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Cocktail Books: The Topic

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Whilst we like to make fun of the Rachael Ray level cocktail books, not everyone is as well versed in basic cocktail knowledge as the rarefied crowd that hangs out here. Certainly there's a need for a well written book that covers stocking your kitchen and bar, basic technique for making flavored syrups and cocktail mixers, etc. as well as includes some recipes and inspiration for the home cocktail hobbyist. I certainly think that's a niche that hasn't really been filled yet. Certainly not by anyone that knows what they're talking about. Someone has to be the Rachael Ray (not the Sandra Lee) of cocktails for the masses. Not everyone can afford to go out and spend $9-12 a pop every time they'd like a well crafted cocktail. More folks are entertaining at home now. Is anyone shedding any light in their path?


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Oh, most certainly, and in fact I own both. But those are more about the classics and still assume you have a basic tool kit in your house/brain. What I'm saying is I'm not sure anyone has filled the niche with a step-by-step approach book for the real cocktail novice that wants to make modern cocktails either of their own creation or cocktails that mimic the signature creative cocktails at their favorite bar or restaurant.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I'm a novice. Not as much a novice as I once was thanks to the people here at eGullet, but a novice nonetheless. Especially when trying to put together my own creations. I have ideas but getting them from the coconut to the glass trips me up more often than I like to admit. It's sort of a badge of shame for me because getting my food ideas to the plate is usually pretty easy. So get to work on that book Katie. :biggrin:


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Whilst we like to make fun of the Rachael Ray level cocktail books, not everyone is as well versed in basic cocktail knowledge as the rarefied crowd that hangs out here. Certainly there's a need for a well written book that covers stocking your kitchen and bar, basic technique for making flavored syrups and cocktail mixers, etc. as well as includes some recipes and inspiration for the home cocktail hobbyist. I certainly think that's a niche that hasn't really been filled yet. Certainly not by anyone that knows what they're talking about. Someone has to be the Rachael Ray (not the Sandra Lee) of cocktails for the masses. Not everyone can afford to go out and spend $9-12 a pop every time they'd like a well crafted cocktail. More folks are entertaining at home now. Is anyone shedding any light in their path?

Thanks for asking this question, Katie. As a novice who is as green as they come, I would love a basic book especially one that addresses home-made ingredients.


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)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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...So get to work on that book Katie. :biggrin:...

Funny you should mention that. I'm in the midst as I type this. Nothing to report yet in terms of a solid publication date (looking at Spring 2012), but publisher is secured, Introduction and first chapter drafts have been submitted, several photo shoots are finished (and several more to come) and I'm knee deep in trying to make flavored simple syrups sound interesting at this moment. Not as easy as you'd think without sounding pedantic. I'll keep you all posted as I move forward.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Thanks for asking this question, Katie. As a novice who is as green as they come, I would love a basic book especially one that addresses home-made ingredients.

Anna - I hope I can make your wish come true then. Tentative title is Market Fresh Cocktails, and you and Tri2Cook are exactly the folks I want in my target audience. Aiming for technique heavy, photo heavy, step-by-step treatment of the subject matter, as well as basics for stocking your kitchen and bar to be able to reproduce the recipes and some food for thought to spark your own creativity.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Certainly there's a need for a well written book that covers stocking your kitchen and bar, basic technique for making flavored syrups and cocktail mixers, etc. as well as includes some recipes and inspiration for the home cocktail hobbyist. I certainly think that's a niche that hasn't really been filled yet. Certainly not by anyone that knows what they're talking about.

I guess I'm unclear about what you mean by a "basic book" -- certainly David Wondrich's Killer Cocktails fills that spot.

Don't get me wrong -- making your own ingredients for cocktails is an interesting subject, but I'm not sure it's what most beginners are looking for. If you're talking about a more experienced audience, then it seems like a great book.

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Less "how to mix a cocktail" for the true novice and more "how to use fresh seasonal ingredients to make your own ingredients" for the home enthusiast that might not have ever thought to make their own mixers rather than using store bought. With step by step photos to illustrate and try and take away the intimidation factor of believing only a commercial kitchen could produce those end results.

