Dry caramel with induction
Hey all! I'm a professional baker, and am currently moving into a new bakery. I heard aaaaall about the wonderfulness that is induction, plus it would save me from installing a hood ($$$$). All seemed perfect!
I make large quantities of caramel (dry method), and just made my first batch on my induction burner. It's an 8 qt yield. And it took twice as long as it used to on the gas burner (1.5 hours!). Sugar stuck and cooled on the sides of the pot, and getting it to melt and stay melted was really, really difficult. Needless to say, I'm quite frustrated.
Am I doing something wrong? I had it on high heat the whole time. It's an 1800W, industrial cooktop.
Any insight or advice would be SO very much appreciated. I just don't know what to do. And I make brittle, too, not sure what to expect with that now.
In my experience, you don't want to make caramel or candy on induction in a pot with much bigger diameter than the induction ring. The edges of the pot won't heat - sounds like that's what happened to you. A wider pot is nice for dry caramel, but you might need to switch to a narrower one on the induction burner. The other problem I have had is the burner getting hot and shutting itself off.
What kind of pan have you been using? Wondering if a different one might ease the sticking and cooling on the sides of the pot. One with the capacity you need wouldn't be cheap, but OTOH certainly cheaper than a new stove + hood.
Is this a standalone, one-burner induction unit (like the Cooktek)?
So yes, it seems the ring is smaller than the pot, though I'm not sure how big the ring is. The pot is a 20 qt stock pot with a heavy bottom, about 13" in diameter (I think). It is a one-burner unit, Iwatani 1800. I had a really hard time finding a stock pot with a small-ish base, not sure if I can find one of the right capacity with a smaller base... especially for the brittles I make. Do you think a higher power burner would help?
My guess is that the induction ring is no bigger than 7 inches on the Iwatani, as on all standalone induction under-$500. that I know of.
That means that the pan base should be not much more than nine inches to avoid the problems you're experiencing on the sides.
It may be that the only way to get a bigger-diameter induction 'burner' is on a full, built-in cooktop rather than standalone one- or two-burner units. It's also possible that the $800-$1000 Cooktek standalone units, aimed entirely at the restaurant & catering market, allow the use of bigger pans.
A pot with 8-qt yield is conceivable within the limitations of the 9" base, but might not be easy to find, or reasonably priced. It would need sides that bow out rather than the straight walls of a stockpot. A Maslin pan, in other words. Demeyere makes a 10.6 qt one, which seems as if it would be almost big enough for 8 qt of result. It's stainless, with thicker base. [Ideally, I'd think a pan for that purpose would be of highly conductive, responsive material like copper or aluminum,but stainless is what seems to be out there in that shape at large capacity.]
That's what I was thinking - the largest hob on my GE induction range is 3700W, which is about the equivalent of a 27,000 BTU gas burner. That mother gets HOT!
The comments about the ferrous content of the pot, and also the fact that induction doesn't send heat up the sides, make me think you might be better off using something like enameled cast iron, which heats extremely well on induction and conducts the heat up the sides of the pot.