Induction cooktops are becoming more commonplace, thanks in part to their decreasing cost. There are numerous benefits that caterers can expect to see when making the change from electric or gas hobs, writes Alex Neumann from Alliance National.
How does it work?
Induction cooking works by creating an electromagnetic field between the cookware and a copper coil (known as the inductor) that rests beneath the glass or ceramic top.
The field induces an electrical current to flow through the cookware causing resistance which results in ohmic heating.
As the heating method utilises an electromagnetic current, cookware must be made from a ferrous metal (stainless steel or cast iron) and have a flat bottom. In most cases, other materials will not work with an induction cooker due to the lack of necessary magnetic and electrical properties.
However, some ‘all-metal’ models have been produced combining power semi-conductors, high frequency currents and low loss coils.
So, why are kitchens converting? One of the main reasons, and incidentally a key benefit for induction cooking systems is their efficiency when heating food and water.
With the electromagnetic mechanism heating the pan directly it means contents, such as water, can be brought to a near boil in up to 50% less time than electric or gas alternatives.
With rapid optimal temperature capability, coupled with less time needed to cook meals, induction cookers work out cheaper to operate.
In addition, they require less energy per meal than standard electric or gas hobs.
Another advantage is their ability to control temperature with more precision than an electric or gas variant. Having accurate command over the heat generated helps to reduce the risk of under and over cooking.
The temperature consistency also ensures dish flavour and taste will remain uniform throughout service periods.
The final key benefit is the ease of cleaning. With most induction cooktops being made of smooth ceramic or glass, there are no elements that need removing or deconstructing whilst cleaning, like some electric and gas hobs.
Additionally, since induction burners do not heat the surface of the cooktop, any spillages won’t burn onto the surface. Meaning that almost immediately after cooking has finished, the area will be cool enough to simply clean any mess created.
What is best for your kitchen?
With induction becoming ever more prominent, what electromagnetic options are available for caterers looking to invest?
If kitchen staff want to dip their toes in the proverbial water and purchase a cooker without huge financial commitment, Lincat’s Single Hob Tabletop Induction Cooker is an ideal solution.
Being a portable unit makes it perfect in small kitchens where space is limited. With a temperature range of 35°C to 240°C and the durability to be used daily, this light-duty appliance is fantastic for an induction introduction.
For a more all-encompassing solution, the Falcon Dominator ‘Plus’ Induction Oven is a more integrated and complete option.
Possessing both a glass-ceramic hob plate and fan assisted 1/1 gastronorm compatible oven, this model is designed for placement in a high tempo, commercial kitchen.
Furthermore, the induction surface has a built-in pan detection system to ensure that no energy is wasted in the absence of cookware.
Alex Neumann is capital equipment team leader at Alliance National, a leading supplier of catering equipment to the hospitality industry. www.allianceonline.co.uk