I suppose my initial question was more to test the waters and see if there would be any interest in such a thing, without getting figuratively stoned to death by the haters. I didn't really mean to let the cat out the bag quite yet, but Tri2Cook kind of threw me the sucker pitch... :rolleyes:

Someone has to be the Rachael Ray of the cocktail world. No one to my mind has truly brought this to the masses yet. Might as well be me, dontcha think? :biggrin:


Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I'm not sure I consider myself a beginner at this point, maybe amatuer would be a better word. I have a very well stocked bar within the limitations of where I live, a pretty clear idea of the concept of craft cocktails and no difficulty with things like making syrups and infusing spirits. What I'm looking to do is learn how to construct with confidence. I want to get from "it tastes pretty good to me" to "this is a good drink, people will enjoy it".


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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What I'm looking to do is learn how to construct with confidence. I want to get from "it tastes pretty good to me" to "this is a good drink, people will enjoy it".

I think that comes with more practice. Like cooking and hosting more dinner parties for your friends, making more cocktails and expanding your repertoire (and your palate) gets you there. You'll start to see certain patterns in recipes. The basic drink "families" constructs will begin to make sense to you and become second nature. And in the end, it remains subjective. As the saying goes, "that's why there's chocolate AND vanilla." You may discover you like drinks dialed less sweet than the typically balanced equal parts of sweetener to citrus for example. What you think tastes good is not always going to please everyone. A lesson I've learned the hard way, believe me...

I admire your dedication. Wanting to have your confidence and skill set be equal to someone that makes a living doing it is admirable. Just don't put myself and my cohorts out of business, OK? :wink:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Less "how to mix a cocktail" for the true novice and more "how to use fresh seasonal ingredients to make your own ingredients" for the home enthusiast that might not have ever thought to make their own mixers rather than using store bought. With step by step photos to illustrate and try and take away the intimidation factor of believing only a commercial kitchen could produce those end results.

I suppose my initial question was more to test the waters and see if there would be any interest in such a thing, without getting figuratively stoned to death by the haters. I didn't really mean to let the cat out the bag quite yet, but Tri2Cook kind of threw me the sucker pitch... :rolleyes:

Someone has to be the Rachael Ray of the cocktail world. No one to my mind has truly brought this to the masses yet. Might as well be me, dontcha think? :biggrin:

I think it's a great subject for a book, but I would not describe it as the Rachael Ray of the cocktail world (not that I have anything against her -- I think her early books and shows play an important role for beginning cooks.

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I suppose the Rachael Ray analogy in my mind is more that she didn't get people to cook that couldn't or didn't know how to boil water, but got folks that liked to cook a little bit more into thinking about the subject a little harder, planning their shopping and cooking more wisely and introduced them to flavors or items they might have been unfamiliar with or intimidated by before.

YMMV.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Wanting to have your confidence and skill set be equal to someone that makes a living doing it is admirable. Just don't put myself and my cohorts out of business, OK? :wink:

No worries there. There are no cocktail bars, craft or crap, withing at least 5 hours of where I live so learning to do it myself at home is my only real option. If I had a quality local cocktail bar where I could pop in for a drink or two, my home bar would probably be of significantly less interest to me. I have this all or nothing thing that doesn't usually let me dabble lightly though. Once I decide to learn something, I tend to jump in with both feet.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Katie -- Good luck with your project. Sounds fun.

I understand the market positioning that you are targeting. Certainly making fresh ingredients (or even just using fresh ingredients) is a big step forward for someone whose idea of a Margarita starts with a bottle of mix.

It sounds like you are also attacking cocktail construction. Some books help the reader understand cocktail families. Helping readers create new cocktails within families (and even outside them) would be great.


