By Barbara Adler
Almost three years ago, after a lengthy bout with Covid, my partner and I very unexpectedly found ourselves buying a modest place in the country to escape from the crowds of the city. The house came equipped with an electric stove, as there’s no gas line there, and it was old and frankly, awful. As an avid cook, I needed to replace it, but gas was not an option. A chef friend touted his induction stovetop, which uses electric rather than gas, and our online research began. But, just three years ago, there actually wasn’t much information to find. Now, of course, the health impacts of cooking with gas dominate environmental news reports, and New York State will ban new buildings from using gas for cooking as early as 2025.
There are many induction stoves on the market, sold by every major dealer. In 2020, with major supply-chain issues (still existing to some extent), there was a year’s wait or longer for many appliances, and we wound up settling for the first induction stove we could get, (a GE Profile). Here’s why I fell in love with it almost immediately:
Induction cooking works using an electromagnetic reaction to what’s inside your pot or pan. It ‘excites’ the molecules in the pan or pot, which in itself I found thrilling, and keeps the stovetop cool. You can put ice-cubes right beside your pot, and they won’t melt while your pot is simmering away! Water boils so fast that if you’re not on top of things, it will bubble so profusely, it leaps out of the pot and steams up everything near it. There are no fire hazards, and cleanup after use is a breeze. If you fear spatters, you can put a paper towel under your pot while cooking to catch them. Lowering the controls has an immediate response, as there’s no pot or rack to cool. These stoves are energy efficient, as you’re cooking in half the time, and they cannot be turned on by accident without a pot on the burner, as there’s nothing to react to generate heat. For those who really care about cooking, induction offers outstanding control.
Like everything, there are downsides. You have to use cookware containing iron. A lightweight aluminum pan or pot won’t do the trick, unless it has an induction-ready bottom with an iron layer hidden under stainless or ceramic. I found that most of my existing cookware worked great, though I did invest in a few new sauté pans. Heavy stainless steel or cast iron are naturals, and the market is now full of reasonably priced induction cookware.
Lastly, the stovetop or range itself costs more than gas. Prices start at under $2,000. As mentioned above, we wound up not having much of a choice, and did without some of the bells and whistles we originally wanted. Nevertheless, we both love it, and are considering replacing our gas stove in the city as well.