A Love Letter to My Induction Cooktop

A Love Letter to My Induction Cooktop

When my wife and I moved into our condo, we knew it would be a perfect home for us and our dog Spock. Well . . . almost perfect.

I’m a pretty serious home cook, and our previous house featured a large, well-equipped kitchen with a robust four-burner gas cooktop. Our new kitchen was much smaller and had a shopworn, low-end electric range. The stove had to go. But a gas range was not an option as our homeowner’s association required electric cooktops and ovens.

While I liked the idea of moving away from fossil fuels like natural gas, I had been using gas cooktops my entire life. Electric ranges have the reputation of being underpowered, slow to heat, and imprecise for making temperature adjustments. I thought I would have to settle for longer cooking times, broken sauces, cloudy stocks, and even slightly higher electric bills.

Luckily, none of this came to pass. One day my wife surprised me with a new induction range. It runs on electricity, but meets—if not exceeds—many of the advantages of gas. Now after two years, hundreds of meals, dozens of sauces, and gallons of homemade stock, I wouldn’t trade my induction range for any other type of cooktop.

Induction Redux: How It Works

Induction cooktops resemble ceramic-top electric ranges, but the resemblance is only about 5 millimeters deep. Beneath the glasslike surface lies a completely different mechanism. Instead of heating elements, induction cooktops use coils of copper wire that operate as an electromagnet. By running alternating current through the copper coils, an oscillating magnetic field is generated just above the coils. This field acts directly on your cookware, basically turning your pots and pans into heating elements themselves. The stovetop doesn’t get very hot – and neither will your kitchen!

Energy Efficiency & Sustainability

Reducing my fossil fuel dependency and carbon footprint is important to me. I drive an electric vehicle, and am fortunate to have local sanitation services that proactively recycle, compost, and divert landfill waste. I am also lucky to receive my electric service through MCE, which offers a 100% renewable energy option, Deep Green, currently procured from 50% wind and 50% solar.

My induction range does its part, too. Induction ranges are the most efficient cooking appliance available.

Fast and Ferrous

Efficiency also translates to blazingly fast heating. By electromagnetically inducing the ferrous metals in your cookware to heat up, the cooktop eliminates two steps: bringing the element to temperature and conducting that heat to your pot. I can bring two cups of water to a boil in about a minute. Even in my very heavy cast iron skillet, I can have oil shimmering and smoke wisping faster than I can salt ‘n pepper a steak!

Precision Temperature Control

That nearly instantaneous induction action also makes for precise control. Conventional electric cooktops regulate temperature by basically turning on and off at intervals that approximate the selected temperature setting. This is why they can be prone to scorching your béchamel or steaming your seared meats. Induction ranges, however, actually modulate the current running through the magnetic coils, directly and consistently applying energy to your cookware. And because the heat comes from your pan rather than a spiral-shaped element touching your pan, induction tends to heat more evenly with fewer “hot spots.”

Safety First

Now that I no longer cook over an open gas flame, one of those eliminated “hot spots” is the sleeve of my bathrobe! Since there is no heating element to worry about, induction is the safest of all cooking options – only the cookware itself gets hot enough to burn.

Most induction ranges can turn themselves off automatically if cookware is not detected. My cooktop even features a pan-overheat detection mode that turns off the power if a pan is left on an active surface “burner”. So I no longer have that nagging feeling that I may have left the stove on.

Adjustment Period

Of course cooking with induction takes a little getting used to. If you like shaking your pans over a flame, you have to kick that habit lest you scratch your beautiful glass-ceramic stovetop. Speaking of pans, you may have to replace some of your copper and aluminum ones. Induction only works on cookware with a significant ferrous metal content. You can check the suitability of your pots and pans by testing whether a magnet will stick to the bottom surface.

Some adjustments I found easy to make, like not having to clean up burnt-on stains, not having to cook in a hot kitchen, and not using very much energy. For all the things it does—and for some things it does not—I love my induction range.

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