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Stovetop Cooking: by temperature or power?

With most energy sources, stovetop cooking is by power: low, medium, high--with no clear idea what the real temperature might be. The changes on a dial usually seem continuous, but are they? With gas, they clearly are: you can see the changes in the flames. With electrical, coils may glow, but it's more a pattern of on's and off's, the temperatures themselves are unclear, and changes are sluggish. How does one know what the temperature actually is?

With induction, the settings are digital, and one can choose either power or temperature. My Vollrath Cadet has 20 levels of power or 10 degree temperature changes from 150 degrees to 400 degrees. Two different scales.

Which should I choose?

I've been trying to cook by temperature on my induction, and I sometimes don't know what temperature to set. What temperatures correspond to low, medium, or high? How does one obtain a perfect simmer?

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  1. the perfect simmer is obtained by turning the knob up or down until you're happy with 'perfect'

    the setting will differ by pan, what's in the pan, the ratio of surface area to volume/depth, etc.

    bottom line, marks on the dial are not absolutes - they are excellent as a reference point tho.....

    3 Replies
    1. re: PSRaT

      Hi PSRaT,

      Right you are, with either gas or electric, but . . .

      With my Vollrath Cadet induction unit, I can do it by temperature--usually 220 degrees. At 230, it begins to boil; at 210, it just warms.

      Ray

      1. re: drrayeye

        I suspect you will soon learn that different contents, different fill levels and different pans will require different temperatures.

      2. re: PSRaT

        Yes! I lower by degrees till I have what I want. Induction allows almost immediate feedback as I take the temp down. I do the same for maintaining PC pressure. I usually want the minimum heat to maintain pressure. The simmer on my Bosch cooktop is really good.

      3. That's something that varies from stove to stove -- even the same make and model may vary from installation to installation.

        I go by power setting (no option) -- but using your other senses is crucial to finding the "perfect" setting.

        1. In my experience, every stove has a learning curve until you can do it by instinct. It sounds like you are learning your stove but I am not sure others can help you with this over the internet. Good discussion topic though.

          1. Hi, Ray:

            I suggest that the real answer to your question can be found (that is, learned) not in the hob, but in the food.

            As you note, settings are often at least one step removed from complete sensory perception. Gas is the most directly perceived, followed by solid tops and the conventional electrics. With all of these, your hand held over the hob and the glow gives a personal baseline perception, the memory of which can be taken from hob to hob, appliance to appliance.

            A lot less so, though, with induction. There, you're more beholden to the tubercular glow of digital display, and less able to use your sense perception. I won't go so far as to say you're cooking blind, but it is this loss that causes me to consider induction cooking somewhat soulless.

            Now, this flight-by-numbers is perfectly fine if you've got *your* particular, semi-unique appliance/pan/prep/setting dialed in from experience, but there's little you can take with you if you move to using another kit. You're left with learning anew what setting variable in the equation is optimal on the next appliance. I find this vexing; I'd prefer just judging by the flame visually and with my hand.

            My sense of the induction temp/mode settings in following recipes is that they'd be great if the author had exactly the same kit as the reader. Otherwise not so much.

            Aloha,
            Kaleo

            38 Replies
            1. re: kaleokahu

              Hi Kaleo,

              As usual, a really thoughtful reply. As you've suggested, gas is the most sensual, in that one can both feel and see (and even hear) the changes, but induction does indirectly provide some feedback, through the temperature "feel" of the magnetized pot, and/or the changes in the liquids in the pan: that's how one spots the "perfect" simmer.

              I agree that the experience is not transferable from kitchen to kitchen--I'm definitely in the learning stage on mine right now.

              Ray

              1. re: drrayeye

                Hi, Ray:

                What do you mean by magnetized "feel"? Sensing the heat from the empty pan works in a way, e.g., for fried eggs. But if you're waiting to see from the food if the setting is off, the food can easily be off. This is OK with pancakes, less so with sauces, steaks, etc.

                Aloha,
                Kaleo

                1. re: kaleokahu

                  Hi Kaleo,

                  I mostly do pots or saucepans, so I can feel the temperature differences and changes from bottom to top. I often rely on the visible changes of the liquids in fry pans. I agree, waiting for changes in the food itself may be too late.

