September 18, 2009, Newsletter Issue #184: Induction Stoves: Flash In The Pan?

Tip of the Week

New to the United States, this "heatless cooking" method has been used in Europe and Australia for quite some time. It does not require the open flame of a gas stove or the red-hot coil of an electric stove. Instead heat is generated by electromagnetic currents that respond to the metals in your cookware. This way, only the portion of the stove under your pot gets hot, while the rest stays cool to the touch. In the same light, as soon as you remove your pot from the stove, the magnetic bond is broken and the heat dissipates almost immediately. This is a great feature for forgetful cooks and busy cooks with lots of little hands around. These "burners" heat up fast, too. As soon as they receive the magnetic bond between the pot, they generate heat, but not enough to make the kitchen hot.

You should know about the drawbacks of this new technology. These stoves can be expensive, running as high as $1,500 for the 4-burner type. And, if you had a gas stove before, you'll have to rewire for the 240 amps necessary to run an induction stove. When it comes to cookware, only certain metals cause the heat reaction. The cookware needs to be made of a ferrous metal -- one with iron in it -- like cast iron and stainless steel cookware. Copper and aluminum do not engage the reaction. Quick test: hold a magnet to the bottom of your cookware. If it's magnetic, it will work with these new induction stoves.

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