What Is Induction Cooking And How Does It Work?
Chances are, you’ve heard the term “induction cooking” before. But what is induction cooking? Here I’ll explain how an induction cooktop works. Induction cooking is kind of like radio. It’s so commonplace that a lot of people don’t really know how it works at all. Well, it's not really that complicated. A knowledge of how induction cooking works won’t make you any better at boiling eggs. But it will help you understand how this amazing technology works so well! Keep reading for a better understanding of this everyday science, and its history.
A Brief History of Induction Cooking
To better understand induction cooking, it is necessary to understand what induction is. Induction was discovered in 1831 by the physicist Michael Faraday. If you’re really interested you can follow that link. But without getting too deep into it, induction is the creation of an electric current by the interaction of electromagnetic fields. That’s a little more complicated than “Fire heats the pot”, isn’t it?
This kind of cooking has been rapidly increasing in popularity in recent years. But it was actually invented just over one hundred years after induction was discovered. Models began to become available to American consumers in the 1970’s after NASA began developing the technology, The problem was it remained a loud, expensive, and inefficient novelty for some time. Countries in Europe and Asia that had limited access to natural resources like gas continued to use and develop induction technology. In 2000 materials and electronics breakthroughs combined to advance induction technology. Now it is quiet, energy efficient, and becoming more affordable.
So What Is An Induction Cooktop?
So how does all of that explain how induction cooktops work? Coils beneath the cooking surface generate electromagnetic fields. When these fields come into contact with cookware made of ferrous metals an electric current is generated in the cookware. The end result is that the cookware is heated without the use of fire or electric heat, as is used in older cooking surfaces. Incidentally, cooking with electricity, gas, or wood is formally called “conduction cooking”. This is because the cookware “conducts” heat from the heat source. This is different than induction cooking, which more or less turns the cookware into its own heat source.
Induction science has a great many implications when cooking. Induction cooktops are safer than gas because there’s no open flame (or any gas, which has its downsides even when it isn’t used for cooking). Induction cooktops are also safer than electric stoves, because the pot gets hot, not the stove. This means that the cooking surface cools much faster than regular cooking surfaces once the cookware is removed.
This kind of cooking also heats the cookware more evenly than conduction cooking methods. This is because the cookware doesn’t get significantly hotter at the cooking surface than anywhere else. This even heating of the cookware means that liquids or foods burning to the bottom of the cookware isn’t as much of a problem. There’s also added energy efficiency because of the smaller amounts of electricity required to maintain induction cooking. Also, less heat is lost to the surrounding area as the cookware is heated directly.
The Future of this Great New Trend in Cooking
We’ve discussed what induction cooking is, but is there such a thing as induction baking? Because of how induction works, it’s used mainly for stove tops right now. Induction ranges typically combine an induction stove top with a convection oven. But at least one company is exploring the creation of an induction oven. Panasonic’s induction oven is scheduled to be available in the U.S and Canada in the near future. The oven needs other technologies (namely infrared) in addition to induction in order to get the job done. And, most serious cooks won’t be too thrilled about the small size of the model, but it’s a step in the right direction. Still, induction enthusiasts may have to keep using their conduction ovens for a while.
What is induction cooking? Now you know! Induction cooking is the heating of food using electric currents generated through the interaction of electromagnetic fields in the cooktop and in the cookware. In addition to being able to show off your knowledge in conversations around the kitchen, you can put it to use at the store. Show that appliance salesman that you know what you're talking about!