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Cooking on induction hob - how is it?

  • Peg May 4, 2009 04:43 AM
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Due to a screw-up by my kitchen maker (who has gone bust and someone else is finishing the work, long painful story) - my plan for a gas hob has been scuppered, and as far as I can determine I must now have an induction hob instead (due to close proximity of a wall).

I have never cooked in anger on an induction hob - what do I need to know? Does it use a lot of power and cost a fortune to run? Will I need lots of new cookware? Is it easy to clean? Will I be able control the temperature sufficiently at a low heat? (as per a very low gas flame). Can I use a griddle on it? Can I even cook directly on it (pancakes etc)?

Should I demolish the wall and start the kitchen again? (the answer to that is NO!!).

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  1. I had an induction stove in Japan and absolutely loved it. The heat is very even and easy to control, but the electricity use is only a small fraction of what you'd use with a traditional ceramic/coil stove. The stove itself will never heat up, so you can pretty much wipe up any mess/spills within a minute or two after you finish making the dish. With a traditional flat top, you usually have to wait quite a while for the stove to cool down and by then, all the gunk is already a dried on mess.

    It's also much safer for children than any other stove since there is no risk of touching a burner left on and burning yourself. If you turn a burner on and there is no pan on the burner, it just turns itself off.

    I found that I had quite a bit of control over the heat, much more than I have on my gas stove.

    You probably will have to buy new cookware, but what you have to buy depends on the type of stove. I think with the newer ones, you won't need to buy quite as many as you would with the older ones. Typically you need flat-bottom pots and pans made of more conductive materials. The stove uses the pot to conduct the heat, so you can't make anything directly on the stove without the pot. If you try a type that won't conduct electricity, the burner will turn itself off in a few seconds.

    9 Replies
    1. re: queencru

      Thanks for the quick reply - I am a bit less stressed now about not getting gas. Maybe this will turn out to be a good thing after all!

      1. re: Peg

        Cookware must be compatible -- a quick way to check is with a magnet. If a magnet sticks to your cookware, you should be good to go. Copper and aluminum typically won't work. Cast iron: absolutely. Stainless: it depends.

        Induction is extremely efficient and way safer than conventional electric or gas since the only thing that gets hot is the cookware itself.

        That said, make sure that the you have the right power outlet (208/240) -- if you had planned on gas, the outlet would be typical house current (110V) since power only needed to run the controls.

        For indcution to work, the pan or pot must be sitting on the cooktop. Pick it up, and most units will shut off. If you like to pick up your pans and shake them around (sauteing or flipping pancakes, for instance), you might get frustrated with the unit going on and off. Personally, induction doesn't suit me, but lots of folks swear by it.

        My suggestion is not to buy unless the appliance store will let you crank up a unit in their store -- sometimes they will have demo's or workshops put on by the suppliers. (For example, Abt Electronics in the Chicago area just had a demo by Sub Zero/Wolf a couple weeks ago.)

        Induction units are very expensive -- the power efficiency most likely will never pay back the cost premium over conventional electric or gas -- so you better like it.

        1. re: MikeB3542

          FYI, my induction cooktop (4 burners, cost me $1500 US a year or so ago) and most others I've seen don't behave as you describe in your 4th paragraph. Mine does turn off the *power* to the burner when you pick up the pan, but it turns it right back on again automatically (and at the same power level it was before) when you return the pan to the cooktop. So you can saute, flip pancakes, etc. just as you would on gas. Except you're not wasting energy while the pan is in the air.

          If you leave the pan off the burner for a while (on mine I think it's 2 minutes or so) the cooktop will assume that you're done cooking and turn off that burner.

          Just to back up something Politeness said, I also have not needed a double boiler since getting induction. I've never measured with a thermometer but the lowest setting on my cooktop is perfect for melting chocolate.

          The only problem I've had is getting a hold of some specialty pieces of cookware that may not be available in an induction compatible model, like a pressure canner. That may not be as big a problem in the UK, since induction is much more popular there than here in the US.

