Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 20, 2017
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Magnetic ability

Would you believe that an electric cooktop could heat water as quickly a gas stove and yet be cool to the touch the moment you take away the pan? Well, believe it. Induction cookers are completely unlike conventional electric hotplates. The glass cooking surface remains cool, only the pot heats up. And since they have no heating element you don't have to worry about anything catching fire.

They produce heat using computer-controlled electro-magnetic energy that bring all the joys of cooking in a well-equipped space without turning the kitchen into an oven.

They measure around 35 by 31 by 6.5 centimetres and weigh less than 1.5 kilograms. Plug one into any 110-volt electrical outlet and you're good to go. I like to cook and own a six-burner commercial Wolf gas range but, truth be told, I prefer the speed, convenience and safety of the induction cooker.

So what's the downside? In order for the cooktop to work, your cookware must be made of a ferrous material and have a flat bottom. A circle of about 15 centimetres in the centre of the cooktop generates the heat, so you want a pot that will move that heat out toward the outer edges. The best cookware is triple-clad stainless steel outside with a non-magnetic core like aluminum or copper.

These days, most new pots display symbols to indicate which burners they're compatible with. Look for the induction symbol — it resembles a continuous loop of cursive "l"s. Alternately, you can check with a magnet: if it sticks, the pan will work. Cast-iron frying pans and iron enamelware are fine, but they don't get the heat out from the centre quite as efficiently. If you invested in high-end cookware that isn't compatible, you can buy an induction interface disk (like the flat bottom of a pot, with a handle) that sits between your cookware and the burner.

Kitchen ranges using the technology can cost thousands but you can try it for around $100. The Max Burton 6000 1800-Watt Portable Induction Cooktop has 10 power levels, Number one is the equivalent of a simmer, 10 will quickly bring a kettle to a rolling boil. It is somewhat noisy when operating. Available at amazon.com for US$99. Amazon.ca offers the similar Salton Induction Cooker at $137.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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