Induction Cooking 101
Induction cooking has long been a cooking method of choice for chefs worldwide, but only recently has demand driven prices down, making it an affordable choice for many restaurant owners. This flameless cooking introduces a host of benefits over its electric and gas counterparts, but many are still unsure if it’s the right choice for them. From understanding how it works to knowing what you’ll need, here are a few of the basics when it comes to induction burners.
So what exactly makes induction cooking different from electric or gas? Rather than using infrared radiation from electric coils or flames from gas stovetops, induction cooking utilizes magnetic current to create resistive heating. This makes for a flameless cooktop that in fact creates no physical heat at all unlike a hot plate. Only the pan generates heat, meaning that the surface below the cooking vessel stays a safe temperature. The benefits of this type of cooktop are lengthy:
Safety: Without an open flame and without a hot cooking surface, the induction range is safer than its counterparts. Also, these burners are wheelchair accessible because the user can pull right up to the range with legs underneath the counter and also extend their reach over the range.
Efficiency: Power is transferred directly to the cooking vessel, ensuring that no energy is lost in the process. The range detects when and where a pan is placed as well as how large the pan itself is, so you aren’t using too much or too little energy to heat the product. It has the precision of a gas burner without the open flame and without the immense input required of a gas burner. Less energy is lost to ambience, making it th most efficient of cooking ranges. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the efficiency of energy transfer for an induction cooker is 84%, versus 74% for a smooth-top non-induction electrical unit, for an approximate 12% saving in energy for the same amount of heat transfer.
Rapid Heating: Similar to a coil, induction burners provide quick, rapid heating. The bonus is that the heating is directed only at pans and pots that are placed on the range.
Cleanup: When foods spill over pans, they don’t burn to the range itself. This makes for easier cleanup at the end of the day, as you aren’t scrubbing scalded products off the range!
The downside to induction cooking is that you have to invest in pans that are compatible with induction burners. Glass and ceramics are unusable, as are solid copper or solid aluminum cookware for most models of cooker. Pots and skillets will need to be purchased specially for your unit in order to achieve maximum efficiency.
E Friedman Associates Inc
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