Making dinner with an electromagnet may seem improbable to cooks who have grown up with traditional natural gas and electric cooktops, but it's becoming a reality as induction cooktops gain in popularity. Induction cooking is widespread in Europe and Asia, but increased availability, selection and lower appliance prices – as well the desire to convert to energy-efficient technologies – have made induction appealing to many cooks in North America as well.
How does induction cooking work? It's really very simple. An induction cooktop contains an electromagnetic coil beneath a ceramic cooking surface. When the coil is turned on it generates a magnetic field that will only heat up the cookware. It doesn't heat up the cooking surface. Induction cooktops also contains sensors to determine if induction-capable cookware is on the surface – if not, they won't turn on.
In order to use induction cooktops, you need to have the right kind of cookware. Most Calphalon stainless steel, as well as all Calphalon pre-seasoned cast iron and enamel cast iron cookware, will work on induction cooktops. If you're not sure if your stainless steel cookware is induction capable, turn it over and check the bottom. Induction-capable Calphalon cookware is clearly marked. You can also check compatibility with a simple magnet; if it sticks to the bottom of the pan, you can use it to cook on an induction cooktop.
Calphalon AccuCore Stainless Steel cookware
Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel cookware
There are many other benefits to induction cooking. It brings water to boil faster than gas or electric cooktops, and it's incredibly energy efficient. In fact, 90% of the energy used is transferred directly to the pan for cooking, versus only about 40% for gas stoves. Because the ceramic cooktop surface is not magnetic, it stays cool throughout the cooking process – keeping you and your kitchen at a more comfortable temperature. And a cool cooktop means that accidental spills aren't burned on and hard to clean.
Are you curious about induction cooking, but not ready to get rid of your gas range just yet? Portable induction cooktops are available. They sit on your countertop, and are a great option when you need extra cooking space, or just want to try something new to expand your culinary experience.