How to Cook With an Induction Cooker

by A.J. Andrews

Enameled cast-iron cookware is commonly used with induction cookers.

dish image by dinostock from Fotolia.com

Induction cookers work by using a copper coil to transfer an alternating current through a glass cook top to a cooking vessel. The current heats the cookware that sits on the cook top, which acts as a neutral conduit. The cook top does not retain or transfer heat. Although several metals conduct electricity, the permeability of iron makes it the ideal substance to facilitate induction cooking. Modern induction cookers were introduced to the domestic market in 2006, although the technology was first patented in the United Kingdom in 1906.

Acquire cooking equipment compatible with an induction cooker. Cookware must have a high iron content at its contact point with the induction cooker’s surface to function properly. Stainless steel and cast-iron cookware respond well to induction cooking, and the density of the latter promotes even heat distribution and retention. However, since the ferromagnetic properties of stainless steel cookware vary among manufacturers, use a common magnet to indicate if a piece of cookware is suitable for induction cooking; an induction-ready pot or pan will readily attract a magnet.

Control the heat. Certain cooking techniques must be modified for ideal results. For instance, the classic sauté method, which involves lifting of the pan and tossing its contents so all the food's surfaces receive heat, will not produce the same results on an induction cooker. The moment a pan loses contact with the induction cooker’s surface, the transfer of heat ceases, so contact must remain constant. In the case of sautéing, a spoon or other utensil should be used to mobilize the contents of the pan.

Monitor a food item’s response to induction cooking. The rapidity and uniformity of heat transfer via an induction cooker shortens cooking times. For instance, two quarts of water reaches its boiling point (212 degrees F) in four minutes and 46 seconds; the same amount of water takes as much as nine minutes and 50 seconds to reach 212 degrees F on a traditional cook top.

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About the Author

A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.