Kindred Cocktails | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

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Thanks Dan! I hope the explanation above made it all make more sense. I'm certainly not self-impressed enough to think I can move mountains or intransigent non-bartenders to new heights of cocktail craft. But if folks aren't intimidated by the idea of making cocktails at home in the first place, then trying to replicate house made ingredients that might be in the delicious signature cocktails they might have had at their favorite restaurant or bar isn't completely out of the question. In the introduction I talk about how being a genius bartender has a lot more to do with actually TENDING a bar than it does about knowing how to boil water and sugar and hit the start button on the blender. The latter is an achievable goal for almost anyone that isn't completely kitchen impaired. :smile:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Does this e-book have the recipe for PDT's Mariner cocktail? I'm specifically looking for how they make their cardamom syrup.

I just checked and it does not contain that recipe.


"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure

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Cardamom syrup isn't hard to do. Whether or not the strength of it is equivalent in flavor to the original is the issue. A simple cardamom syrup can be made thusly:

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

6 cardamom pods

Make a basic 1:1 simple syrup with water and sugar. Add cardamom pods and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and puree in blender (carefully holding a towel over the top so it doesn't blow up when you start it). Allow to cool overnight and strain through a fine mesh strainer. A gold coffee filter works well for this application.

Having never tried this cocktail (which sounds delicious) I have no idea how they're doing theirs, but this is how I do my own cardamom syrup. If it's too strongly flavored it can always be diluted with more plain simple syrup to the appropriate flavor level. But if it's too weak you have to start over. It's not like over salting soup. You can salvage stuff if it's too strong. It's harder to put more flavor in than to reel it back, if that makes sense.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Theirs is "smoked cardamom" syrup, BTW. Not sure what makes it "smoked."

The Mariner:

2 oz Compass Box Scotch

1/2 oz Smoked cardamom simple syrup

1/4 oz Pineapple juice

1/4 oz Lemon juice

Lemon peel

Stir with ice in a rocks glass. Twist a lemon peel over the drink and drop in glass.


"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure

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I wonder which Compass Box scotch they mean. I haven't tried them, but they sure sound pretty different from each other.


Edited by EvergreenDan (log)

Kindred Cocktails | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

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Oh. Didn't see that part. I suspect then that the cardamon pods are run through a smoker first, prior to being simmered and made into syrup? That could be done on a small screen or something...

The Compass Box scotches are all radically different from each other. This recipe needs to specify which one they mean, because drink would taste very different with the Peat Monster (Laphroaig-like) than it would with the Oak Cross (more like a blended), for example.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Oak Cross, sorry, I neglected to mention that.


"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure

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That makes a lot more sense with the Oak Cross. Might be one of the few Compass Box bottlings I'd bother to mix with, at least as the base spirit in a cocktail.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Anybody had a peek at the book Ultimate Guide To Spirits & Cocktails by Andre Domine? Noticed it on Amazon after having decided to take the plunge on KS2. Looks as those his past books focus on wine and cooking and there are only 2 reviews so far. Wasn't clear if it was more like KS2 with info on spirits or if it also had a number of cocktail recipes. In any case probably not buying another book right away after paying for KS2.

But there is always Christmas...


If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. ~Mark Twain

Some people are like a Slinky. They are not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs...

~tanstaafl2

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The Depaz aroused my curiosity and so I may give that one a try. I think it had a decent review in KS2 as well although I still don't know quite yet whether my tastes are a particularly close match to the authors. The one thing I was surprised by about the book was not so much what was in it but what was not. With so many spirits out there you can't possibly cover everything but many things I looked for weren't in it. Perhaps I just have bad taste in what I choose to buy...

So over the weekend I decided to look at the gins and genevers listed in KS2 to see whether I was just unlucky in the first few items in my liquor cabinet I tried to look up. There are only 13 pages and 51 gins listed in this edition of the book. This is compared to about 125 pages dedicated just to scotch whisky for example. No doubt there are many more brands and variations of scotch than gin but nearly 10 times as many? It is possible I suppose. The fact that there are over nine pages of Cadenhead's scotch whiskies listed would certainly suggest it is so! Or perhaps the author just likes to drink/review scotch more than gin!