              2. re: kaleokahu

                Actually this does not jibe with my experience. The induction has very quick response, and I am learning to judge how the food looks in the pot as I regulate the heat quite well. I do think that this is a learning experience, and it will differ with cooktop or stove, pot and food. I don't judge temps by anything except observation of food in the pot, and I don't know why it is less "sensual"--whatever that means, than using gas.

                1. re: sueatmo

                  Hi, sue:

                  So you set a number and then watch the food, and adjust as necessary.

                  On gas, I adjust the flame to the height I want it, and then watch both the flame and the food. On wood/coal, it's the flat of my hand, and move the pan. No need to wear readers or wear out my index finger poking buttons.

                  I didn't use the word 'sensual', but it sorta fits. I just prefer cooking feeling the heat, smelling the woodsmoke, etc. 'Analog' doesn't captue it well either, maybe Old School?

                  Aloha,
                  Kaleo

                2. re: kaleokahu

                  Hi K,

                  You make some good points, but I think you're a little bit off the mark. IME, the ability to perceive what heat is required for a simmer (our example) does vary quite a bit depending on the pan being used, as others have pointed out. Cheap thin aluminum will scorch a sauce over the same flame that barely maintains a simmer in a thick clad pan. So knowing how much heat is put out by a given hob becomes just one part of the equation. How different pots and pans in the cook's batterie react to that heat is another part. This reinforces the notion that every cooking kit is unique, negating the advantage of feeling the heat.

                  Also, consider that we often want to simmer AFTER doing something else in the pan, such as boiling or sautéing. Here, response is king, and induction moves right up there with gas. And seriously, are you going to take the pan off the heat so you can check it with your hand? Or are you going to lower the heat and watch the food in the pan?

                  Would you please explain what you mean by "tubercular glow"? I've always taken it to mean a weak sickly light. Well, my indicator lights are bright red. You seem to be laboring under the impression that digital displays are terrible things, signaling the apocalypse. I know you fancy yourself a luddite of sorts, but Dude? You're fluent in computer. Rumor has it you even broke down and bought a smart phone. Have we had this discussion before? Yeah, I thought so.

                  When it comes to numbered settings, this is a common device on all electric hobs, be they coil, radiant or induction. Induction uses touchpads, not knobs, which seems to be part of your objection. Those knobs on electric ranges are just as stepped as induction's touchpad, but usually with far fewer steps. If Vollrath's temp settings are accurate, Ray may have the best setup of all of us.

                  I think if you can view things dispassionately, you'll realize that gas and induction hobs have more in common than you think. Unless you think judging temperature by feel is more important than quick response and lots of heat settings.

                  Happy Labor Day,

                  Duffy

                  1. re: DuffyH

                    Hi, Duffy:

                    I associate LED displays with a weak blue color, hence tubercular. But I understand that is not so ubiquitous as it once was.

                    I think simmering is not the aptest general case for this subject, since most cooks start with the amp at 11 and then adjust by Braille anyway. However, I just find it easier (and more fun) to adjust by flame height than watching a numerical display. You may like it the other way around.

                    Now, I will grant you that, for *repeatability*, if you know that "47" equates with a good simmer in the daily 1G batch of stock in the same pan, dialing that number in near the boil would be precise. But I still would consider it a paint-by-numbers exercise, Luddite that I am.

                    Happy LD to you, too.

                    Aloha.
                    Kaleo

                    PS: Actually, on the woodstove, I do move the pan to the spot where my hand tells me is right. Hand first, then move.

                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      Hi K,

                      I've been thinking about this topic, and I think that if you consider some of the other ways we use sight when cooking, you may want to reconsider the "soulless" moniker you've hung on induction. We watch the bubbles in the liquid, we look at the oil in a skillet, we pretty much do what you do, except for that one little thing. We engage our other senses in exactly the ways you do with gas. Yet the inability to adjust a flame renders induction soulless?

                      The height of the flame as a measure of heat level is imperfect. Diameter matters, too. A 4" burner and a 2" burner can have the same height flame, yet they put out different amounts of heat. Some even have different shapes. So there's that thing about each cooker being unique again. It applies to all forms. Even your wood stove will be different than someone else's, depending on the amount of fuel you add, right?

