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Cook-tops: gas and/or Induction?

83 posts in this topic

Seriously, if you have problems catching things on fire while using a gas stove, you need to be more careful. Get some silicon pot holders and stop using the dish towel as a hot pad.

 

I don't think silicon is the answer. In every restaurant kitchen I've seen a cotton side towel was draped over every pan handle. No pot holders to be seen. This is on ranges spewing many times the BTUs of any home range. 

 

I've got some scorched towels around here, but nothing dramatic. There may be something funny with the burners on that stove that's setting things on fire.

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There may be something funny with the burners on that stove that's setting things on fire.

 

It's not the cooktop.  It's because I'm so used to induction, where I could cook ON the dishtowel, that I forget there's a live flame under my pan.

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I'd love to hear what's a good and reliable model to choose these days.

 

@lindag, go to http://www.gardenweb.com and search on "induction" in "home".   Lots of models, lots of opinions.... 

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We looked seriously at induction when we renovated our kitchen a few years ago. There is much to like about induction but I like to bang pans around when I cook. Like, really slam them around. It did not seem that my preferred method of cooking would be compatible with a glass cooktop.

 

We installed a 36" Bluestar gas cooktop instead, and absolutely love it. When we move, we will be getting another Bluestar.

 

Edit: spelling


Edited by C. sapidus (log)

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We looked seriously at induction when we renovated our kitchen a few years ago. There is much to like about induction but I like to bang pans around when I cook. Like, really slam them around. It did not seem that my preferred method of cooking would be compatible with a glass cooktop.

We installed a 36" Bluestar gas cooktop instead, and absolutely love it. When we move, we will be getting another Bluestar.

Edit: spelling

Funny Bruce,

I've been known to bang loose a frittata or a corn bread on occasion and a glass top was not an option. The heavy cast iron crates can take a lot of abuse, don't show soilage easily

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I used to be firmly in the 'Gas'-camp. Having cooked on electric and ceramics (the ones with the heat lamps, not sure what you guys call them stateside), I was convinced any electric kind of cookery wouldn't be for me. However, as we got our new place in 2011, there was an B-brand induction unit in the installed kitchen - and with money pretty tight after some 'minor' refurbishing, I was kind-of forced to give it a go. Most pans turned out to work (think I threw out 2 that were leftovers of my student days), so that was a bonus.

 

At first, I found it to be acceptable: there is a bit of a learning curve as to what setting to use for which application, as opposed to 'just' judging flame size. I think it took me about a month to get the hang of it and I was 'quite ok' with using it.

 

Fast forward a couple of years: I decided to do some remodeling of the kitchen, as I REALLY hated the built-in electric oven. I decided I wanted a Neff oven due to its brilliant Slide 'n Hide door system which I saw on the Great British Bake off. As it turned out, the old induction hob didn't fit above the new oven, so I had to get a new hob as well. With both gas and proper electrics available, the choice was wholly open.

 

Being 'quite ok' with the induction setup and having been quite happy with gas in years before, I decided to go out and test some setups. Fortunately, there's a wealth of great kitchen stores in the area, and they were all happy to accommodate some testing during 'cook-ins' they organize. I'll save you the details, but at the end of the day, I ended up with induction, although it was a pretty close call: I still like gas a lot, especially for the 'oomph' it has, but I got a flex induction setup (also from Neff, also available in 90cm/36"), which gave me so much flexibility on the stove top, it won in the end. I don't have the space for it, but I wouldn't have mind a large, high BTU, wok-burner on the side - although I can reach pretty some awesome heat with the hob's 'Power'-setting - prawns just get done in an eye blink.

 

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem the Neff brand is available in the US. Bosch and Siemens have similar setups, though - and they come from the same BSH-manufacturing plant ;-)

 

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@lindag, go to http://www.gardenweb.com and search on "induction" in "home".   Lots of models, lots of opinions.... 

Thanks, Barb, I'll look in it. 

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MC did effeciency testing of Gas vs Electic Coil vs Induction.... and Induction is the most efficent - but not by leaps and bounds like some would say.

 

If you can put up with it's limitations it's pretty darn amazing.

