Induction stovetops offer a revolutionary way to cook and are rapidly gaining in popularity. Induction cooking is faster, more efficient, safer, and even easier to clean up after than traditional methods.
But how do you go about choosing the best induction cookware for this new kind of cooking?
Before tackling that question we need to establish the basics.
What Is Induction Cooking?
Regular stovetops heat your pots and pans through direct contact with a flame or an electrical element. This process is known as thermal conduction.
Induction stovetops are different. They don’t generate any heat as such. Instead induction stovetops create a magnetic field between cookware and the copper induction coils beneath the cooking surface. The energy this creates in turn heats the contents of your pot or pan.
This more direct method of heating the pan rather than the hob, means cookware is up-to-heat that much more quickly than traditional cooking methods.
The Benefits of Induction Cooking Over Traditional methods—At a Glance
Speed—Induction cooking is as responsive as gas and precise as electric. It heats up and cools down faster.
Energy Efficient—Because induction transfers energy directly to cookware there is no heat loss.
Safety—Induction stovetops remain cool to the touch, making them a much safer cooking appliance.
Healthier—Electromagnetic energy is “cleaner” than traditional methods, improving the air quality in your kitchen. Induction is better for you and the environment.
Easier to Clean—Because the stovetop itself isn’t heated there’s no burnt-on food to worry about. Overflows and spills do not stick.
What Is Special About Induction Cookware?
Obviously the key to the induction process is magnetism. The best induction cookwareis made from a ferromagnetic material. Otherwise the whole oscillating magnetic field thing just doesn’t work.
So, in general, cast iron and magnetic stainless steel are in. Copper, aluminium, glass and pyrex cookware, on their own, are out.
That said, many manufacturers have started cladding or adding a magnetic layer to copper core and aluminium pans to make them suitable for induction stovetops. So the choice of materials has widened significantly.
But Can’t I Just Use The Cookware I Already Own?
In theory if it’s ferromagnetic, yes. To test suitability simply use any garden-variety magnet. If it sticks to the underside of your cookware then you’re good to go. If it doesn’t you might want to rethink. Obviously the better the magnet sticks the more efficiently your pot or pan will heat.
What To Look For In Induction Cookware Sets
The range of available cookware sets is vast. The price can vary just as greatly. So how do you go about sifting through the multitude to find the right induction-ready cookware for you? Well to begin with, consider your cooking style.
Generally speaking, heavy based pans are better suited to slow cooking methods. Cast iron and adapted aluminium take longer to heat up and on the whole give more consistent results. Think long cooking times for maximum flavour.
Conversely, lighter stainless steel cookware heats up very quickly, so is better suited to boiling or steaming dishes.
Other key points to consider when buying induction cookware are:
Induction cooking is rapidly growing in popularity. Cookware that is “induction ready” will almost certainly advertise the fact.
The best induction ready cookware is flat-bottomed. A flat base provides the most efficient contact with the magnetic field created by the induction stovetop. Pans with curved bottoms simply won’t work as well.
For consistent results and even cooking a flat base is essential.
The induction process can cause vibrations. Particularly at higher temperature settings. A heavy lid will keep things in check.
Match Pan Base to Cooking Zone
For optimum cooking efficiency it is best to match the diameter of the base of your pan with the induction stovetop cooking zone. This in turn increases the magnetic field and as a result the heat output.
Again to counter any vibrations in the induction cooking process it’s a good idea to look for sturdy heat-resistant handles that can comfortably cope with the high power setting of an induction stovetop.
Induction cooking makes an awful lot of sense. It combines the responsiveness of gas and the precision of electric to give you the next level in efficiency, modern convenience, and safety.
The right induction ready cookware will bring out the best in this technology and by extension your cooking. And with a look to match every kitchen, there’s really no excuse not to make the switch.