                      I can't understand why you place more importance on dials, steps, red glowing glass, and flames than you do on how the darn things cook. A stove or cooktop is about the cooking, right? To me that means being able to change the heat under a pot and have the pot respond to what I've done. Coil and radiant, no matter how "soulful" they may be, have poor downward response and are not as easy to cook on as an induction range. And that, I think, is a demonstrable fact.

                      There are many reasons to avoid induction. Cost, lack of a 220 outlet, comfort/satisfaction with another form, those are all valid. I think it's a little bit shortsighted to ascribe an imaginary magical property to a kitchen appliance and avoid induction because of it. It's even worse to choose one that doesn't work as well based on that one thing.

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            Oh, hi, sunshine. Are your LEDs blue or red?

                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              Red. Regular glass cooktop, not induction.

                              Knobs to select level...after a week or so, a total non-issue to figure out the correct level to get a "perfect" simmer, whatever that means.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                Hi Sunshine842,

                                Here's a video that shows a "perfect simmer"

                                http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.co...

                                Boiling is bad; warming is not enough.

                                Ray

                                1. re: drrayeye

                                  Hi, Ray:

                                  Sarah lost me when she says: "You really don't want it simmering."

                                  One cook's perfect simmer is far from another's Goldilocks Point. Do real chefs go by what's happening on the surface, or by the convection currents that the stock's contents make visible? Obviously, convection in stocks starts happening at temps at which nary a burble occurs.

                                  Finding what is perfect for you is always good, but letting the ideal get in the way of the good can get anal retentive. Unless you're in a consomme competition, in which case you also need a spigoted stocker. Avoiding boiling is intended for clarity and to slow evaporation while maximizing extraction of the good stuff. IMO, there's a lot of latitude.

                                  Aloha,
                                  Kaleo

                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                    "One cook's perfect simmer is far from another's Goldilocks Point."

                                    Thank you. THAT is my point.

                                    Kinda like defining "best", "traditional", or "authentic"

                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                      Hi Kaleo,

                                      My 7 1/2 qt. Le Creuset bouillabaisse pot is made to produce Windsor like convection currents, whereas my 6 qt. Staub coq au vin pot is more traditional oval. I could generate the same "perfect simmer" at the same 200 degree induction temperature for both.

                                      Getting approximate sloppy simmers that change a bit every time you return, and may lead to quite different dish by dish consequences, may not matter to some.

                                      I can always deviate if I choose, but at least I have a clear definition in mind that I can reliably achieve by sight and repeat on a temperature scale. What you don't know can hurt you.

                                      Ray

                                      1. re: drrayeye

                                        "sloppy simmers"?

                                        Keep this all in perspective...mankind has somehow managed to feed himself for millions of years with sloppy simmers -- Cooking just isn't that precise.

                            2. re: kaleokahu

                              Hi Kaleo,

                              <Thou doest protest too much..>

                              Nah. You know I like gas ranges just fine and would never suggest someone trade out a perfectly good for induction. Performance-wise, I find them more or less equal. Each has minor advantages over the other that I think cancel out in the long run.

                              You also know that your preference for coil and radiant over induction has nothing to do with performance, and everything to do with how the heat is generated. And that's just goofy, coming from a dude who is often very data-driven, and for whom performance matters.

                              Duffy

                              1. re: DuffyH

                                Hi, Duffy:

                                I just draw no satisfaction from cooking on induction, despite its few minor advantages. I'm sure there are crane & trammel cooks who feel the same way about all stoves.

                                We all--even us goofy Luddites--have our limits when it comes to soullessness. The day is coming when we will have 3D food printers which will create our dishes from flavor and texture toners. No blood, no eggshells, no smell of woodsmoke, no sizzle, no sharp knives, no heat felt in the bones.

                                Where's your limit? And who will call that goofy?

                                Aloha,
                                Kaleo

                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  Hi K,

                                  My limit is when the food isn't good anymore. In the meantime, why should I deal with equipment that's harder to use? You wouldn't put up with a dull knife, why put up with an unresponsive cooktop? My goal is to produce the best food I can. Period. that requires downward quick response. I don't care what the form is, or what it looks like.

