Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Renn

"Modernist Cuisine" by Myhrvold, Young & Bilet (Part 1)

Recommended Posts

We don't have any idea what Brown's motives are, but if all he knows about the book is what he's seen in the mainstream media, he's got a good basis for thinking the book is just about "culinary wizardry" and isn't that important. You can't read a single review of the book without the author contemplating "all the recipes that require a centrifuge" etc. But the fact is, the book simply treats all of these various cooking methods as relative equals in terms of the depth of coverage. Yes, it covers centrifuges. And sauté pans. And woks. And rotor-stator homogenizers. And broilers. It doesn't omit centrifuges just because they are expensive, or woks just because they are cheap. It is the most comprehensive, scientifically-grounded look at cooking that anyone has ever published. OK, many of the recipes highlight the newer tools and ingredients, but the recipes are only a fraction of the book, and in most cases reasonable substitutes abound and are discussed in the chapters.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So let me see if I got this straight. Alton Brown for reasons NONE of us know, has decided not to join the EG lovefest for this book. And because he has not he gets totally ripped here by the accolades of modernist cuisine. Of all the fucking nerve of the guy. Just who does he think he is?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lancastermike, he's getting ripped because he's criticizing a book he hasn't read. Further, almost everyone here has admitted some admiration for Alton Brown, so the "ripping" is mild at that. If Alton wants to critique it after he reviews a copy than that's certainly fair enough.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First off I didn't want to hijack this thread with that Alton Brown post. Secondly, Lancaster mike I did so to point out the fact that he is panning a book that he hasn't read and apparently has little desire to learn what it is about other than it is expensive and contians recipes and information which lay peope can't use. As I mentioned, I found this disappointing because he has always been one who was big in the sharing of the science of cooking and I liked him for that.


John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ehhh. AB's not a book reviewer. He's not obligated to read the book to have an opinion on it based on what he's heard.

That's what has gone on on this thread for most of us. What % of us have a copy? I don't. Yet I have an opinion about MC, as does everyone else on this thread.

Cut Alton a break. He's allowed to disagree.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is anyone else stuck with me? I ordered the middle of August on Amazon.com. It sounds like people who ordered just before me (4 days) were getting emails saying they've shipped (and books already arriving), and those who ordered a bit after saying it's been delayed.

Even now mine says it's due on March 9th (2 day prime shipping). But, I feel like if they did have one to ship they would of already shipped mine with the others. Not knowing is driving me crazy!


Edited by Phaz (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was a bit disappointed that Alton passed judgment without having seen the book at all, but he's certainly entitled to his opinion. Having seen Mr. Brown talk at a recent book tour event, I'm not surprised on his comments. When I suggested that he do a sous vide episode, his response was that it was "too dangerous" a technique to include in the show. I'm all for food safety, and as an attorney (understand that Food Network has to be careful) but it was still disappointing. My overall impression from hearing him talk about cooking in general and Good Eats in particular is that, for all the science he includes in the show, Alton isn't a fan of modernist cooking. Ok, no problem. To each their own. I've learned a lot from Alton, and will learn even more from MC (I'm ogling Volume 2 right now).

Having had more of a chance to review my set of MC, I'm even more struck by how approachable the book is. I don't normally "read" cookbooks, but this book has a wonderful narrative as well as great recipes. The print quality is living up to the promises. The color photos on pages with pitch-black backgrounds are especially amazing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So let me see if I got this straight. Alton Brown for reasons NONE of us know, has decided not to join the EG lovefest for this book. And because he has not he gets totally ripped here by the accolades of modernist cuisine. Of all the fucking nerve of the guy. Just who does he think he is?

He thinks he's a know-it-all who missed the bus on this one.

It's OK to not join the lovefest, but what he HAS done, for his legion of fans, is to say that the book basically isn't worth their time or money.

I was a bit disappointed that Alton passed judgment without having seen the book at all, but he's certainly entitled to his opinion.

