Induction is a rapidly growing method for cooking in the United States. Induction works by passing currents through electromagnets in the stovetop, which in turn transfer this energy directly to the metal cooking implement. The resistance of the currents passing through the cookware heats the metal, which in turn cooks the food.
How Induction Works
Beneath the glass top surface of an induction stove are several high-frequency electromagnetic coils. The coils produce an electric current, which circulates through the coils and into any magnetic surface that comes in contact with the stove, such as cookware made of steel, cast iron, or aluminum.
This magnetic energy produces a warming reaction within the cookware, which is what cooks the food. Only a magnetic surface, such as the cookware, can be heated this way. The cooktop itself stays cool, resulting in less energy loss.
Why Use Induction Cooking
There are several methods available for cooking food, such as electric coils, glass top electric stoves, and gas stoves. Each of these methods has its advantages, but they also have drawbacks that induction cooking methods help to solve.
When the right type of cookware is used, it takes very little energy to heat and cook your food. Only the cookware is being heated, so the kitchen itself does not become overheated through the loss of energy. The University of Kentucky (PDF) estimates that using induction cooking is about 90 to 95 percent efficient, which is much higher than gas or electric cooking, and therefore saves energy. This is good for commercial kitchens that use stoves for hours at a time, as well as for homeowners who are attempting to lower their overall energy usage.
One of the advantages of a gas stove over an electric stove is the immediate heating that occurs when you turn on a burner. Induction stovetops heat up nearly instantaneously as well, generating and transferring only as much energy as required.
Induction works by heating metal surfaces through resistance. Therefore if there is no metal cookware in contact with the stove, there is no heat being generated. This leads to fewer kitchen burns or fears of animals or children burning themselves on a heated surface once the cookware has been removed.
Induction cooking is extremely efficient. Your food cooks very evenly and quickly with no excess energy that could lead to scorching or over heating of the food.
Drawbacks to Induction Cooking
Induction is a safe and efficient method of cooking, but it does have some drawbacks.
The biggest problem is the cookware; not all types of cookware will work properly on an induction stovetop. Induction heats through resistance, so the cookware needs to be dense and magnetic. Steel or iron are the optimum cookware for use on an induction stovetop; thinner metals like aluminum do not offer enough resistance, which means they don't heat well and can take longer to cook the food.
The cost of an induction cooktop may be more than traditional electric or gas ranges. The starting purchase point of an induction stove is about $1,150; many standard electric and gas stove tops start out at considerably less. Additionally, unless you already have the right type of cookware, you will have additional expenses in purchasing to get the cookware that works with the stove.
Purchasing Induction Cooktops and Ranges
There aren't as many options for induction ranges and cooktops as there are for standard electric and gas models, but those models that are available are often worth checking out.
- Jenn-Air: The Jenn-Air JIC4536XS is an induction stove top that has bridges between the front and back burners. This is ideal because it allows you to place pancake griddles and other large pans on the stove and still get consistent heating. It's rated highly by Yale Appliances review blog.
- Bosch: The Bosch 800 series induction cooktop is also well-reviewed amongst consumers and reviewers at Induction Cooktop Reviews. They love the touch controls, fast cooking and the sleek, stainless steel appearance of the stove.
- Thermador: The Thermador Freedom induction cooktop is one of the more expensive models, but it allows you to place up to four pans anywhere on the stove - no specific burners needed. It also has a touch screen control that gets it good reviews from chefs.
Cookware for Induction Stoves
Induction cooking is made possible and efficient through the use of the right cookware. The following types of cookware work the best with an induction stove:
- All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware: All of All-Clad's Tri-Ply Stainless Steel cookware is compatible with induction cooktops.
- Staub: Staub's cast iron cookware, including their dutch ovens, are all suitable for use with induction cooktops.
Induction is an efficient and safe method of cooking that many people are beginning to appreciate. Take a look at induction the next time you're in the market for a new stovetop and see what advantages it can bring to your kitchen.