Using a comal on an induction cooktop?
We're looking at replacing our range and are considering induction.
I'm familiar with the general pros and cons, but have a rather specific question.
We cook corn tortillas on a fairly regular basis. This involves using a dry comal (just in case - think cast iron pan with no sides) over a 15K gas burner set to about 8 for the better part of an hour.
Is an induction cooktop going to be OK with this? I'm thinking possibly not. I don't want to find out after the fact.
Yep. Your magnet will be your friend in the beginning :) First for checking out what you already have and then for checking places like TJMaxx for one-off pieces.
You make your tortillas or you buy them? Is "8" a high or low temp? We fry up our tortillas a bit in some lard at a medium high temp and it takes just a few minutes so I'm probably misunderstanding some part of your post.
I do know it will work as it is cast iron, but I have read of things like 'empty pan detection'. I'm worried that using the comal may trigger this and shut the burner down.
I am making tortillas from masa harina, so each tortilla spends about 2 minutes on the comal, and the comal is dry. "8" would be 80%, so medium high.
I guess an email to the manufacturer may be in order.
My experience is with an induction hot plate, not a more sophisticated cooktop.
While I have a Lodge cast iron griddle, I usually use a thinner carbon steel comal. For (flour) tortillas I use it on an electric coil burner, set at about the same heat level I do for pancakes (using carbon steel crepe pan).
Why do I prefer to coil over induction for this task?
- finer power settings. The induction unit has 10 steps, 5 is plenty fast for boiling water, 3 is the lowest steady heat, 1 and 2 are intermittent.
- possible overheating. I think that's where an empty pan detection might act. Pans heat up fast on an induction unit, and can get too hot. There's a temperature sensor under the glass that can trigger a shut down if it senses too high heat above.
- the induction unit has a temperature control, but the spacing is too coarse to be of much use. Plus there is a temperature difference between the pan and the sensor under the glass.
A more expensive induction unit with finer controls on both power and temperature might work fine. I doubt if there are reviews that talk about making tortillas, but there might be ones that talk about making pancakes.
Come to think of it, I make french toast on my induction unit without problems.
Another possible issue. The induction burner uses one or more coils to generate the magnetic field and heat in the pan. On mine that is a 6" donut. It does not spread like a flame, so even heating depends even more on the conduction qualities of the pan. So thick aluminum does better than thin carbon steel.
For tasks like roasting onions, peppers and tomatillos, is a comal on a portable butane burner outside. Same goes for searing meat and fish.
Another carbon steel comal is my favorite baking sheet for biscuits.
I have a cast iron pan that's pretty similar to a comal - it's flat with a tiny raised lip around the edges. It's about 10" in diameter and I use it for cooking naan and other flatbread on my single-burner induction cooker all the time. No problems. It works great. :) The empty pan detection thing only happens when/if the pan gets hot enough, which hasn't happened with cooking naan. It has happened with deep frying, though. But it's not a big deal - just wait a minute and turn it back on. The pan has enough residual heat to keep cooking.
re: c oliver
With my burner, the way the empty pan feature works is by detecting the temperature of the pan. When it reaches the determined temperature, the burner shuts off. It actually has nothing to do with the pan being empty, but rather that the contents of the pan are at the same temperature as the pan, so it thinks the pan is empty.
Like I said, I've had this happen only when deep frying, and then only after, say, ten minutes when the oil reached the determined temperature. I haven't had this happen when I've heated up my flat griddle on the burner to the needed temperature.