That is the exact same question we asked ourselves when we remodeled our kitchen a few years ago; “What is an Induction Cooktop?”
Induction cooktops or induction ranges have become affordable and have deservedly grown in popularity over recent years. After years of living with a slow electric cooker we fully intended to change to a gas cooktop when the kitchen was remodeled but a little research soon convinced us that induction cooktops are far superior.
We went for a basic Bosch Induction Cooktop, although they have developed even better since.
The first obvious advantage of induction cookers over gas cookers, halogen cooktops and ceramic cooktops is that of safety – especially important if there are children or elderly users to consider. The induction cooktop works by using magnetism to heat the pan itself – the rings do not heat up – consequently the risk of burns from naked flames and hot surfaces is reduced to practically zero. (There is some residual heat when a pan is lifted off but this is nothing like the temperature of a conventional cooktop).
Still on the subject of safety, even when switched on, an induction ring only starts to work when a suitable metal pan is placed on it, so no worries about a stray spoon left on the cooktop becoming dangerously hot. Also, the induction rings automatically switch off after a short delay when a pan has been removed, so no more forgetting to switch the cooker off.
Another advantage of the induction cooktop not getting hot itself is ease of cleaning. It is possible to wipe splashes up during cooking without any danger at all and the whole cooktop can be wiped over in seconds as soon as you take the pans off. Food splashes and spills do not stick to the surface of the induction cooker as it remains cool, so no more time wasted dismantling gas cooktops or using abrasives and chemicals to remove stubborn, burnt on food residue.
Induction cooking is also very economical. You are only using the energy you need to heat a pan, virtually no heat is wasted.
We were warned that it would cost a fortune to buy new pans for the induction cooktop (cookware must have a high iron content) but this proved to be completely wrong. All you need is a magnet or a fridge magnet – if it sticks firmly to the base of a pan, the pan will be perfect for induction cooking. Take two minutes to test all your pans and you may be surprised to find how many of them can be used on an induction cooktop – some cheap ones as well as expensive cast iron cookware such as Le Creuset were all fine. Manufacturers are producing more and more cookware suitable for use on induction cooktops and we were able to buy the one or two extra pans needed at very reasonable cost from a supermarket.
If you have a special pan that will not work on an induction cooker, it is possible to purchase an induction cooking adapter, which is a cast iron plate to sit on the cooktop. The idea is that the plate gets hot and will heat any pan placed on top of it. These do work, but you lose many of the advantages of speed and safety as the plate gets extremely hot and takes a long time to cool – perhaps better just to buy a new pan.
Induction cookers come in a variety of designs, with rings of different shapes and sizes. Our Bosch induction cooktop is a basic four ring model, the largest ring being 21 cm diameter and has proved to be an excellent buy. It is possible to buy models with extra-large or specially shaped rings for fish kettles, but think carefully about how much you will actually use these features before going to the extra expense.
We love to cook and am delighted with our new induction cooktop and thoroughly recommend induction cookers.
The British Heart Foundation warn that Induction cooktops may not be suitable for people with a pacemaker fitted because of the powerful electromagnetic field and that they should not go closer than 60 cm