                                  Satisfaction is important, I agree. But I get no satisfaction at all when struggling, night after night, to get the right heat under a pan. That leads to frustration, which makes cooking a chore to be got through, rather than something pleasurable. The result is overcooked food and a pissed-off, tearful cook who feels compelled to apologize for inferior food. Why would I subject myself to that when there's an easy alternative?

                                  It's not as though I didn't give radiant heat a chance. I used it for 3 straight years, almost every day and night. The only way to approximate response on one (as suggested by cooks who use them) is to turn one hob to low, and one to high. Sear on one, then move the pan to the low one. That's not a feature, it's a work-around for an inherent flaw. A flaw that induction and gas don't have.

                                  I think that, in the end, I don't really care that you don't like induction. Why would I? It's not my concern. I do care, very much, that you say it is "soulless" and by extension, so is the food that's cooked on it. That I take personally.

                                  1. re: DuffyH

                                    No, no, no, I didn't say induction IS soulless, although that's my opinion FOR ME after having used it.

                                    It sort of surprises me that you subscribe to 100% outcome-based cooking. I tried to show that an automated Jetsonian cookery would offend the soul, but apparently your soul says "Bring it on", so long as the food's good. I subscribe to the metaphysic of food being more than what we eat, but what do I know?

                                    [Cue clip of Chuckles Heston letting people know what's in Soylent Green]

                                    Aloha,
                                    Kaleo

                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                      a replicator isn't cooking, any more than fast food or Hamburger Helper (although HH comes closer than a replicator.)

                                      An induction cooktop is simply a way of creating heat. Nothing more, nothing less.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        The Jetson box will also heat, I presume. And who wants to have to grow/prep/handle things when you have that delicious food toner just a barcode away?

                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                          I'm certain that our forebears had the same topic about making fire...then about creating cooking vessels rather than sticks over the fire...then about clay ovens, and then about fireplaces...

                                          But the reality is that it's still just. a. heat. source.

                                          it's not witchcraft or a black art. It's just heat.

                                          (and it's ironic that we're having this discussion on flickering electronic screens. Odd that you can justify email but not heat.)

                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                            Actually, sunshine, it's not a heat source at all.

                                            It's (IMO, IMO, IMO) at least one step removed from being a heat source. It's an agglomeration of hidden magnets, wires, semiconductors, sensors, displays, software and touchpads.

                                            It puts us at physical, sensory, psychological and--IMO--emotional distances from the cooking of our forebears. This may further piss you off, but IMO, IMO, it *desensitizes* people to the totality of cooking. You may applaud this, I don't know.

                                            Your point about electronic discourse is not exactly advancing your case.

                                            Aloha,
                                            Kaleo

                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                              <This may further piss you off, but IMO, IMO, it *desensitizes* people to the totality of cooking>

                                              What IS "the totality of cooking"? To me, "totality" implies the whole of the experience, not just one small aspect of it. In my experience, using an induction cooker is like driving a sports car, using a radiant range is like driving a family sedan. The sports car gives excellent feedback and responds to my every command. The family sedan makes me feel like a passenger, with it's sluggish acceleration, body roll and overall lack of road feel.

                                              I feel as though I'm far more a part of, and an active director of the process when cooking on induction and gas. I'm in charge of, rather than at the mercy of, my range.

                                              1. re: DuffyH

                                                I think we need to stage a ritual destruction of your old radiant range. If I could, I'd crawl my steamroller all the way to FL and crush that sucker for you.

                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                  Thank you. The beast has gone to a better place than it deserves, donated to our local ReStore shop. I hope that someone who likes it or needs it can make better use of it than I ever could.

                                                  I'm impressed that you have a steamroller. It's one of the few pieces of large equipment I'd like to drive. Not as fast as my bimmer, but I can think of some uses for it.

                                                  I don't use any power tools bigger than an electric screwdriver. Man things scare the shit out of me; this would be a big thing for me.

                                                2. re: DuffyH

                                                  'Consider the fork', a book about the history of cooking and cooking technology, considers the introduction of gas cooking as the biggest change in heat sources. The cast iron range, whether wood or coal fired, just contained the fire, but it was a just a modest step from the open hearth. But with a gas burner, the heat source was at the cook's beck and call - instantly available, and instantly shut off.