He's absolutely entitled to his opinion. Of course, his opinion on this books sounds like the opinion of someone reviewing a restaurant without ever having eaten there.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I too was disappointed and surprised by his remarks. Good Eats is what sparked my initial interest in cooking, particularly because of science aspect of it. I also feel though that the new Alton Brown who puts out a lot less Good Eats a year and focuses mostly on hosting Iron Chef-related shows isn't the same as the geek that taught me all those techniques and dishes years ago :sad:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So let me see if I got this straight. Alton Brown for reasons NONE of us know, has decided not to join the EG lovefest for this book. And because he has not he gets totally ripped here by the accolades of modernist cuisine. Of all the fucking nerve of the guy. Just who does he think he is?

Here is commentary on this book from today's Washington Post. The review is clearly a positive one with some reservations. I hope it can be read without being ripped by the true believers.

Andreas Viestad review

Not sure if I'm a true believer or an accolade (sic, do you mean acolyte?) but having had access to a review copy (yes, actually seeing it and cooking from it) all I can say is it is one of the most informative and well presented books I have ever seen. The information covers the scientific and historical basis of cooking and provides a solid foundation for anyone doing any form of cooking, not just modernist.

If a populist chooses to deride the book sight unseen I really think he's fair game for those who have seen it or even to those who do not accept baseless opinions because an "authority" makes them.

Reading through this whole thread, it seems that most of the acolytes or true believers are concentrated amongst those who think because the book has to be bad because it has the word "modernist" in the title and/or is more expensive than what they are used to. As is the case for Alton Brown, I haven't seen evidence any of them having read the book.

With the high level of expectation around this book it would be likely, and understandable, that people who paid a large amount of money for the book would get stuck into the authors if it didn't live up to the hype. Has anyone done so yet ... anyone who has read the books? < ... queue cricket noise ...>


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alton Brown has been living at the Food Network too long. He is truly one of my favorites, that being said the bar has fallen mightly at the home of Sandra Lee, Guy Fieri, Any contestant or even winner of The Next Food Network Star, Racheal Ray..........remember when they used to make fun of Emeril. He would be a god in the current line up. Anyone who brings science and enlightenment to the culinary arts is to be respected. Harold Magee, Shirley Corriher (a frequent guest on Good Eats) and especially now Nathanm and his crew are to be respected. Any serious culinarian should always be curious as to the why of cooking. Applying scientific rigor to cooking can only be a good thing. You can argue a lot of things about this book but the scholarship is undeniable.


Even Samantha Brown would have hard time summoning a "wow" for this. Anthony Bourdain

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've got it and I must admit I was disappointed I was was expecting to see more unusual combinations such as "caviar and white chocolate" which is in there.

I was expecting a bit more e.g. "WHY does X work with Y" but it's more a book that says "X work with Y" and a lot in there is already common knowledge "Apple and cinnamon" as such it is useful, but more to probably a serious chef, but still interesting. As a home cook I can see me using it rarely, but would consult if I had a "what would go with that" issue.

If you can get it for around £10 ok but not worth paying more for.


Edited by ermintrude (log)

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll depart this topic with good wishes to those lucky enough to be able to buy this book. I hope you enjoy it and it helps you make some good tasting stuff. For those who would like to buy it but can't, my regrets. I would hope that those like Mr. Brown and Ms. Waters who may not be exited about it can still be held in regard for their body of work in the culinary world.

Using a centrifuge and liquid nitrogen or some burning wood and a 85 year old pot all that matters is that good tasting food that people enjoy be the result


Edited by lancastermike (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

he's certainly entitled to his opinion.

He's absolutely entitled to his opinion.

I've spent almost a decade putting up quite a few posts in our forums and being taught by all of you, time and again, that "I'm entitled to my opinion" is only an applicable statement in the context of an opinion that meets the minimum criteria for reasonableness. Alton Brown's comments regarding Modernist Cuisine are so completely indefensible and nonsensical that I'm comfortable saying that, in this instance, he does not have an opinion deserving of any deference just by virtue of it being his opinion. In addition, as a public figure, he has to meet a higher standard than a random person. He's making statements that will be published by mass media, and he himself has a platform that reaches quite a few people. In that situation, when you're asked about something and you don't know anything about it, you should just say no comment. I expect that, at some point, Alton Brown will have an encounter with either the Modernist Cuisine book or with Nathan Myhrvold, at which point he will get his opinion straightened out.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd just like to add that the quote attributed to me above, which makes it appear as if I agree with AB on this subject, was cut off. My entire statement was actually...

