Induction Cooktops Offer Chefs Choices
QUESTION: My old gas range has about had it, and I am considering replacing it with a “cook like gas” electric induction one. I am concerned about my children’s safety and easy cleanup. How well do these cook?
ANSWER: New electric induction cooktops (and ranges) rival gas for precise and near-instantaneous control over cooking heat. If you are concerned about your children’s safety and easy cleanup, an induction cooktop is clearly the winner.
Before running out and buying an induction cooktop, there are several other, lower-priced cooktops that may meet your needs and your budget. These include halogen and rapid heat ribbon radiant elements.
If you do a broad range of cooking, consider a truly modular electric cooktop. You can pop out one element and plug in a different one in seconds. The optional elements include halogen, nonstick griddle, steamer, wok, rotisserie-grill, deep cooker-fryer, etc.
Induction elements work on a different heating concept. They use a simple magnetic field to heat the pan. The cooktop itself does not create heat. Although a different technology, its results are similar to dishes in a microwave only getting warm as foods cook.
Since there is no hot element under the pan, the heat responds nearly instantly when you turn it up or down. This provides precise control, from cooking a large roast to preparing a fine gourmet sauce. This precise control and no surface heating make induction elements super efficient too.
Induction elements are particularly safe around children. As soon as you remove the pot or pan from the cooktop, the cooktop cools. It will not create any heat until you put the pan back on it and turn it on. It would be unlikely that a child would get burned.
Induction cooktops often include only one or two induction elements along with other elements. You can also buy portable single-element induction units. These are great for entertaining or making gourmet foods. They have 20 heat settings for every possible cooking need.
Halogen elements offer fairly good control of the cooking heat and provide rapid initial heat-up. Halogen elements are actually a combination of a halogen light bulb and a radiant heater in one element.
An excellent feature to consider in any electric cooktop is easy-to-clean electronic touch-top controls. A bridge element, which goes in between two standard round elements, is convenient for very large pots. A built-in stainless steel steamer is handy to keep foods warm and moist.
Write for (or instantly download at https://www.dulley.com) Update Bulletin No. 834--a buyer’s guide to 14 induction, halogen and radiant electric cooktops, features, sizes and shapes. Please include $3 and a business-size self-addressed envelope; mail to James Dulley, Los Angeles Times, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244.
Stop Drip, Save Money With Ceramic Disks
Q: We have two faucets that drip, and I am sure that they push up our water bills. It also drives me nuts at night. What do you think of the European ceramic-disk-style replacement valves?
A: Those dripping faucets can be costing you more than you realize. Even though the dripping water may feel cold, it still may be coming from the hot water side. This can triple or quadruple the costs.
Ceramic-disk faucets are excellent, and American manufacturers are now making them too. These use highly polished, super-hard ceramic disks inside. These seal extremely well and should not wear out.
Letters and questions to James Dulley, a Cincinnati-based engineering consultant, may be sent to James Dulley, Los Angeles Times, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244.