                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                    Hi Paulj,

                                                    During our analog era, the gas stovetop reigned supreme. But changes in temperature didn't directly link to changes in gas flow--even with jets that came on at specific levels: that just made temperature increases uneven and irregular. Even the artistry of the cook/chef could not always find the right workarounds. Then came both a new digital era and computer chips.

                                                    That provided an entry point for electric ovens to evolve into convection and then convection/microwave alternatives with digital control. Add a computer chip, electronics, and some sensors, and you have an induction stovetop which can emulate all of the wonderful analog characteristics of gas in a new digital environment.

                                                    The induction era began some time ago in Asia, but not so much here. I'm at least one person who has gone induction/convection--and I'm loving it.

                                                    Ray

                                            2. re: kaleokahu

                                              <And who wants to have to grow/prep/handle things when you have that delicious food toner just a barcode away?>

                                              So it's like eating out, at home.

                                            3. re: sunshine842

                                              Hi Sunshine842,

                                              That's not been my experience. Induction has changed both how I cook and what I cook.

                                              I suppose you'd say that badminton is just another way to play tennis, and a violin is just another way to make noise

                                              1. re: drrayeye

                                                those are not relevant comparisons.

                                                You didn't need the induction to cook -- you would have learned the same skills with any other stove, whether it was electric coils or glass cooktop or gas (or kaleo's lovely wood stove).

                                                But they all do one thing that makes cooking possible: they make heat.

                                                The fact that one is gauged by the palm of one's hand and the other by whiz-bang digital displays doesn't change the central function by a single iota.

                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                  Hi sunshine,

                                                  I have to agree with Ray and say that induction did change how and what I cook. Cooking on gas, I was able to cook my food, lots of sautés, pan-fried stuff, quick sauces.

                                                  On radiant heat, that changed, because I wasn't able to master the cooker and so had to change my food a bit. I made more things in the slow cooker and oven, and more soups and chills. Anything that didn't depend on rapid temperature changes. In summer we grill, so that was still normal. Now I'm back to what I like, and it's better than ever, because the experience with radiant focused my skills.

                                                  My summer cooking has changed, definitely. It's no longer too hot to cook in the kitchen, and we're only grilling ~2 nights a week, vs the 5-6meals we grilled in prior summers here.

                                              2. re: sunshine842

                                                Hi sunshine,

                                                I once burned homemade HH on my radiant range. :-(

                                                Millions of cooks turn out really good food on radiant ranges every day of the week. I've eaten some of it. My kid does it, no problem. He cooks a lot of food in cast iron, which is kind of perfectly mated to electric ranges.

                                                I wish I had been one of those cooks, it would have saved me the cost of a new range. It just wasn't meant to be.

                                                I do like your take on what induction is. Very simple.

                                                D

                                              3. re: kaleokahu

                                                Minor point, but if your opinion of induction is that is soulless, as stated by you previously

                                                < I (I, as in "just me" and IMO) find it soulless.> http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9286...

                                                then it follows that food produced via induction is, in your opinion, lacking in soul. That hurts.

                                                Outcome is the most important aspect of cooking, at least for someone who does it 2-3 times a day, as I do. Other things count, too. But in the end, food has to taste good or it's wasted effort. Perhaps my cooking would have more soul if I did it over a fire, with sticks. That's how I view using a radiant range. What good did it do me to carefully select the menu, choose the ingredients, prep everything, and then present shitty overcooked food? Surely you don't think this is preferable or even equal to doing all those things and also turning out good food? I assure you the Dude was thrilled the day the induction range was installed and the quality of the stuff coming from the kitchen improved. So did the temperament of the cook.

                                                I dont recall anyone in Soylent Green raving about how good it was. Nor did they disclose how it was prepared.

                                                1. re: DuffyH

                                                  Hi, Duffy:

                                                  The connection between goofy, Luddite me finding a mode of cooking to be soulless and the food produced thereby being soulless is, in a word, eluctible. Nary the twain shall meet.

                                                  I think great food can be and is cooked that way, and by passionate and excellent cooks. If I have ever given you a contrary notion, I apologize.

                                                  As I think you've said, if cooking is not rewarding in ways other than base nourishment, cooks aren't happy. If induction has made you a happy cook, and that opens doors for you, that's fantastic. I'm sure what you put sur la table is chockablock full of soul.