He's absolutely entitled to his opinion. Of course, his opinion on this books sounds like the opinion of someone reviewing a restaurant without ever having eaten there
.

So I agree with Fat Guy. Who evidently agrees with me.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just checked amazon and my order went from March 8 to April 15! Killing me

Wah! The same thing just happened to me. I ordered August 15 and the expected delivery was March 9....until the morning of March 8:

"We're writing about the order you placed on August 15 2010 (Order# xxx). Unfortunately, the release date for the item(s) listed below has changed, and we need to provide you with a new delivery estimate based on the new release date:

Nathan Myhrvold, et al "Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking"

Estimated arrival date: April 18 2011

We apologize for the inconvenience caused by this delay."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going waaayy out on a limb here, but I suspect returns.

My guess is that a chain of errors in the Amazon.ca warehouse occurred. If you've ever seen one of those "How do they do it?"-type shows, the warehouse is pretty neat. Robots bring items to the packers, they drop them into boxes as the computer instructs, and off they go. But I can imagine a scenario where when the robot shows up with a big box, and the packer is expecting a book, they just dive into the box and grab a book off the top of what they presume to be a stack of identical books. Later on, when the shipping weight gets checked and flagged, someone overrides the computer because hey, how could one book weigh 50 pounds?! Innocent mistake, but wow, big oops!

[Moderator note: This topic continues here, "Modernist Cuisine" by Myhrvold, Young & Bilet (Part 2)]


Edited by Mjx Moderator note added. (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Similar Content

    • By kostbill
      Hello.
      I would like to buy some pectinex ultra sp-l.
      However I am worried about the temperature during the shipping time.
      I read that the storage temperature should be between 2 and 8 C. It works best from 15 to 50 C, and if it stays a lot of time in 25 C, it will gradually be deactivated.
       
      It needs a week to come here (Greece), then will it affect its abilities?
       
      Do you know if I can find a document somewhere that explains the gradual loss of power as a function of time and temperature?
      Did you have any experience with pectinex not working well due to bad storage?
       
      Thanks.
    • By Galchic
      Hello, folks, thanks for reading.
       
      My husband thinks, I should start selling my popcorn seasonings (which I make for my family), it’s a good product. But I'm not sure if it’s interesting to other people... So, what do you think, guys?
       
      Our story: 
      We’ve bought an air popper machine, but popcorn came out pretty tasteless. Then, we’ve bought different “popcorn seasoning” mixes... But it always ends with all the seasoning at the bottom of the bowl. Then, we've added butter, oil and so on before seasoning...  we got soggy, chewy popcorn. Lot’s of disappointments…
       
      When we almost gave up… the magic happened! I figured out the way to make seasonings that:
      Stick to popcorn, but not sticky to fingers (or T-shirt  , Easy to apply, May be pre cooked in bulk and stored… And popcorn appears crunchy, tasty, thoroughly covered with seasoning.  
      Sounds good, yep? Now, when I want to treat myself  - I only need 2 mins to turn tasteless popped popcorn to a real treat.  
      The only moment - it request 1 extra effort: after you toss it over popcorn, you need to microwave it for 1 min, and stir after.
       
      So, I was wondering, if you like popcorn like myself - would this seasoning be interesting for you to purchase? Are you ready for a little extra work (microwave & stir) in the goal to flavor popcorn, or it feels too much effort?
       
      As I have no experience in manufacturing and retail, your answers would help me to make a very important decision - to dive in or not... 
       
      Thanks in advance for your answers, it means the world to me.
       
    • By boilsover
      It's bad enough correcting common zombie cookware misconceptions.  But when a legitimate food expert like Mark Bittman spouts complete nonsense about all tinned cookware containing lead, it's downright dismaying.  Likewise when salespeople and companies tell that eternal doozer:  "Cast iron heats evenly."
       
      The winner for 2019--so far--however, has to be Florence Fabricant, New York Times columnist and author of 12 cookbooks.  In her January 22, 2019 issue of her column "Front Burner", Ms. Fabricant gushes over the carbon steel skillet made by Made In.  Among other reasons to recommend it:
       
      "It’s a good conductor (it can be used on an induction cooktop) and has heft..."
       
