What is induction cooking?
Induction cooktops look a lot like glass top halogen, or electric under glass. Sometimes they are built into a stove and other times it’s just a range.
Induction cooking uses electric currents to directly heat pots and pans through magnetic induction. Instead of using thermal conduction (a gas or electric element transferring heat from a burner to a pot or pan), induction heats the cooking vessel directly almost instantly.
Induction has been around for a long time. The process was developed decades ago and induction cooking has been widely used in Europe for a long time. Why? Cost savings.
How does induction compare to other cook types?
Speed and cost savings.
It’s said that on average induction will boil 50% faster and the temperature controls are much more precise.
It’s also said that induction is almost 90% efficient compared to 60% for gas - on average that is.
Induction can be 100% green, depending upon how your local electricity is made. In BC, where we live, all of our electricity is Hydro Electric. Being that we live in a temperaturate rain forest, this is 100% clean, renewable energy.
Gas is struggling these days, due to the cost and the simple fact that burning gas in your home introduces toxic fumes, such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. This has been shown to affect respiratory issues in young kids and older adults.
The gas industry states that these concerns are overblown and a good fan will easily carry the fumes out of the kitchen. Furthermore, the gas industry says that the electricity proponents are using this unjustified scare tactic unfairly and that the threat is overhyped. Even if this is true it seems that the gas industry is losing this battle as most large news outlets are promoting the narrative that gas from your stove is going to hurt you.
The gas industry has also stated that gas is cheaper but that too is changing.
Are there disadvantages to Induction
There is certain types of cooking that require a flame, like, wok cooking. To achieve the elusive ‘hok hey’ you just have to have gas. Other people will swear about their special dish that must be cooked over an open flame.
Induction cooktops are glass, and glass can scratch and break. I have personally had to replace cooktops that overzealous chefs broke but it does seem that the newer ones are stronger.
They can be another gadet. Induction cooktops are digital, which means the controls are touch screens on glass. While most people have become familiar with this technology I do find it’s a complaint I hear.
The learning curve
Induction cooking is super precise. This can be an issue when you are accustomed to your heat slowly moving up and down and you expect your food to continue to cook as the pan cools. Or, on the other hand, you are familiar with the pan slowly coming to temperature so that you can hear and smell the food reaching the perfect ‘doneness’. At first, this all is much more difficult to estimate with induction as the heat goes like a speed train to the temperature you set and stops like it hit a tree when you turn it off.
As stated above, induction is the method of heating the vessel. This means that nearly all of the energy goes directly into the cooking and there isn’t a radiant heat source. As soon as the energy is cut the pan temp starts to plummet The surface of the cooktop will stay relatively cool, only heated by the heat of the cooking vessel..
What is the best cookware?
The best way that I have found to manage the drastic cooking temperature of induction is to use heavyweight iron cookware or cookware that was engineered for induction. This allows me to manage the heat process as the pans hold the heat so incredibly well. I recommend using all carbon steel and cast iron, enamelled or not, and my #1 cookware for induction is Demeyere, specifically the Atlantis/Proline with their Triplinduc technology. Demeyere is a high end-choice, but cast iron can be relatively inexpensive.
Other stainless steel brands can work well too and weight matters. The more conductive material the better for managing the heat.
What about warping?
Warping is a thing with induction. I have gone down the rabbit hole on this and as far I can understand there is not 1 defined reason for warping. That said, I have a hunch, and here it is.
Nearly all the time, people complain of warping carbon steel. Compared to cast iron, carbon steel is nearly all iron, with a very small amount of carbon. It’s made thinner and bendable. Cast iron, on the other hand, is stiff and can crack instead of warping or bending.
I’ve spoken to industry experts, brand representatives, and dozens and dozens of people who have warped their cookware. The common issue that I have come to find is the type of induction cooktop.
The main culprit
It seems to me that inexpensive induction cook plates are mostly to blame. Almost all the time I find that people who have warped their pans are using an induction cook plate that costs under $100.
Induction is on the rise. In some places, gas in new homes is being outlawed and electricity is the alternative. Induction is the most expensive alternative but it is the best performance, by a long way. I expect induction to become the first choice for most new purchasers.