The basic methods of cooking have remained the same throughout history – apply heat to food. Most cooking methods today are done in an oven or on a cook top, with the classic cook top being either gas or electric. However, a third option for cook top cooking is quickly growing in popularity: induction cooking.
Induction Cooking is the process of heating a cooking vessel (the pot or pan holding the food) through magnetic induction rather than from a flame or an electrical heating element.
Induction cooking was first introduced in the early 1900s, but struggled to grow in popularity due to high price tags and foreign technologies. Advances in technology and manufacturing in the last few decades have highlighted the advantages of induction cooking, and price tags have become more reasonable as competition increases.
The main difference between induction cooking and tradition cooking is how the food is heated. Traditional cooking requires heat – a flame or electrical heating element. A pan is set on this heat source, which heats the pan, and then heats the food inside. With induction cooking, the element itself does not warm. Instead, electromagnetic properties in the element interact with induction specific pans, which heats the pan, and then heats the food inside.
Induction cook tops are great solutions for many operations, but it is important to understand the good and the bad new equipment, and how they compare to that of traditional cooking options.
- Induction cooktops boil water almost twice as fast as a gas range. How? Induction captures about 90% of the heat generated in the pan compared to 40% and 70% with a gas and electric cooktop.
- With no flame, there are no grease fires. No combustion. No gas leaks. In a similar fashion, electric stove top elements get extremely hot and can easily burn operators.
- Induction cooktops only get warm because the pan is hot – just as any surface would that a hot pan is on.
- The smooth, ceramic-glass plate is easy to wipe down and the element stays relatively cool through the cooking process so food does not “burn” onto the element.
- Induction cooking requires specific cookware where the magnetic energy heats the pan, then heats the food. Traditional cooktops heat the element, which heats the pans, which heats the food. Less energy usage means lower utility bills.
- Gas cooking is often sought after because of the ability to easily control the heat to the food. Induction offers even more precise cooking than gas – no more burn spots!
Because the technology is relatively new, induction cooktops are more expensive than traditional cooktops. However, as the demand increases, more competition will increase efficiencies and drive the price down.
- Induction cooktops require specific cookware that contains iron that will react with the magnetic field.
- At high settings, the cooktop can make a hum or buzz sound from either the vibration from the magnetic field or a warped bottom of a pan.
- The glass top of induction cooktops is fragile just like an electric cooktop. Carefully set down heavy cookware and avoid sliding around cookware with a rough bottom.
- Because the technology is relatively new, repairs will be more expensive when necessary.
The needs of every operator are different and each type of cooktop has advantages and disadvantages. Still not sure if induction is the right choice for you? Speak with one of our helpful product consultants at 800.215.9293 and start browsing all induction products from top vendors with Central!
Hope has been a Content Specialist since November 2015, where she brings to the table years of experience in the food service industry in a variety of roles. Throughout her time with Central, Hope has focused on learned all things possible about everything from cooking equipment to concession and specialty products in order to empower operators with education on commercial equipment and supplies. Hope is a wife, new mom, avid crafter, and food lover (french fries please!).