                                                  For me (JUST FOR ME) if I had to always cook on induction, the stars just wouldn't be as bright--it would be more like merely feeding people.

                                                  Aloha,
                                                  Kaleo

                                    2. re: kaleokahu

                                      Consider the Fork, Bee Wilson, has this list of the daily duties of a 1912 housewife (with a cast iron range)

                                      - Remove fender and fire-irons
                                      - Rake out all the ashes and cinders; first throw in some damp tea leaves to keep down the dust
                                      - sift the cinders
                                      - clean the flues
                                      - remove all grease from the stove with newspaper
                                      - polish the steels with bathbrick and paraffin
                                      - blacklead the iron parts and polish
                                      - wash the hearthstone and polish it.
                                      - [start breakfast...]

                                2. <My Vollrath Cadet has 20 levels of power or 10 degree temperature changes from 150 degrees to 400 degrees. Two different scales.>

                                  It really depends if they have done a good job. Assuming they have (which is not necessary the case), temperature is what is more important because you want to cook your food at a particular temperature. However, I know a lot of digital stoves do not do a very good job at this in practice. In practice, you may end up using power.

                                  <What temperatures correspond to low, medium, or high? >

                                  There is no straight translation equation for that. It all depends on your cookware and foods...etc.

                                  <How does one obtain a perfect simmer?>

                                  Just below the boiling temperature of whatever medium you are using.

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    Hi Chemicalkinetics,

                                    Vollrath has 10 degree sensitivity for the Cadet, and 3 degree sensitivity for the Pro. The software design is very good.

                                    I know where the "perfect" simmer is--I want to know how you get there--and how you repeat that same point, time after time.

                                    Ray

                                    1. re: drrayeye

                                      <Vollrath has 10 degree sensitivity for the Cadet, and 3 degree sensitivity for the Pro. >

                                      That is what it says it can do, but have you noticed that it in fact able to deliver that?

                                      <I know where the "perfect" simmer is--I want to know how you get there--and how you repeat that same point, time after time.>

                                      Ah, somewhat by experience, but also visual monitoring. For example, the power required to simmer a 6 quart of water is not the same as the power of simmer a 1 quart of water....etc. This pot will take more energy than that pot...etc.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        Hi Chemicalkinetics,

                                        Of course, Vollrath delivers. The Vollrath Cadet is a commercial unit, designed to meet commercial standards. There are many applications at restaurants that require such precision--and I'm taking full advantage of that level of quality in my empty nester kitchen.

                                        I fully understand the difficulties of locating a perfect simmer. That's why I asked the question. You haven't yet given a specific example that explains how you find a perfect simmer (under any circumstances) that you can reliably return to over and over.

                                        I need something specific, clear, and practical.

                                        1. re: drrayeye

                                          Hi Ray,

                                          <I need something specific, clear, and practical.>

                                          I googled "simmer temperature" and came up with this Wiki explanation - "To keep a pot simmering, one brings it to a boil and then reduces the heat to a point where the formation of bubbles has almost ceased, typically a water temperature of about 94 °C (200 °F)."

                                          But the next paragraph contains this - "The appropriate simmering temperature is a topic of debate among chefs, with some contending that a simmer is as low as 82 °C (180 °F)."

                                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simmering

                                          I looked at 5 or 6 other sites and all agreed that 180ºF is the floor for simmering, with most offering a ceiling of 190º-200ºF, one outlier going up to 205ºF.

                                          Anyway, I'd say this gives you a starting point. Boil it, then reduce it to somewhere between 82(180) - 94(200). You might to be able to dial in your perfect simmer from there. Good luck!

                                          Duffy

                                          1. re: DuffyH

                                            Hi Duffy,

                                            With my 7 1/2 qt. bouillabaisse pot and my 6 qt. coq au vin pot nearly full, a perfect repeatable simmer was 200 degrees: warming at 190 and boiling at 210.

                                            Great control.

                                            Ray

                                            1. re: drrayeye

                                              Hi Ray,

                                              So glad you found your happy simmer. Is that covered or uncovered? I still struggle with tomato sauce for pasta. Uncovered, I only want it warm, or it sometimes pops a bubble onto my backsplash, counter or cooktop. I usually cover it and take it up a half step, but remove the cover very, very carefully. Even barely simmering, with a bubble every minute or so, the air in the bubble wants OUT!

