surface which means cleaning it involves a wipe and that’s about it. It also means it’s a safer surface with young children around.
IKEA has developed a great video on how induction cooking works:
Cookware: Yes, you need to use a certain type of cookware with induction cooktops. Because the induction heating is generated with magnets, only steel cookware will transfer the heat. Amir Girgis, Director of Sales and Marketing at Integrated Appliances explains some of the reservations of induction cooking, as well as the best induction cookware to go with your cooktop.
1. Don’t buy a cheap induction cooktop!!! As we all know you get what you pay for, but with induction, a cheap cooktop means low wattage coils, which will not give you the benefits of the technology…mainly power.
2. People shouldn’t be concerned about the cookware issue. Today, you can find induction compatible cookware almost everywhere…even Walmart. The hum that Deborah refers to really addresses the inefficiency of the cookware. The hum is the audible “waste” of power that the cookware is not absorbing from the induction coil. Usually it is louder at higher power settings. One way to solve this is to research online for cookware with a “Class Induction” rating. This is the standard for induction quality cookware and was created by induction manufacturers in conjunction with cookware manufacturers, so that consumers could get all the power from the coil. It is a European standard which was quickly adopted by the cookware companies because of the success of induction in Europe. For testing purposes, keep a kitchen magnet with you when shopping. If the magnet sticks to the bottom of the pan, then it will work on induction.
3. To make everyone’s life easier…here is my Top “5” list of induction cookware:
Demeyere – from Belgium. Built specifically for induction. Class Induction rated. Viking cookware is made by them.
All-Clad Stainless Collection – the American standard.
Sitram – France
Mauviel – the standard for copper cookware also makes a line called “Inducinox”…good quality.
All Cast Iron cookware…Le Creuset, Lodge..whatever. If it doesn’t have asmooth bottom go and buy a silicon pad to put underneath to prevent it from scratching the glass.
Amir’s top 3 induction cooktop brands for quality and performance are:
Cost: Induction cooktops aren’t cheap but they are becoming more widely available. You don’t want to skimp on buying a low-end cooktop, as Amir points out above, because then you won’t be satisfied with the result. Another point to note is that induction cooktops run on 220volts, so make sure your kitchen is wired properly, and take any electrical changes into account when calculating your budget.
For more information on Induction cooktops, contact Amir at Integrated Appliances in Toronto.
Induction cooktops are sold at kitchen and department stores across North America.