Induction Cooking: Fast, Precise and Energy Efficient
Fast, responsive induction burners are popping up everywhere these days, from homes to restaurants. And of course the Hestan Cue relies on induction technology. But do you really know what’s going on under the glass cooktop? What does induction even mean?
“Induction is just another way of applying heat and energy,” says Andre Nguyen, Hestan Cue’s Director of Culinary Science. “But it’s not radiant heat, like gas, it’s based on electromagnetism. We’re taking a magnetic field and oscillating it very quickly so that the molecules in the pan start vibrating and that generates friction and heat in the pan.”
In other words, induction uses powerful electromagnets to create a magnetic field. When something with iron comes into that field the iron molecules move so fast they heat up.
The coolest part, quite literally, is that only the pan heats up. The area of the glass cooking surface that comes into direct contact with the pan will get hot too, but only because the pan transferred some of its heat to it. Once you remove the pan the cooktop cools off pretty quickly. This means you’re far less likely to burn yourself or catch something on fire.
As an added bonus, any spills and slops that hit the cooktop won’t bake into burnt-on crud. And the smooth glass surface is incredibly easy to clean.
“It’s also a very efficient form of heating,” says Ngyuen. “About 90 percent of the energy produced goes directly into generating heat in the pan.”
This makes induction cooking an environmentally friendly heat source, especially if the electricity comes from renewable energy, and it can save money too. “If you look at places where gas is expensive, like certain parts of Europe and Asia, they cook with electric and induction because gas is so expensive.”
Speedy and precise
This energy efficiency also has a big affect on your cooking because the pan heats up far faster. On average, water boils three to four minutes quicker using induction heat than with radiant heat like gas or electric coils.
Another big advantage of induction heat? “You can have precise control over the magnetic field,” says Ngyuen. “At Hestan Cue we’re taking advantage of this by using software to control the process of making that magnetic field. With the sensor in the pan we can manipulate the electronics to a fine degree so that the pan can maintain the precise temperature.”
Of course, the technology won’t work if you don’t have a pan with iron in it. Carbon steel and stainless steel work if they’re magnetic grade (i.e. they have a bit of iron). Cast iron works great, even enameled cast iron. But glass, copper and aluminum pans can be tricky. “A lot of aluminum pans have stainless steel embedded so they are compatible,” says Nguyen. When in doubt, hold a refrigerator magnet to the bottom. If it sticks, it’ll work.
And if you hear a buzzing noise while you’re cooking, it’s more than likely because the pan isn’t sitting quite flush or it’s empty. “The cooktop doesn’t buzz, but the pan might because it’s vibrating in the magnetic field,” Nguyen says. “It usually happens with an empty pan. Having food or liquid in it dampens the vibration. And certain pans that are poorly constructed or poorly bonded might vibrate too, if the layers are vibrating against each other.”
Cooks who are used to the visual cues of seeing gas flames or bright red coils might think they won’t know how or when to adjust the heat, but that’s never a problem with the Hestan Cue. “With our system itself, you can constantly read the temperature of the pan,” says Nguyen. “You see numbers, you see hard data.”
That’s why Hestan Cue’s induction burner and cooktop are far more than just another heat source. Induction is a highly responsive and energy efficient form of heat, and coupled with the sensors in Hestan Cue’s pans, it allows you to have precise temperature control over whatever you’re cooking.