 

I've got a 30" Thermadore induction cook top and from boiling water to searing it's got the power and the control.  The surface doesn't get crazy hot even when the poots sure do and if I really need to use a flame that's what a blow torch is for.

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When considering an expensive purchase with no experience, it would make sense to me to "try" it out.  One option I found is looking for induction burner on amazon.  There are lots with varying reviews, including many under $100.  

 

I have not tried yet, but I'm considering one to use for summer canning so I can work on the porch rather than heating/steaming the kitchen.

 

And it would give me an extra burner to pull out for those few times I need one.  One of the amazon reviewers said s/he puts it on the sink counter for when she needs quick/easy access to water.

 

I may be talking my self into one as I write. . . 

 

 

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I have both gasand induction. Once you get used to not seeing the flame I am firmly in the induction camp. Only issue is with portable units you are limited to 15 amp 110 V which does the job but takes its time with big pots if you have 220 40 Amp hang on for the rife it's SOO fast you will burn things at first.

Only thing induction can not do is light Flambés by just tilting the pan you will need a match.


Mike Macdonald Calgary

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I have both gasand induction. Once you get used to not seeing the flame I am firmly in the induction camp. Only issue is with portable units you are limited to 15 amp 110 V which does the job but takes its time with big pots if you have 220 40 Amp hang on for the rife it's SOO fast you will burn things at first.

Only thing induction can not do is light Flambés by just tilting the pan you will need a match.

I got induction because there is no natural gas in my area and I didn't want a propane tank in my yard. I am very happy with my induction cook top and would now always choose one over gas.  I also have a portable hob and while it is useful, you are right, it is nowhere near as powerful and, at least with the inexpensive model I bought, it has a pretty noticeable hot spot and far fewer adjustment levels. Also, induction cannot be used to char tortillas or peppers. 

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You can char on induction you are correct it's not as easy as using an open flame use a cast iron pot on full. Usually the max temp allowed by a induction burner is around 500 F so you are right its wimpy. I have a Cooktek unit.


Mike Macdonald Calgary

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I've had my induction cook top for 6 months now.  I don't think I could use anything else now.

 

It boils water stupid fast.  Yet I can control the level of heat with repeatable precision I could never find with a dial.  Is 7 too much, 6.5 then etc.  And when the element is turned off the temperature drops fast.  Even when the pan is removed the glass surface is only around 200F and this is after frying at 380F.

 

It's made controlling simmering pots of water easy, heats up oil in a fry pan quickly and backs off as quickly.  This is a Thermadore unit and it blows the pants off a 120V wall plugged in unit.  Which it better at 25x the cost :)

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I have to decide about this eventually myself too, I don't have gas in the kitchen but under the house. Been cooking with a crappy Jennair with those open coils for some 18 years now. I like the idea of gas, but the idea of cleaning all those grates and areas underneath is not very appealing to me. At all. And yes, I'm sure I'd set things on fire for a while, as I'm not use to having a flame.
Heat is an other issue, my kitchen gets pretty warm in summer already.

I'll be reading up on induction for sure.

Do they still make the 'flexible' ones where the surface detects your pot and the pot size? A while ago there was one that did that for quite a number of different size pots.


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Do they still make the 'flexible' ones where the surface detects your pot and the pot size? A while ago there was one that did that for quite a number of different size pots.

 

A solid vote from me for induction.

 

Oliver, I can't be at all authoritative on what's available in your market, but Electrolux used to make a top with large 'zones' rather than specific areas your pots were supposed to be placed on.  But I don't think that's particularly important.  Induction units only heat what's directly in contact with them, so you can happily put a small pot on a large 'element' - you're not going to be wasting any power or heat.


Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

My eG Foodblog

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A solid vote from me for induction.

 

Oliver, I can't be at all authoritative on what's available in your market, but Electrolux used to make a top with large 'zones' rather than specific areas your pots were supposed to be placed on.  But I don't think that's particularly important.  Induction units only heat what's directly in contact with them, so you can happily put a small pot on a large 'element' - you're not going to be wasting any power or heat.