      What?  Surely Fabricant knows carbon steel, like any steel, is not only *not* a good conductor, it's a *terrible* one.   In fact it's the worst metal pans are made of.  If she doesn't, she needs to take a remedial physics course.
       
      And perhaps she was under a deadline to push this out, but what gives with the non sequitur explanatory parenthetical?  Does she really believe that good conductivity and induction compatibility are the same or even closely related?
       
      Doubtless, someone, somewhere has already taken this nonsense for Gospel and spread it around.  "Oh, boy!  I can't wait for my new conductive steel skillet to be delivered!" 
      Do you see, Larry?  Do you see what happens when you make stuff up?
       
      https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/22/dining/made-in-carbon-steel-skillet.html
       
    • By Cookwhoplaysdrums
      Can anyone suggest me some good books related to Gastronomy, food history, culture, recipes based on different cultures. 
      Also recommend the best food magazine subscriptions. 
    • By boilsover
      I. Introduction
       
      This article reviews the 3500W all-metal commercial induction single-hob hotplate by Panasonic, which I believe is the first “all-metal” unit to hit the U.S. market. Where appropriate, it is also compared with another commercial single-hob, the 1800W Vollrath Mirage Pro Model 59500P.
       
      Some background is in order. Heretofore, induction appliances would only “work” with cookware which is ferromagnetic. Bare and enameled cast iron, carbon steel, enameled steel and some stainless steels were semi-dependable for choices, and the cookware industry has worked hard to make most of its lines induction compatible. But alas, not all cookware, past and present, has worked; copper and aluminum don’t, at least without a separate interface disk or it’s own ferromagnetic base layer.
       
      The reason why non-ferromagnetic cookware hasn’t worked on induction is technical, but it relates to the magnetic field and what’s called the “skin depth” of the pan’s outermost material. With copper or aluminum, the field will not excite the metals’ molecules to the extent that their friction will generate useful heat to cook food. And the way the appliances come equipped, unless the appliance detects something sufficiently large and ferromagnetic, they will not produce any field at all. Therefore, to the consternation of many cooks, pro and amateur, older (and in the opinion of some, better) cookware needs to be retired and replaced if/when they wish to switch to an induction appliance. Some cooks don’t mind, but others who, like me, have invested heavily in copper and are habituated to it and aluminum, would forego induction altogether rather than discard our cookware.
       
      But what we’ve really meant—all along--when we say or write that only ferromagnetic cookware will “work” on induction is that the frequency chosen for our appliances (20-24kHz) will not usefully excite other metals. If that frequency is increased to, say, 90-110kHz , then suddenly the impossible happens: aluminum and copper, with absolutely no ferromagnetic content, will heat in a way that is eminently useful in the kitchen.
      While Panasonic has made dual-frequency induction hotplates available in Japan for several years now, they didn’t make it available here until recently (My unit indicates it was manufactured in early 2016!). I speculate the reason for the delay relates to the detection circuitry and the switches that determine the frequency at which the field will operate.

      The introduction of all-metal induction in USA is especially interesting because it allows a direct comparison of cookware of all (metal) types. For instance, cookware nerds have long debated how copper cookware on a gas compares with disk-based stainless on induction. While the veil has not completely lifted (for that we would need extremely precise gas energy metering), we now have the ability to measure and compare copper, aluminum, clad and disk-based on the same induction hob.
       
      II. Dimensions, Weight & Clearances
       
      The Panasonic, being a true commercial appliance, is considerably larger than most consumer and crossover hotplates. It stands 6 inches tall overall, and on relatively tall (1.25”) feet, so that there is space for ample air circulation under the unit. It is 20.25 inches deep overall, including a standoff ventilation panel in back, and the angled control panel in front. It is 15” wide, and weighs in at a hefty 30.25 pounds. Suffice it to say, the Panasonic is not practically portable.

