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What Is Induction Cooking?

And How is it Different Than Traditional Cooking?

By Kris Jensen-Van Heste

Q. What is induction cooking?

A. Induction cooking is one of the safest, most efficient and precise cooking methods available. Induction cooking employs an electromagnetic mechanism under the ceramic cooktop surface; when turned on, it generates an electromagnetic field that keeps the cooking surface cool while heating the cookware placed on it. Because of this, the cookware used must be made of iron or steel, which is magnetic. The magnetic quality of the cookware reacts and becomes part of the electrical circuit, gathers energy and becomes hot. Cookware made from Pyrex, aluminum or copper will not work with an induction system, because they do not contain iron.

Standard burners, whether gas or electric, heat up first, and in turn, warm the cookware. As the heat transfers from burner to cookware, there's significant heat loss. But with induction cooking, the heat is generated within the pot or pan itself and cooks the food directly. When the cookware is removed, the heat transfer stops immediately, because the "circuit" is broken.

There's no safer choice than an induction cooktop because the surface is always relatively cool, eliminating the danger of burns. Electric burners remain hot long after the power is turned off and don't offer the instantaneous temperature adjustment that gas and induction methods offer. And gas burners, though delightful to cook with, carry a daunting set of hazards, including but not limited to gas leaks and the danger of an open flame.

Induction cooking units are more expensive than conventional electric or gas cooktops, but are also more energy efficient.

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