What is an induction cooktop?

October 26th, 2011

Appliance Questions

Induction cooking is all the rage right now – everyone seems to be talking about it. But what is an induction cooktop and why would you buy one rather than a traditional electric or gas stove?

Conventional electric and gas cooktops both work in the same way: they become hot and then this heat is transferred to your pot.

Induction cooktops work differently by using electromagnetic energy to heat the pot itself. Induction energy coils below the cooktop’s surface produce a current that reacts only with metal – so if you place a metal pot on the cooktop, it will become hot. But if you place your hand or a tea towel (anything non-metal) on the surface, nothing will happen.

There are many advantages to induction cooking:

•    Speed – induction cooktops can boil a litre of water in around 90 seconds, which is 3 times faster than gas or electric.
•    Safety – there are no open flames and there’s less chance of accidentally putting your hand on a hot element because the only thing that’s hot is the pot.
•    Flat surface – looks great and is easy to clean. Plus you can use the cooktop as additional bench space when not in use.
•    Energy efficient –for example, Electrolux induction cooktops are 50% more efficient than traditional electric cooktops and 70% more efficient than gas cooking.

But don’t all professional chefs cook with gas?

Not true. Tetsuya Wakuda (founder of Sydney’s iconic restaurant Tetsuya’s) uses Electrolux induction cooktops in his restaurant:

“I need equipment that will give me the same result each time. For example, say we’re poaching ocean trout in herbs and olive oil at a low temperature, we know that every time we do this using induction the result will be the same – perfect – which is essential for restaurant cooking. With induction, the heat is consistent across the entire base of the pan.”

“It’s also about cutting down the time you spend cleaning up. If something boils over, it’s just a matter of wiping down a surface – which means you need fewer chemicals for cleaning.”

You can read the full interview with Tetsuya here. Plus check out this video in which Tetsuya demonstrates how to perfectly cook a wagyu steak:

Also interesting is this demonstration of making scrambled eggs on an induction cooktop:

Louise is a writer with a passion for appliances, especially those that involve food. She is particularly fond of ovens because they enable her to make cake. Apart from baking Louise also enjoys listening to alternative music, dying her hair various unnatural colours and writing poetry that has been described (by her Nan) as 'quite nice'. On her appliance wish list is a Hello Kitty toaster and 'Hero' the barking dog-shaped hot dog maker. She lives in Sydney. Google+

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