      The KY-MK3500’s Ceran pan surface is 14.25 inches wide by 14.5 inches deep, almost 43% larger in area than the VMP’s glass. Panasonic tells me they have no recommended maximum pan diameter or weight, but the tape tells me that a 15” diameter pan would not overhang the unit’s top (Compare the VMP, which can accept a maximum pan base of 10 7/8”). Common sense tells me that—unless the glass is well-braced underneath in many places, 25-30 pounds of total weight might be pushing it.
       
      For those who might consider outfitting their home kitchens with one or more of these units, in addition to having 20 amp 240v (NEMA #6-20R receptacles) electrical circuits for each appliance, 39 1/2 inches of overhead clearance is required to combustible material (31 ½” to incombustibles) and 2 inches to the back and sides (0” to incombustibles). The overhead clearance requirement and the tall 6” unit height call for no (or only very high) cabinetry and careful design of a “well” or lower countertop/table that will lower the Ceran surface to a comfortable cooking height. In other words, a tall pot on this unit on a regular-height counter might be a problem for a lot of cooks.
      III. Features

      A. Display
       
      The KY-Mk3500 has an angled 8-key spillproof keypad and red LED numerical display. The keys are large, raised and their markings are legible. All but the four Up/Down keys have their own inset indicator lights, which indicate power, mode and memory operation.
       
      The numerical display is large and bright. The numerical display area is divided between time (XX:XX) to the user’s left and power/temp to the user’s right. If the timer or program features are activated, the numerical display shows both the set time and the power/temperature. There is also a small “Hot Surface” LED icon on the panel.
      The Panasonic also actually uses the Ceran surface as a display of sorts. That is, there is a lighted circle just outside the faint positioning circle, which glows red whenever the unit is operating, awaiting a pan, or the Ceran is hot. Panasonic also claims that this display also changes brightness with the set power level, implying that the operator can judge the heat setting by a glance. Thus this display serves three purposes: (a) pan positioning; (b) burn safety; and (c) intensity.

      B. Safety Features
       
      As one would expect, there are a variety of safety features built into this appliance. In most cases, these features are controlled by detection circuits, some fixed, some defeatable/variable. This being a commercial unit, Panasonic has set the unit’s defaults with commercial users’ convenience in mind. If consumers want the full spectrum of safety settings, they need to vary these defaults. For instance, if a home cook wants to make sure the unit powers off if the pan is removed and not replaced within 3 minutes, they have to manually vary a default. Likewise if the operator wants the power to automatically shut off after 2 hours of no changes. But others, like the basic “Is there a pan there?” detection and overheat shutoff, are there no matter what and cannot be defeated.
      C. Settings & Programming

      The KY-MK3500 features both power and temperature settings. For “regular” induction, there are 20 power settings, which range from 50 watts to 3500 watts. For non-ferromagnetic pans, there are 18 power settings, which range from 60 watts to 2400 watts. The display shows these settings in numerals 1-20 and 1-18 respectively. When the power is toggled on, the unit defaults to Setting 14 in both frequencies.

      The temperature settings are the same in both modes, with 22 selectable temperatures from 285F (140C) to 500F (260C). Other than for the very lowest temperature setting, each setting increase results in a 10F temperature increase. Usefully, the display shows the set temperature, not 1-22; and until the set temperature is reached, the display indicates “Preheat”. The unit beeps when it reaches the set temperature. The Panasonic measures pan temperature using an IR sensor beneath the glass; this sensor sits about 1 inch outside the centerpoint of the painted positioning markings, yet inside of the induction coil.

      The timer operation is fast and intuitive. Once the power or temperature is set and operating, the operator merely keys the timer’s dedicated up/down buttons, and the timer display area activates. Timer settings are in any 30-second interval between 30 seconds and 9 ½ hours, and the display will show remaining time. The beeps at the end of cooking are loud.
       
      There are nine available memory programs, which can be set for either power or temperature, along with time. Programming entails pressing and holding the Program mode button, selecting the program (1-9), then picking and setting the power or temperature, then setting the timer, and finally pressing and holding the Program button again. After that, to use any of the entered programs, you simply press the Program button, select which program, and the unit will run that program within 3 seconds.
       
