What are the pros and cons of the new generation induction cooktops compared to gas hobs? I've used both and as a very average domestic goddess find induction quick, clean and easily controlled. However my friends who are much superior in the culinary field tell me gas is the only way to go, citing the fact that any restaurant or chef worth their salt always cooks on gas. Why are gas hob cook top creations better than induction equivalents?
- Many thanks Fiona
Induction hobs are terrific - and your friends who are telling you that you should only cook with gas need to rethink their opinion.
Gas hobs are definitely superior to electrical hobs, but induction is in many ways superior to gas. What chefs love about gas is the speed at which you can increase or cool the heat under a pan - it's instant. Induction is exactly the same.
However, one advantage that induction has over gas is the minimal heat that escapes. This is great in summer, keeping your kitchen cool, and great in keeping your utility bills low.
Many top restaurant kitchens around the world have been switching all, or at least some, of their stove tops to induction because it lowers the heat in the kitchen, it doesn't need such powerful ventilation (as there is no chance of a burst gas pipe) and it's also quieter - gas is surprisingly noisy.
The reason induction is cooleris because it works by magnetism: the electric current produced by copper coils under the ceramic or glass top heats only the metal, by agitating the electrons in the metal - friction causes the heat to build up.
The only heat generated is where the base of the pan is in contact with the copper coil below - so unlike a wide gas or electric ring where heat often leaks out all around the pan, in induction cooking the hot spot on the hob will be exactly the same size and shape of the pan.
This means less heat being transferred to the room, less wastage of energy, and far more efficiency.
The other great thing is that as soon as you lift the pot off the hob the current is broken and so no more heat is produced - just like turning the gas off. So burns, while they can still happen, will be far less severe than those produced when leaving an electric element turned on.
However, this also means that only certain pots and pans will be suitable for induction cookers and the rule of thumb is that if a magnet will stick to the base of the pan, then it's likely it will be suitable for use.
Pots and pans will need to be made of a ferromagnetic metal, or have layers of it in the body of the pan. And this is why I believe this style of cooking hasn't caught on as quickly as it should - people may have to ditch all their old pots and pans and restock the cupboards.
Manufacturers now pretty much always advertise which pots are suitable for the various cooking methods so you won't be wanting for choice.
Between my The Providores and Kopapa restaurants in London we have three portable induction hobs - and I, for one, can't sing their praise enough!
* To ask Peter a question, click on the Email Peter link below.