Not having the original I don’t know how many others gins were listed in the original edition that are not carried forward to this one. Unfortunately I also don’t have any accurate denominator data to tell me how many gins are currently made (or more appropriately were available in 2007) but a quick perusal of the internet finds about 100 different brands and variations within brands and so I suspect there were at least that many if not many more than that.

I decided to not count the entire category of Old Tom gin which was presumably resurrected starting with Hayman’s Old Tom in about 2007. There were only 2 brands I knew of off the top of my head (Hayman’s and Ransom) but a brief search suggests there may be a few more around now. Since this book was being put together about the same time as this category of gin was being revived the fact that they were noted as being essentially “extinct” can be forgiven! But it does reflect in my mind just how fast the industry has been changing of late though.

I then took a look at my own liquor cabinet which currently has 15 different gins and genevers. Excluding the two Old Tom gins I have and Citadelle Reserve which was not yet even available by the end of 2007 that leaves 12 fairly commonplace brands to try to find in the book.

Turns out there were 9 of these 12 gins listed in KS2. In addition to Citadelle Reserve, Hayman’s Old Tom and Ransom Old Tom which I had initially excluded the three not listed were Bols Genever, Leopold’s and Tanqueray Rangpur. Tanqueray Rangpur was just released in February 2007 so on the one hand perhaps I should cut this one some slack. But on the other hand this was a new product released from a major player in the gin world so I think it would be reasonable to think it would get an early review from a leader in spirits reviews. Leopold’s had been around for a few years but would not have been in the first edition while Bols is also a pretty big name in the spirits world and I presume it has been available for some time. So I feel I should have a reasonable expectation that both would be listed unless perhaps Bols was found in the first edition.

So I suppose 75% of my liquor cabinet is a pretty decent result especially if you presume the book only has at most about 50% of the brands of gins that would have been reasonably available at the time it was published. Since the brands in my modest liquor cabinet are pretty much common ones the focus of the book logically enough would appear to be on what is more commonly available. Still, I think at least two of the ones not present should have been there, if not all three. And I also tend to think of getting 75% as about a “C” average so it would at best get about three stars from me! Recommended but nothing out of the ordinary. That it is relatively unique in what it provides and that it covers many different types of spirits in a single volume is its best selling point I suppose. But does it compete well with a book that focuses on a single type of spirit for completeness in covering a single category? Perhaps not. I will have to see how Gary Regan’s ”The Bartenders Gin Compendium” holds up in a similar comparison to my liquor cabinet.

Speaking of three stars I was curious to see that of the nine brands listed (Aviation, Bluecoat, Boomsma Oude Genever, Cadenhead’s Old Raj (110 proof), Citadelle, Hendrick’s, Magellan, Plymouth and Tanqueray) four of them carried 3 stars while the other four carried the presumably elusive 5 star rating. Bluecoat was the outlier with the somewhat controversial 1 star rating. Having tried Bluecoat for myself I have to conclude he had a bad batch as has been discussed here and elsewhere. But I also think he did the brand a disservice that ran contrary to his own stated philosophy. On page 4 in the section on “inputting” he notes that he will “sometimes return to a product if I feel that there’s a possibility that I’ve been overly harsh or euphoric”. Presumably being as plugged into the spirits review world he would have known that others did not find Bluecoat to be as execrable as he described it and would want to perhaps return to the product to be sure. There is no evidence that he did that as best as I can tell though. In any case it is certainly an outlier.

I have no real idea what, if anything, any of this means. But it was an interesting diversion to me whilst consuming a cocktail or two! Might also try a similar comparison of tequila’s and mescals just to see how that turns out.


Edited by tanstaafl2 (log)

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. ~Mark Twain

Some people are like a Slinky. They are not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs...

~tanstaafl2

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      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

    • By umami5
      Has anyone come across a digital version of Practical Professional Cookery (revised 3rd edition) H.L. Cracknell & R.J. Kaufmann.
      I am using this as the textbook for my culinary arts students and a digital version would come in very handy for creating notes and handouts.
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