      In addition to Heat-Time programmability, the KY-MK3500 also provides the ability to vary 9 of the unit’s default settings: (1) Decreasing the power level granularity from 20 to 10; (2) Changing the temperature display to Celsius; (3) Enabling a long cook time shutoff safety feature; (4) Enabling the main power auto shutoff feature; (5) Disabling the glowing circle; (6) Lowering or disabling the auditory beep signals’ volume; (7) Customizing the timer finish beep; (8) Customizing the Preheat notification beep; and (9) Customizing the interval for filter cleanings.
       
      D. Maintenance
       
      The KY-MK3500 has a plastic air intake filter which can be removed and cleaned. This is not dishwashable. This filter is merely a plastic grate with ¼” square holes, so it is questionable what exactly —besides greasy dust bunnies—will be filtered. Panasonic recommends the filter be cleaned once a week. Besides that, the Ceran surface and stainless housing clean just like other appliances.
       
      IV. Acceptable Cookware
       
      Panasonic claims the unit will accept cast iron, enameled iron, stainless steel, copper, and aluminum with two provisos. First, very thin aluminum and copper may “move” on the appliance. And second, thin aluminum pans may “deform”. Panasonic does not address carbon steel pans, but I verified that they do indeed work. They also warn of the obvious fact that glass and ceramics will not work.
       
      Buyers are also warned against using cookware of specific cookware bottom shapes: round, footed, thin, and domed. Trying to use these, Panasonic warns, may disable safety features and reduce or eliminate pan heating.
       
      As far as minimum pan diameter goes, Panasonic claims the KY-MK3500 needs 5” diameter in ferromagnetic pans, and 6” in copper or aluminum ones. My own tests have shown that in fact the unit will function with a cast iron fondue pot, the base of which is only 4 1/8” in diameter, and also works with a copper saucepan, the base of which is almost exactly 5” in diameter. Obviously, the field will be most active at the very edges of such small pans, but they do function.
       
      V. Evaluation in Use

      I can say that not only does the Panasonic KY-MK3500 “work” with copper and aluminum pans, but that it works very well with them. Thermally, thick gauge conductive material pans perform in close emulation of the same pans on gas, even though there are no combustion gasses flowing up and around the pan. I found this startling.
       
      Nevertheless, a searching comparison between copper and ferromagnetic pans on this unit isn’t as straightforward as one might expect. The Panasonic is capable of dumping a full 3500 watts into ferromagnetic pans, but is limited to 2400 watts for aluminum and copper. Despite copper’s and aluminum’s superiorities in conductivity, that extra 1100 watts is going to win every speed-boil race.
       
      I initially thought I could handicap such a race simply by using the temperature setting and comparing the times required to achieve a “preheat” in a pans of cold water. Alas, no—the Panasonic’s IR function signified the copper pan was preheated to 350F before the water even reached 70F! Obviously, the entire thermal system of cold food in a cold pan needs to come to equilibrium before the Panasonic’s temperature readout becomes meaningful.

      A. Temperature Settings
       
      Unfortunately, with every pan I tried, the temperature settings were wildly inaccurate for measuring the temperature of the food. I heated 2 liters of peanut oil in a variety of pots, disk-base, enameled cast iron enameled steel, and copper. I thought it might be useful to see how close to 350F and 375F the settings were for deep frying. The oil in a Le Creuset 5.5Q Dutch oven set to 350F never made it past 285F, and it took 40:00 to get there. I kept bumping up the setting until I found that the setting for 420F will hold the oil at 346F. A disk-based pot didn’t hit 365F until the temperature setting was boosted to 400F. The only pan which came remotely close to being true to the settings was a 2mm silvered copper oven, which heated its oil to 327F when the Panasonic was set for 350F, and 380F when set for 410F.
       
      The temperature function was a lot closer to true when simply preheating an empty pan. With a setting of 350F, all the shiny stainless pans heated to just a few degrees higher (about 353-357F) and held there. This is useful for judging the Leidenfrost Point (which is the heat at which you can oil your SS and have it cook relatively nonstick) and potentially for “seasoning” carbon steel, SS and aluminum, but not much else, since it doesn’t translate to actual food temperature. There’s also the issue of the temperature settings *starting* at 285F, so holding a lower temperature for, e.g., tempering chocolate or a sous vide bath, or even a simmer would be by-guess-by-golly just like any other hob—your only resort is lots of experience with lower *power* settings.
       
