It is perfectly possible to cook without using much energy. What isn't so easy is getting advocates of gas cooktops (who argue that real flame improves flavour) and induction advocates (who argue that hygiene should be the top priority ) to agree—not to mention the ceramic cooktop die-hards (who say that no one cooks as comfortably as they do).
This controversy is present at all levels, from the top chefs who support (and advertise) one system or another to the home cooks who want to cook the way they live. Or live the way they cook? In either case, the answer is the same: they want to live and cook well.
Induction, gas or ceramic?
One thing is for sure: each option has its pros and its cons, so it's best to choose one based on how you're going to use it and, most importantly, based on your priorities in the kitchen... and in life.
Induction: clean and fast
A cook using an induction cooktop might introduce herself as an express chef: these days, it's the fast, modern cooking solution.
Even though at first glance it may look like a glass or ceramic plate, the magic is on the inside. When it turns on, it doesn't get hot. If you put your hand on it, you don't get burnt. This is because it uses electromagnetic waves to heat the pot or pan (rather than classic electrical resistors).
An induction stove works because it magnetises the material in the pot or pan. For this to work, induction uses specific kinds of cookware: pots, pans and saucepans that must be made of magnetic material (chiefly iron, cobalt or nickel). Since these materials are magnetised, they become internally agitated and energy is released in the form of heat.
- You can cook faster: at about twice the speed of normal ceramic cooktops. Water boils quickly and your dishes are ready in a jiff, which is something that many chefs value highly..
- They are very safe: if you have little kids at home, induction gives you the peace of mind that they won't get burnt, no matter how hard they try.
- Food doesn't stick: since the heat doesn't transfer from the cooktop to the surface of the pan, your rice won't stick, and you can say goodbye to crusted-on burnt food that you have to scrub away. You can also say goodbye to the little bits of food that fall onto the cooktop itself, where they become petrified.
- They're the most efficient: ahead of gas and ceramic.
- They're only compatible with certain kitchenware: specifically with pots and pans made of magnetisable material (mostly metals and stainless steel, as well as enamel-clad cookware). Aluminium, terracotta, ceramic and copper pots and pans don't work with induction stoves. They simply won't heat up.
- They're expensive: they cost about twice as much as a ceramic plate with the same size and power.