Hillel has cleverly described the point of view I write from as behind the stove, which is kind of true. It’s not the kind of stove you’d think of. No, not even a large 12 burner industrial giant. The stove I stand behind day after day in the pastry department is an induction burner.
A one pot unit no more than 18 inches by 18 inches, standing just 6 inches off the counter, this stove of mine is more closely related to the single coil hot plate than anything. It is light enough to move at will, and can occupy any counter top with a standard outlet near by. Like the single coil hot plate, it relies on electricity for it’s power source, but delivers heat in a very different manner.
By using coils of magnetically charged materiel, the induction sends an electrical current through the coil creating an energy field. A pot placed on the induction cook top will absorb the energy, thus heating it. The food is cooked by the heat in the pan, not the transfer of heat through the pan from an external heat source. Because the glass cook top only transfers magnetic energy, not heat itself, it remains cool to the touch.
The induction cook top does require specific pots and pans made from a materiel that will absorb the magnetic energy. Pots with a large magnetic base plate are designed specifically for this purpose. The pans react to changes in the dial as if you were turning a gas flame up or down, and the surface is beyond easy to keep clean. These stove replacements have taken hold in comercial kitchens, partucularly with caterers needing to take cooking units off site, and it’s not unrealistic to think we will begin seeing these futuristic cook tops in even the most common of kitchen settings.
I, along with other cooks I know, being told over and over again that you must use specific pots and pans on the induction pan, led ourselves to believe that only those pans would conduct heat. I am here to tell you, if you don’t already know, any stainless steel or iron container will conduct heat from an induction burner. That includes a stainless steel container holding 3 pounds of flour. It also does not take long for the bottom of said container to get hot, just the time it takes you to reach for a drum sieve and piece of parchment is apparently pleanty of time to conduct enough heat to melt off part of your palm.
While my hand is very sore and will be for some time (it would have to be my right hand wouldn’t it?) nothing will stave my love for induction cooking.