Whether you’re remodeling your kitchen, or just looking to replace old cooking appliances, you’ve surely heard the pros and cons of both gas and electric cooktops. Gas is very responsive and precise, but electric has a smooth look and is easy to clean. So, which one is better?
What if we told you there was a third option – one with the responsiveness of a gas cooktop and the ease of use of an electric one? There is, and it’s called induction cooking.
What is induction?
An induction cooktop looks just like an electric one, and it does use electricity to create the heat, but it does it in a different way. A magnetic array called an inductor is placed under the glass surface, and it vibrates at a high frequency.
If there’s nothing above the inductor on the glass, nothing happens and it shuts off. However, when you place a pan on top, the magnetism begins to vibrate the molecules in the pan and that generates heat – making the pan itself the heating element. This creates the ability to cook with extremely responsive heat and the best efficiency. If you need more convincing, here are four reasons to switch to induction cooking.
1. Efficiency of induction cooking
Compared to gas and electric cooking, induction is definitely the most effective use of energy. With a gas range top, you’ll be using 65% of the energy produced, 75% with electric, and 85% with induction. What does this mean? Your cooking time will be shorter and you’ll be spending less money to run your appliance.
2. The chocolate test
We have several fun tests that we do to compare the efficiency of different types and brands of burners (for example, did you know an induction burner can boil water in under 40 seconds?), but one of our favorites is the chocolate test.
We put chocolate chips in a pan – we use the same one for every test – and turn the burner to the lowest setting. Once the chocolate is melted, we time how long it can maintain without scorching.
The typical consumer gas burner will scorch the chocolate in ten minutes or less. Great professional ranges can make it last 40 minutes, but most scorch the chocolate in 20 or less (only the Wolf gas burner can exceed an hour without scorching, and it can do it all day). Which induction burner can go all day without scorching? All of them. As the home cook, this means you will never burn your delicate sauces and never have to use a double boiler.
3. Ease of use
Whether it’s cleanliness you’re worried about or the ventilation of your home, induction fits the bill.
The top never gets hot enough to sear on spills – you can even touch the surface right next to a boiling pan and it won’t be hot. You’ll be able to cook inside in the summer without breaking a sweat, since you’ll only need to ventilate steam and smoke. This is one of the main reasons that restaurant kitchens in France and Spain are beginning to switch over to induction.
Induction cleanliness is by far the most simple. Since the glass top won’t sear spills on, simply spray it with glass cleaner, wipe down, and move on.
4. Get the most for your money
With a gas range top, the differences are very pronounced between good, better, and best, which means you’ll need to spend a pretty penny for the best. When you start looking at induction, though, the variance between models isn’t as pronounced. You’ll be able to get just what you need with any model, and as you spend more, you’ll be getting upgrades in features, not power or control.
Some features you might want to splurge on with the higher-end models include the capability to bridge two burners so you can straddle them with a large pan or griddle and control them together, or the ability for your cooktop to detect the exact location of a pan. GE Café and Monogram models have the ability to couple with a temperature probe you can place into your pot and it will maintain a precise temperature – eliminating the need for a separate sous vide appliance.
As you move from cooktops to ranges, the prices vary a lot more, mostly because of other factors in the range like oven performance, size, and style.
Induction cooktops are available in 30” and 36” widths. Bertazzoni makes a wonderful combination cooktop with three gas burners and two induction burners for those who enjoy both. Induction ranges are common in 30” and 36” widths, like the GE, Bertazzoni and Wolf ranges pictured. Aga makes a 48” wide induction range.
Cons to induction cooking
After all this, you might be wondering if there’s anything induction doesn’t do. It does have one detriment, and that is that not all cookware will respond. Your pot or pan must have iron or nickel in it – aluminum will not respond.
Cast iron, stainless steel, and copper all work beautifully, and most cookware will indicate on the box whether it is ready to be used for induction. If you’re not sure, try holding a magnet to the bottom and if it sticks, it will work! There’s also a smartphone app called Induction Ready that can help you out if you can’t track down a magnet.
So, what do you think? Are you ready to switch over to induction? If you have any questions, we’d be happy to answer them! Give us a call at 801-295-9413!