What is Induction Cooking?

The question of what is induction cooking? can only be explored after we have explored how we have cooked traditionally over the years and then we can take a closer look at the differences between traditional methods and induction cooking

How Have We Cooked Up Until Now?

When we explore the history of cooking we see that our ancient ancestors first used fire for cooking and heating our food. This has changed very little over the years as we are all familiar with the barbecue and this method of cooking over a naked flame or using hot coals for our heat source.

Modern day has progressed only in the sources of heat that we use. For the past hundred years or so, the two competing heat sources have been either gas or electric. With gas we are closer to our ancient naked flame cooking while electricity provided cleaner heat alternative.

The whole way of cooking involves heating up our cooking vessel and in turn this heats the contents – either solids or liquids through heat transfer. We are all familiar with this method, so why do we have alternatives to this tried and tested way of food preparation?

In this age of increasing awareness of enegy efficiency and our carbon use then we are obliged to test the authenticity of other cooking methods and heat sources for our cooking. The latest incarnation of this that is ready to take off in a big way is induction cooking and here at induction cookshop we will be looking deeper into this and providing essential information regarding all things induction cookery for you to make informed decisions regarding your future cooking habits.

The ‘New Kid on the Block’

Well, the new kid on the block in this instance is induction cooking. This is a new technology and the reason that it is so different is that the heat source does not heat the cooking vessel to then transfer the heat to it’s contents but it uses magnetic induction to make the cooking vessel the actual heat source in an incredibly efficient way.

That sounds a bit like science fiction or at the very least a high school physics lesson! Well, we could be forgiven for thinking this but the science behind this is fairly straight forward and certainly has no ill effects on the food that we will be preparing!

First off a coil of copper wire is placed under the cooking vessel and a medium frequency alternating current (ac) is passed through it. At this stage, nothing is happening and no heat is being produced and wasted. It is not until the cooking vessel is placed on the cooking plate that any heat is produced at all. This forms a magnetic field and turns the cooking vessel into a capacitor which means that the cooking vessel is now the heat source and able to cook our food or heat liquids very efficiently indeed.

If I don’t have the necessary skills to explain this to your satisfaction, then please let the nice man from GE explain and illustrate this in a more user friendly manner:

Benefits of Induction Cooking

Induction cooking has been used for years in professional kitchens, however, they are only just reaching domestic kitchens in any volume. There are many benefits that the professional cooks and chefs have known about for a long time and these include the following:

  • One of the most important benefits of induction cooking is it’s speed. Induction burners provide instant heat directly to the cooking vessel and therefore make the delivery of the heat to the food signifcantly faster than the traditional gas and electric methods.
  • Efficiency is key to the decision to opt for an induction cooktop. When looking into the numbers regarding the efficiency of these units it has been shown that induction cooking is 70% more efficient than the traditional gas and electric cooking method. This is too significant to ignore when making an objective decision regarding purchasing a new unit.
  • The professional cooks and chefs crave instant temperature control during cooking. With an induction unit this is a given. This may go against your intuition as your ‘gut feeling’ is that gas offers the best temperature control  but in tests, induction cooktops outperform gas models time and again.
  • Because of the way that induction cooktops work ie only the pan is heated, then if there are any spillages, the food that is spilled will not get baked onto the cooking hob. This is because the surface around the cooking vessel does not get heated so mopping up any excess will not be a messy affair. So, therefore, a big advantage of induction cooking is cleanliness.
  • Safety is a big issue when considering a new cooktop and an induction hob comes top of the ratings because of the technology it uses. The moment that a pan is removed from the stove is when the cooktop switches off. Because of this the place where the pan has been cooking cools down at a rapid rate and hence is cool enough to touch very soon after cooking has finished. Anyone with children will know that little fingers can get everywhere and you can be safe in the knowledge that the cooktop will be as safe as possible
  • The final consideration in this list is purely aesthetic. The looks of induction cooktops are very important and they compliment a modern kitchen very well with their sleek designs. They usually come with black glass surfaces and can be fitted in most kitchen worktops. The depth of these units is extremely shallow, making it very easy to fit anywhere that regulations allow and also they lend themselves to being manufactured for sale as portable units.

Induction Cooking Does Have it’s Disadvantages – But Not Many!

Reading the above explanation of induction cooking you could be forgiven for thinking that it is the ‘best thing since sliced bread!’ However, as you can guess by the title of this section, there are negatives that go along with all of the good stuff (but not very many).

  • When compared with traditional cooktops, the cost of induction units are more expensive. However, over recent times the costs have come down and in a small amount of cases the difference can now be seen as marginal.
  • When cooking on a cooktop that is an induction unit you will require special types of cookware. Because of the technology being used, you will need a pan set with a magnetic base for the induction hob to work. If you do not have magnetic bases on your cookware then the whole unit will not work. If you are uncertain as to your cookware is suitable all you need to do to test is is to try and stick a magnet to the bottom of the pans. If the magnet sticks, the your cookware is compatible. If you need new pans then this could be quite an expense.

I hope that the above has given you a good understanding of the basic question of What is induction cooking? If you have any comments to make or if you have any questions related to the above then please do not hesitate to contact me in the comments section below. I will get back to anyone who leaves a question or a comment.