          1. re: Buckethead

            My experience was with an older model, so glad to see that they are friendlier to use. My point is simply try before you buy.

            If you are accustomed to cooking with gas, or find conventional electric stoves frustrating, induction is a good albeit expensive alternative where you can't get a gas hookup.

            Let's keep the whole energy cost issue in perspective. The average cost to run a stovetop is roughly $15/year for gas and $30/year for conventional electric. http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity...
            Induction is roughly 20-25% more efficient than conventional electric.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inductio...
            I will let you do the math -- if energy savings are a priority, it seems pretty clear that induction pays back pennies on the dollar. The trouble is that while induction is a more efficient way of cooking with electricity, the electrical grid itself is losing 1/3 of the energy generated before it even gets to your home.

            1. re: MikeB3542

              MikeB3542, it is a great deal of fun, and a virtually infinitely extensible exercise, to calculate costs of energy usage when external factors may be taken into account. Your initial point, that if one pays substantially more for an induction cooktop hoping to recoup the premium based upon savings in the electricity bill alone, then that person is kidding himself (or herself), is beyond question. When externalities are thrown into the mix, then the contribution of the cooktop to the ambient heating of the kitchen would be the local, first, factor to take into consideration. In the winter months, an energy inefficient cooktop could contribute to a lowering of home heating bills and thus high efficiency could be a net loss, while in the summer months, the same lower efficiency of the cooktop could require that the heat pump or the air conditioner work extra cycles, raising the electric bill paid for the house as a whole.

              1. re: Politeness

                Up here in Wisconsin, the kitchen is awfully popular in the wintertime, which about now feels like most of the year. We take the cooking outside when we can in the summer.

                I was just trying to poke a bit at the claims that changing to an induction rangetop would put a dent in the fuel bill.

            2. re: Buckethead

              Buckethead, I am surprised that you are having difficulty getting ahold of a pressure canner for use on your induction cooktop. Kuhn-Rikon is very widely distributed in the United States and worldwide. We bought (separately, before they were offered as a set) the two pots of what is now called the Kuhn-Kikon Duromatic Duo, http://www.zappos.com/n/p/p/7466366/c... , which is also available at Amazon.com and a place called BOOMj.com (which I had never heard of until I ran a search five minutes before posting this). There are Kuhn-Rikon units that have much greater capacity than those two pieces, also. The quality and solidity of the Kuhn Rikon Duromatic series bottoms (the pots themselves) are very high, they work flawlessly with the induction cooktop, and they can go straight into the dishwasher (Kuhn-Rikon advises against washing the pressure lids in the dishwasher, however). For those reasons, we get more use from the Kuhn-Rikons as "regular" pots than we do as pressure cookers.

              Separate note: in my earlier reply to Peg, which I posted sufficiently earlier that my post is no longer editable, I referred to Hackman "Etiqet" cookware. I misspelled, because the final t is doubled: "Etiqett." See http://www.hackman.fi/web/hackmanwww....

              1. re: Politeness

                Oh, I did find a pressure cooker (got a Fagor Futuro), but what I couldn't find is a pressure canner (a pressure cooker large enough to process lots of jars at once, like one of these: http://www.homesteadharvest.com/aa925...). The Fagor works fine, I just would have liked something larger for canning.

                1. re: Buckethead

                  The Duromatics run as large as 12 liters in the Hotel series. http://www.kuhnrikon.ch/wEnglish/mFil... See model 30333 on page 3 of the .pdf file.

                  (Of course that does not hold a candle to the 41½ quarts of the largest canner on the page you linked. http://www.homesteadharvest.com/aa941... That pot would hold 83 pounds of water; I'd worry about the integrity of the glass cooktop with that much mass in one place atop it.)

