What is induction cooking?
Although induction cookers have been around for many years, they are rapidly gaining popularity as the technology becomes more and more affordable. Fans evangelise about their precision, power, safety and energy efficiency. What’s so special about the induction cooker and how exactly does it work?
Cooking on an induction hob is unlike cooking over gas or an electric stove. The main difference is that heat is generated directly in the pot or pan and not by the stove top or by burning gas. Induction technology turns the base of the pot into the ‘cooker’ and the hob itself does not generate heat. This is because the induction hob is a powerful electromagnet. When it comes into contact with an induction pot (which is a pot with magnetic properties), the combination produces a magnetic field that generates heat in the pot. When this field is broken (i.e. the pot is removed from the hob), no heat is generated.
A number of brands produce induction cookware. You can, however, check whether your much-loved, old pots will work by testing if a fridge magnet will stick to their base.
The results of induction cooking are pretty impressive:
Energy efficiency: Induction cooking uses less energy than cooking with electricity or gas as energy is not wasted heating up the stove/burner and then the pot. Instead, energy goes straight into the pot. According to a UK-based trade magazine, Caterer, when using an induction hob, more than 90% of every pound spent on energy goes straight to the pan. Gas delivers less than 50% and traditional electric less than 60%.
Induction cooking will only work if the hob is in contact with the pot: if the hob is turned to maximum but there is no pot, no heat will be produced. This means that there is no wasting energy by leaving the stove on or the gas burning.
Precision: Induction hobs are highly responsive. The strength of the electromagnetic field can be easily controlled, meaning you have more control over the temperature although it may take you a while to get used to. There’s no checking under the pot to see how high the flame is or stoking the Aga with more fuel.
Power: The heat is almost instantaneous. The pot and whatever is inside it, heats up at lightening speed (well, almost).
Magical things: If the hob is turned to maximum but there is no pot in contact with it, you can put your hand on the hob and will feel no heat because no magnetic field will be produced.
If you are keen to know more about the science behind induction, check out www.theinductionsite.com. A few of the popular cookware brands producing world class induction cookware include Le Creuset, Swiss Diamond, Scanpan & Fissler.
We’re excited about this technology and will be testing it out in the weeks to come. So keep your eyes peeled on Spatula.co.za. Who knows, in a few years we may well look back on our fancy electric and gas stoves and wonder how on earth we survived without the miracles of induction.