Electricity we understand, gas we know but induction cooking can be a bit of a mystery and until recently has been prohibitively expensive for many people. Improvements in technology and reduced costs mean this is no longer the case and induction cooking is fast becoming a popular choice.
In a nutshell, induction cooking uses powerful electromagnets to create a magnetic field between the pan, which needs to have a high iron content, and a coil beneath the glass top. If there is nothing magnetic on the hob (like little fingers or a stray piece of food) there will be no heat – a great safety feature for young families. Once the hob detects something magnetic, it heats up in a flash. The difference between induction and a basic electric hob is that with induction it is the pan that heats up, not the hob. Once the pan is removed, the hob will be cool.
These features make induction cooking instant, efficient and highly controllable, even more than gas the professionals say. What’s more, the smooth surface of the hob looks fabulous and is incredibly easy to clean – a quick wipe will do it, no more scrubbing heavy pan supports.
The speed and efficiency of induction makes it cheaper to run than other types of hob although don’t expect huge reductions in your energy bill; cooking accounts for only a small fraction of the average household’s bill.
Aside from slightly higher costs on purchase, the only other downside is that you will need iron or steel pans. Copper, aluminium and Pyrex are not suitable so if you have a large collection of favourite pans that are not iron or steel you could be in for some additional expense. Some might see a silver lining in that – it’s always nice to have an excuse to update kitchenware.
Join us on 19 November to see induction cooking in action with Home Economist Alison Haigh. Alison will be using a range of Neff products and will be cooking up some easy family favourites.