      2. Peg, We have been cooking on an induction hob for over a decade now. Until January, our unit was a Jenn-Air brand hybrid -- it had two induction cooking areas and two ribbon radiant cooking areas. Within a very few weeks after we installed the Jenn-Air hob, we discovered that we almost never used the radiant side of the hob; the radiant cooking areas were used ONLY when both of the induction cooking areas were already occupied and in use. In a decade or so of use, the radiant side of the Jenn-Air hob -- totaling the use of both cooking areas -- probably saw less than 100 hours of use, grand total. That is some indication of how addictive cooking with induction can become, and how quickly. We now know several people who have switched to induction, some from electric and some from gas, and none of them ever will voluntarily go back to any other method of hob cooking.

        (A few years ago, well after we purchased our Jenn-Air hob. Whirlpool Corporation purchased Maytag, which was Jenn-Air's parent company. Earlier this year, we needed a repair to the induction side the hob, and the repair required a Jenn-Air specific part that no longer is available: Whirlpool Corporation has completely and utterly orphaned Maytag-era Jenn-Air products. So four months ago we replaced the hob with an all-induction LG unit.)

        To address your specific questions, as to power consumption. our immediate previous range prior to getting the Jenn-Air was a conventional (resistive technology) electric range; after we switched to induction, our electric bill dropped dramatically; induction is much, much more energy efficient than either conventional electric or gas.

        Induction is also much more powerful and faster than either conventional electric or gas. Bosch's North American website has a video of times to bring a certain quantity of water to a boil -- by Bosch's measurement, it takes 9:45 on an electric hob, 7:01 on a gas hob, and 3:39 on an induction hob. That is consistent with our experience. Induction also is as finely adjustable as gas, and much easier to fine-tune at low-heat settings, levels that would cause gas to flame-out. You may never need a double boiler (bain marie) again.

        We found when we switched to induction that most of our existing cookware did work just fine, even some old and cheap West Bend brand pots purchased in the late 1940s right when production lines ramped up again after WWII, and every piece of cast iron we owned worked well, of course. Our cast aluminum pots did not work on induction, and the local charity was happy to accept them.

        Because you live in the UK, you are in a region where induction-ready cookware in readily available, as induction cooking has long been popular on the Continent, and is just beginning to get popular here in North America. Some induction-ready cookware (Demeyere from Belgium is the standard) is moderately expensive, but Berndes has recently introduced some lower-priced lines (Injoy, for instance) that are quite reasonably positioned. Sitram also makes some economy lines that work on induction. And I think that the Hackman (iittala) Etiqet line is available in the UK (it cannot be purchased in North America).

        Yes, you can use a griddle on an induction hob. In fact, LG Electronics ships a two-"burner" griddle as a free extra with its induction hobs sold in North America. You cannot cook directly on the top of an induction hob because the cooking areas will not work except in the presence of a ferrous (iron-based) pot or pan. Of course, you COULD add a generous portion of iron filings to your pancake batter in order to cook the pancakes directly on the hob, but that might adversely affect the taste and digestibility of the pancakes.

        Various makes and models of induction hobs have different delays before they automatically shut off when a pan is removed from the cooking area. On our former Jenn-Air, a vey loud and very annoying beep commenced instantaneously when a pan was lifted off the cooking area; our newer LG remains silent, but will automatically shut down the burner 30 seconds later if the pan is not replaced. Thirty seconds at a time should accommodate any off-the burner times in wok-style cooking.

        It is harder to flambé on an induction hob than on a gas hob, because there is no readily available flame; the compensation is that you cannot flambé your sleeve, either.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Politeness

          Wow - OK I'm convinced!
          I had imagined induction was just some new-ish fanged technology that would pass, but evidently not.
          I am asking my fitter to check whether I can use the Siemens EH879SB11 model in the area I'm told is too narrow and too low for the gas/griddle hob I was planning on. (in a recess in a chimney breast).
          UK electrics are fine as everything is 240v, and all my cookware is steel (apart from a small copper pan that I have used precisely twice ever).
          Having check the prices there's not a lot between a good gas hob (I was getting one with an integral griddle) and an induction hob - so assuming the insurance company doesn't object (as I said, long story) I will go the induction route.
          Thanks for all the advice and knowledge!