      With heat-tarnished copper, a 350F setting resulted in a wide swinging between 353F and 365F, which I attribute to the copper shedding heat far faster than the other constructions, once the circuit stops the power at temperature. Then, when the circuit cycles the power back on, the copper is so responsive that it quickly overshoots the setting. Aluminum, on the other hand, *undershot*, the 350F setting, registering a cycle of 332-340F.

      I conclude that the IR sensor is set for some particular emissivity, probably for that of stainless steel. If true, the Panasonic, even though it automatically switches frequencies, does not compensate for the different emissivities of copper and aluminum. And even if Panasonic added dedicated aluminum and copper IR sensors, there is enough difference between dirty and polished that the added cost would be wasted. Bottom line here: the temperature setting mode is of extremely low utility, and should not be trusted.
       
      B. Power Mode – Pan Material Comparisons
       
      Given the differences in power setting granularity and maximum power between the two frequencies, it is difficult to assess what X watts into the pot means in, say, a copper-versus-clad or –disk showdown. What is clear, however, is that Setting X under disk and clad seems “hotter” than the same setting under copper and aluminum.

      I will need to precisely calibrate the Panasonic for wattage anyway for the hyperconductivity project, so I will obtain a higher-powered watt meter to determine the wattage of every power setting for both frequencies. Until then, however, the only way I can fairly handicap a race is to apply a reduction figure to the ferromagnetic setting (2400W being 69% of 3500W). Given that we know the wattage at the maximum settings, we can infer that Setting 14 (actually 13.8) on the 20-step ferromagnetic range iis approximately the same heat output as the maximum setting (18) for copper/aluminum.

      The boil times for 4 liters of 50F water in 10” diameter pots shocked me. The 10” x 3mm tinned copper pot’s water reached 211F in 36:41. Not an especially fast time at 2400 watts. The 10” disk-based pressure cooker bottom? Well, it didn’t make it—it took an hour to get to 208F and then hung there. So that left me wondering if the Panasonic engineers simply decided that 2400 watts was enough for copper and aluminum. I have a theory why the copper pot boiled and the SS one didn’t under the same power, but getting into that’s for another time.

      C. Evenness Comparisons
       
      The wires which generate the induction field are wound in a circular pattern; when energized, they create a torus-shaped magnetic field. The wound coil is constructed with an empty hole at its center. As matters of physics, the magnetic field’s intensity drops off extremely fast as a function of the distance from the coil; a few millimeters above the Ceran, the field is so weak no meaningful heat will be generated. This means that most induction cooktops heat *only* the very bottom of pans, and in a distinct 2-dimensional “doughnut” shape.

      All of the above can result in a pan having a cooler central spot, a hotter ring directly over the coil, and a cooler periphery outside the coil. It is left to the cookware to try to even out these thermal discontinuities when cooking. Some materials and pan constructions are better at this than others: the successful constructions utilize more highly-conductive metals such as aluminum and copper, but unless the material is very thick, there can be a ring-shaped hotspot that can scorch food.
      Until the Panasonic arrived to market, hotspot comparisons between ferromagnetic and aluminum/copper pans depended largely on comparing induction’s flat, more discrete heat ring with gas’s more diffuse, 3-dimensional one. Dodgeball-style debate ensued, with few clear conclusions. But now, for the first time, equally-powered flat heat rings in two different frequencies allow us to directly compare evenness in ferromagnetic and aluminum/copper cookware.

      The simplest and easiest way to assess cookware evenness is the “scorchprint”, which does not require infrared or other advanced thermal imaging equipment. I’ve posted on how to conduct scorchprinting elsewhere, but basically a pan is evenly dusted with flour; heat is applied to the pan bottom. As the flour is toasted, any hotspots visually emerge, giving the viewer a useful general idea of evenness.
       
