We want to get rid of our electric stove. It’s impossible to regulate the heat and it fluctuates between hot and cold without even turning a knob. Sometimes, I think we have a family of gremlins living under the burners playing head games with us.
We originally wanted to switch to gas and get one of those wonderful gas ovens everyone is raving about like the Viking, Bluestar or Wolf. Every serious cook prefers gas over electric, right? Maybe not.
There’s a new sheriff in town and it’s called ‘induction’. Chefs are saying that what the cell phone did for telecommunications, induction cooking is now doing for the food industry. That’s a pretty powerful statement. Another owner of a new induction oven made this claim. “It was like I had driven a VW Beetle my whole life and someone suddenly handed me the keys to a Ferrari.”
Can the induction oven live up to its boastful reputation and does it have the goods to back up the claim? Let’s find out what all this fuss and excitement about.
How does it Work?
The technology for magnetic induction cooking has been around for a long time but only in recent years has it been embraced by chefs in Europe and Japan and has made its way to the U.S. as a real contender for professional grade gas ovens for home cooks.
The Wikipedia definition got complicated quickly with eddy currents and oscillating magnetic fields. After a little sleuthing I found an explanation even my fifteen year old would understand. Here it is:
An induction-cooker element (what on a gas stove would be called a “burner”) is a powerful, high-frequency electromagnet, with the electromagnetism generated by sophisticated electronics in the “element” under the unit’s ceramic surface. When a good-sized piece of magnetic material–such as – a cast-iron skillet–is placed in the magnetic field that the element is generating, the field transfers (“induces”) energy into that metal. That transferred energy causes the metal–the cooking vessel–to become hot. By controlling the strength of the electromagnetic field, we can control the amount of heat being generated in the cooking vessel–and we can change that amount instantaneously. Full explanation here.
As with any big-ticket purchase you can expect a list of pros and cons and induction cooktops is no exception. Let’s get started.