The hottest trend (pun intended) in home cooking these days is a smooth-surfaced cooktop that’s sleek in appearance, extremely energy efficient, and yet has the precision control that serious home chefs love.
All this features can be found in the induction cooktop, which is catching on as the latest innovation in kitchen design. Although these cooktops have been available for many years in commercial kitchens, they’ve only recently been more available for the home. Prices have dropped and more models are coming on the market, and from a greater number of manufacturers.
Induction cooktops have several advantages over traditional electric or gas cooktops. Like gas, induction is great for cooking. Unlike gas, induction cooktops have an easy-to-clean flat surface that many people find aesthetically pleasing.
Induction cooktops may look like other electric-powered ceramic glass cooktops, but offer better control over temperature and quicker heating than other types of electric cooktops, which are often hard to adjust and slow to warm.
Induction cooktops allow you to adjust the cooking heat instantly and precisely, allowing for very low heat cooking, for example. The responsiveness is similar to gas cooking, but without the heat and vapors that can be associated with gas. Also, for homeowners who don’t have a gas or propane supply, this type of cooktop offers a better alternative to other types of electric cooktops.
Additionally – and this is a big plus for people with small children – you can’t burn yourself on an induction cooktop. The only things that heat up on its surface are ferrous metals, such as cast iron, enameled steel and stainless steel, which respond to the magnetic field generated by the cooktop.
Induction cooking is quite different from traditional electric or gas cooking. This cooktop doesn’t heat the pan, as the older methods do; instead, the magnetic field of the cooktop excites iron molecules in the pan, making the pan itself the source of the heat that cooks the food. Very little heat is actually generated by the cooktop.
This magnetic field is also what makes induction cooktops so energy efficient. The energy is applied directly to the bottom of the pot or pan, with little waste; this focus of electricity keeps the kitchen cooler and energy costs lower.
Also, and just as important for design-conscious consumers, the sleek look of the cooktop surface fits well with contemporary kitchen styles, and is easier to clean than the nooks and crannies of traditional burners.
Induction cooktops can be found from a number of manufacturers these days, including GE, Kenmore, LG, Bosch, Jenn-Air, Viking and others; prices start around $1,300 and go up from there.