January 3, 2009
Green Cooktops – Induction Stove Tops
Induction cooking is fairly new to the realm of home and professional chefs. For induction cooking the burner, which is a ring of metal in most cases, uses electromagnetism to heat the cookware. The burner itself never becomes hot or even warm. This form of cooking and heating uses markedly less energy, about 200% less than gas, as only the pot or vessel is heated, not the coils as is the case with electric stoves or the cast iron pot holders for gas stoves. In addition the burners do not heat the surrounding air either contributing to the increased heat and energy efficiency.
For the induction or electromagnet stove top to work, the cookware used in cooking must be able to be magnetized; if not the burner will not heat the cookware and energy will be wasted. When purchasing cookware be sure to see if it is labeled as an induction compatible piece of cookware. Materials that do not work with an induction stove top are ceramics, stoneware, glass dishes, plastics, of course, aluminum and other non-ferrous metals. A metal must be able to hold an electromagnetic charge such as copper and ferrous metals which includes a lot, but not all, stainless steel cookware. The electromagnetism causes friction between the molecules of the cookware which creates heat. This results in the maximum cooking temperature being set by the pot being used not the stove or heating system.
One of the best features is that the stove top does not get hot reducing the probability of burning your hand or fingers; however, remember the cookware will still be hot. No flames are present as with gas stoves and the possibilities of a fire due to a poor electrical connection are significantly reduced.
Since the pot or cookware actually completes the circuit the burners shut off when a pot is removed form the burner further increasing energy efficiency. In addition, the burners can ‘sense’ when a pot’s content is boiling which allows for more controlled cooking conditions and leads to fewer meals being ruined.
Heating times are also greatly improved compared to traditional cooking methods. A thin pan containing a few ounces of oil for sautéing can heat to temperature in about 10 seconds. Of course the rate of heating is completely dependent upon the thickness of the pan and amount of liquid being boiled. The wattage of the induction cook top also plays a large role in heating times. Since the system works on electromagnetism, a higher wattage will produce heat quicker than a lower wattage model. When starting to use induction stove tops, be sure to keep a watchful eye on the meals you are preparing as things may heat up and cook a lot quicker than you may be used to.
Since the top of the cooking area is not hot, cleaning is simple and easy. No food is encrusted on the top nor can it fall through the elements, therefore a simple wet cloth can be used cleanup most areas of the induction cook tops.
The induction heating system is gaining in popularity and prices are falling. It’s no wonder as they save money, are safe to use and simple to clean; however you do need to choose particular cookware that interacts with the stove top for everything to work effectively.