                                              I shouldn't complain, really. That sauce is the only thing that does that. Other liquids are better behaved.

                                              Duffy

                                              1. re: DuffyH

                                                Hi Duffy,

                                                I check uncovered, look, go "sniff sniff" then put the lid back on.

                                                Ray

                                          2. re: drrayeye

                                            <I need something specific, clear, and practical.>

                                            Visual.

                                            I more or less know approximately where my last few simmer settings. I run the stove to a slightly higher dial. Bring it to a slow boil and then bring it down.

                                            After that, it is all about visual check ever once or twice.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              Thanks, Chemicalkinetics,

                                              That's very helpful.

                                              Ray

                                    2. I have a Max Burton induction; 10 power settings, temp settings are 40F apart.

                                      I rarely use the temperature settings. For one thing the spacing is too wide. Temperature is measured under the glass in the middle of top; but the temperature that matters is in the food in the pan. In crude tests there seems to be a 20 deg difference between the two.

                                      The simplest temperature to test is boiling of water. Assuming you are close to sealevel, that is 212F. What temp setting keeps it there? As long as there is water in the pot, it isn't going to get hotter than that. It will just boil more vigorously with a higher power settings.

                                      '5' is the default power setting. That is fine for boiling water for my coffee. If I am in a rush to boil water I may use a high level; but usually I lower the power. '3' sautes onions rapidly; '2' is better if I can't stir and watch. '2' and '1' visibly cycle on and off. I wish it had yet another power setting below '1'.

                                      Mostly I cook by ear - by the sound (and appearance) of the cooking food. In particular I listen for the sizzle, and adjust power accordingly. The noise of the induction cooling fan is something of a hinderance when cooking like this.

                                      For deep fat frying good cookbooks are quite specific (e.g. 375). If you don't have a thermometer, there are ways of testing temperature with a food sample.

                                      Cookbooks give 'dancing water' tests for cooking things like pancakes. I prefer to use by coil burner for pancakes, since I know where to set the dial (from experience). Coil heat is steady. The induction power settings are too coarse to get the right pancake temperature.

                                      In general I use the induction burner where I want quick response, and coil for steady temperatures. An oven is also good for steady heat.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: paulj

                                        Hi paulj,

                                        <Coil heat is steady. The induction power settings are too coarse to get the right pancake temperature.>

                                        I don't understand. Are you saying it's a limitation of your particular unit's 10 settings? That one is too low and the next up is too high? I have no trouble getting steady heat on my range, but I do have 19 settings per hob.

                                        1. re: DuffyH

                                          Right, one power setting is too low, the next is too high. It's been a while since I test this, but I think I need level between '2' and '3'. I don't recall if I tried the temperature settings for this or not.

                                          1. re: paulj

                                            Got it. That would be a nuisance for sure.

                                      2. My SO is an engineer.

                                        He occasionally uses the crockpot. Or the grill.

                                        Otherwise he leaves all cooking to me.

                                        Seriously, cooking can drive an engineer/scientist ~crazy~.

                                        Unless you truly enjoy your time in the kitchen, you should hire out.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: pedalfaster

                                          SO also suggested ~baking~ vs. cooking, if you need an outlet.

                                          You can ~weigh~ the flour and other ingredients. Calibrate the oven temp. Etc.

                                          1. re: pedalfaster

                                            That's why I seldom bake anything except a pizza. My brownies and cupcakes come from a box. Baking is too precise, with often very small matings for error.

                                            Cooking is more organic, more oh, well, no big deal. And forgiving! This is much of it's appeal to me. Even when it's wrong, it can be very right.

                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                            Hi Caroline,

                                            What have you found are the effective min/max pan sizes? The Mirage is one unit that gets almost universal raves. It's got some great features, especially those 100 presets.

                                            1. re: DuffyH

                                              So far a 12" diameter pan is the largest, with no discernable problems. I've written a lot about it here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/987590

                                            2. re: Caroline1

                                              Thanks, Caroline1,

                                              I still haven't made it to the Vollrath pro yet, but I'm really enjoying my Cadet. I bought a Max Burton for my son. I'm still learning, but I'm having lots of fun.

                                              Ray