That is an interesting statement, Leslie. I have an induction range and in the past used portable induction units. Pan size is an issue with both. To work on the larger designated areas a pan must reach a certain size or simply will not work. I am now accustomed to this quiirk and rarely make the mistake of putting a too small pan on a large area. But a surface that sensed pan size would overcome this altogether. I take it you do not have this issue.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.” William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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That is an interesting statement, Leslie. I have an induction range and in the past used portable induction units. Pan size is an issue with both. To work on the larger designated areas a pan must reach a certain size or simply will not work. I am now accustomed to this quiirk and rarely make the mistake of putting a too small pan on a large area. But a surface that sensed pan size would overcome this altogether. I take it you do not have this issue.

 

I just tested this on my unit - took a small < 1 qt pan and put it on the largest burner (~15in)  and it had no problems heating the pot.

 

So I'm guessing this is only an issue on some induction cook-tops. (mine is Thermador)


Edited by Raamo (log)

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Thanks, Raamo - you've saved me having to grovel too abjectly!

 

Anna, you're quite correct.  Because of the way my head works, I usually put small pans on the small circles and big ones on the big circles.  Call me impulsive, but after your post I put my unfounded assertions to the test and discovered my smallest pan would heat quite happily in the middle of the biggest ring but not out towards the edge.  So a partial vindication at best.

 

Presumably a cooktop with a large 'zone' is designed to work the way OliverB mentions.


Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

My eG Foodblog

eGullet Ethics Code signatory

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Thanks, Raamo - you've saved me having to grovel too abjectly!

 

Anna, you're quite correct.  Because of the way my head works, I usually put small pans on the small circles and big ones on the big circles.  Call me impulsive, but after your post I put my unfounded assertions to the test and discovered my smallest pan would heat quite happily in the middle of the biggest ring but not out towards the edge.  So a partial vindication at best.

 

Presumably a cooktop with a large 'zone' is designed to work the way OliverB mentions.

So mine is quite different. A small pot will not work on the large ring. I can now eyeball my pots and know which will work where. Mine is not a high-end model so perhaps that is the difference.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.” William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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"A small pot will not work on the large ring..."

 

Actually, most induction tops are the same way.  This is a safety feature controlled by the electronic sensors.  Without *some* size-safety sensors that prevent the coil from energizing, your watch, a spoon, a dropped piece of aluminum foil, a steel button, etc., etc., it would end very poorly...

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"A small pot will not work on the large ring..."

 

Actually, most induction tops are the same way.  This is a safety feature controlled by the electronic sensors.  Without *some* size-safety sensors that prevent the coil from energizing, your watch, a spoon, a dropped piece of aluminum foil, a steel button, etc., etc., it would end very poorly...

Thanks. It's all making sense now and I recall reading this when I was initially researching induction.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.” William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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thanks. The one I saw once you could put your pot(s) anywhere and it detected them, but now I'm not sure anymore if it was induction. I think it had some kind of honeycomb grid of small elements. Back then it was pretty expensive but seemed interesting, if not necessarily necessary :-)


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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"A small pot will not work on the large ring..."

 

Actually, most induction tops are the same way.  This is a safety feature controlled by the electronic sensors.  Without *some* size-safety sensors that prevent the coil from energizing, your watch, a spoon, a dropped piece of aluminum foil, a steel button, etc., etc., it would end very poorly...

 

 

I just did another test - mine must be different, Perhaps some fancy safety sensors (would help justify the cost I guess): Spoon has water in it and is magnetic, pot has water in it as well.  Water in pot is 140f and spoon is room temperature.

 

Picture of test: http://imgur.com/C0PTAU6

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Is it true that even the big flexi zone induction tops only support 4 pans at a time? Seems so disappointing when you have that much space...

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I just did another test...Water in pot is 140f and spoon is room temperature.

 

There could be a few explanations.  First, if your spoon is 18/8 or 18/10 SS, it is not induction-compatible--the magnet test is not always determinative.  Second, your spoon might be too far outside the *true* diameter of the coil under the glass.  The painted circles on the glass are generally much larger than the actual coils.  Third, there may be some sensor at work.

 

Try your two smallest mixing/mise en place bowls on that large hob, see what happens.

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