      I will later post the photos of scorchprints I made of 4 different pans run using the Panasonic KY-MK3500: (1) a Demeyere 28cm Proline 5* clad frypan; (2) a Fissler Original Profi disk-base 28cm frypan; a 6mm aluminum omelet pan; and (4) a 32cm x 3.2mm Dehillerin sauté. To make it a fair race, I heated all the pans at 2400W until they reached 450F, and then backed off the power setting to maintain 450F. I did this in order not to compromise my saute’s tin lining. As you will see, both the clad Demeyere and the disk-based Fissler did print the typical brown doughnut, with a cooler center and periphery. By far the most even was the thick, all-aluminum pan, which actually was even over its entirety—even including the walls. The copper sauté was also quite even, although its larger size and mass really dissipated heat; once 450F was dialed in, no more browning happened, even after 30 minutes.
       
      I conclude that the straightgauge pans were far more effective at shunting heat to their peripheries and walls (and also to some extent into the air) than the clad and disk-based pans. The latter accumulated their heat with most of it staying in the center of the pans. Eventually, even the “doughnut hole” blended into the scorch ring because the walls were not bleeding sufficient heat away from the floor. This was especially pronounced in the Fissler, the high wall and rim areas of which never exceeded 125F. The aluminum pan, in contrast varied less than 30F everywhere on the pan.

      D. Other Considerations

      The Panasonic’s fan noise at the cook’s position was noticeable at 63 dBA, higher than with the VMP’s 57 dBA. These levels are characterized as “normal conversation” and “quiet street”, respectively. Interestingly, I found two other, potentially more important differences. First, the Panasonic’s fan stays on, even after the unit is powered off, whereas the VMP’s fan shuts off immediately when the hob is turned off. Second, the Panasonic’s fan steps down from the louder speed to a much quieter (47 dBA, characterized as “quiet home”) level until the Ceran is cool to sustained touch, at which point it shuts off completely. I think the Panasonic’s ability to continue to vent and cool itself is a great feature, especially since a cook could leave a large, full, hot pan on the glass.

      The glowing circle is useless for gauging heat setting or intensity. And while it works to indicate a hot surface, it remains lit long after you can hold your hand in place dead center.
       
      VI. Summary and Lessons
       
      The Panasonic KY-MK3500 is a solid unit, well-conceived and rugged. It is extremely easy to use. It works well with both the common 24kHz frequency used with ferromagnetic cookware, and the 90kHz frequency chosen here for copper and aluminum. It effectively and automatically switches between the two.

      In my opinion, it points the way to expanding the worldwide induction appliance market to include dual frequencies. It also obviates the need to: (a) junk otherwise excellent cookware merely to have induction; and (b) retrofit designs to bond on ferromagnetic outer layers. In fact, in my opinion, my tests indicate that, in a dual-frequency world, adding ferromagnetic bottoms may well be a drag on pans’ performance.
       
      I also consider the Panasonic Met-All to be ground-breaking in what it can tell us about *pans*, because all metallic pans are now commensurable on induction. Clearly (to me anyway), watt-for-watt, the copper and aluminum pans performed better than did the clad and disk-based pans on this unit. Boil times were faster, there was less propensity to scorch, and the conductive-sidewall pans definitely added more heat to the pans’ contents. We may ultimately find that 90kHz fields save energy compared to 24kHz fields, much as copper and aluminum require less heat on gas and electric coil.
      In terms of heat transfer, the copper and aluminum pans came close to emulating the same pans on gas. And at 2400W/3500W it has the power of a full size appliance in a relatively small tabletop package.
       
      The Panasonic is far from perfect, however. It can’t really be considered portable. There are far too few temperature settings, and what few it has are not accurate or consistent in terms of judging pan contents and attaining the same temperature in different pans (and even the same pan unless clean). The luminous ring could easily have been made a useful indicator of intensity, but wasn’t. And it lacks things that should be obvious, including a through-the-glass “button” contact thermocouple, more power granularity, an analog-style control knob, and capacity to accept an external thermocouple probe for PID control.
       
      Most importantly for me, the Panasonic KY-MK3500 portends more good things to come. Retail price remains $1,700-$2,400, but I jumped on it at $611, and I’ve seen it elsewhere for as low as $1,200.
       
      The manual can be found here: ftp://ftp.panasonic.com/commercialfoo...
       
      Photo Credit:  Panasonic Corporation

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...