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Should you ditch the gas for an induction stove?

Safer, energy-saving and efficient, induction cooking might be the future

Induction cooking is safer and more energy efficient. (Ron Lach, Pexels)
Induction cooking is safer and more energy efficient. (Ron Lach, Pexels)

Induction stoves produce a field that transfers energy to the bottom of magnetic pots and pans, heating them up. That’s different from electric stoves, where an electric current heats up a burner that transfers heat to the pot. Even if your electricity provider is not 100% renewable, induction is still cleaner, because it’s more efficient. An average induction stove will heat food and liquids using from half to two‑thirds of the energy that a gas stove requires, according to one study.

It’s safer

When you buy an induction stove, all you have to do is plug it in. In most countries, regulations require kitchens with a gas stove to be equipped with additional ventilation (usually a hole in the wall covered by a grille) and yearly checks by professional technicians to make sure the stove isn’t leaking gas. And induction cools as soon as you take the pot away from the glass surface—no lingering hot burners

Food may taste different

In some cases you’ll have to adjust your cooking techniques. Sautéed food can be tricky because the stove automatically turns off every time you lift the pan from the cooktop (though some induction stoves include a sauté option). You can’t use clay pots for stews. (Even when using induction-friendly clay pots, the result is not the same as shaking a traditional clay pot above flames.) And you’ll have to find a new way of charring peppers.

Many top chefs have switched to induction in recent years, prompting the question: Could food actually taste better? Some say yes, because induction cooking is more precise than gas. Most induction stoves allow you to regulate the temperature at which you want water to boil, stews to stew, and oil to heat.

Also read: The science of microwave cooking

The proper equipment

Most pots and pans in stores these days are suitable for gas, electric, and induction stoves. If you’re switching to induction, you might have to replace that old stovetop espresso maker your mom gave you or the giant flat pan that burns the juices and rice at the bottom of a paella to the perfect degree of crunchiness.

Put it right on your counter

Forget about the old black square with four burners. Some of the latest induction models consist of a single burner across the whole stove. That means you can place as many pots as you want, wherever you want. Only the parts of the stove in contact with the pots will heat. A fancier option is an integrated induction stove, where the induction’s magnetic system is hidden (embedded, really) below a special ceramic countertop. Discrete buttons on one side allow you to regulate the heat just like with any other stove. Surprise your guests by cooking directly on your countertop.

Easier to clean

Because the surface is made of glass, you don’t normally need chemical-heavy cleaning products; a wet cloth will work. The surface may scratch more easily than a conventional electric range, requiring a more gentle touch when moving pans around.

Also read: The art and science of cutting vegetables for Indian cooking

Get used to touch controls

Just like mobile phones, induction stoves are becoming better at detecting precise movements. But wet, oily, or otherwise gunky fingers will confuse it. Better to keep a dry cloth on hand than to accidentally raise the temperature to maximum instead of lowering it to minimum at the critical point in your risotto.

You may need to spend more

The cost of induction ranges has dropped in recent years as the technology has become slightly more common. It’s now comparable to gas ranges, though induction still carries a price premium compared with conventional electric ranges. Price estimates vary by country. In the U.S., top-of-the-line 30-inch induction ranges may be a few hundred dollars more expensive than conventional models—and that’s before adding the possible cost of new magnetic cookware. In Spain, prices for gas and induction are roughly the same—about €550 ($645 or about 49000)—for middle-of-the-pack to high-end stoves.

Also read: The pressure cooker formula to simplify cooking

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