-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Saturday, May 21, 2005

the dream stove?

Now, I think I'm in dreamland here... although who knows how prices might come down over the next 5 years. But I think I've found the ideal stove for the kitchen at Amherst, as a supplement to the Aga/Rayburn. It's energy efficient, no flames to worry about, and it won't heat up the kitchen (great for cooking on those summer days of 40 degrees). Best of all, no need to bother with gas - which is a problem for us as we're going to have to use gas bottles as there's no mains connection - ironically, despite a gas pipeline running underneath part of our land!

This article in NY Times is what put me onto it. Induction cooktops! Here's an extract:

"Induction cooking has been around for decades, but until now never made it past the swinging doors of restaurant kitchens. The units were too expensive and too fussy and the concept too weird to find a home audience... At Chelsea Fine Custom Kitchens, a shop that caters to the competitive New York cook, Mr. Smeeton demonstrated two Küppersbusch cooktops, one with a special wok unit. "Ice, please," he said, sliding a steel wok into a bowl-shape indentation. He turned the power to high and allowed himself to smile when the ice started boiling before it was fully melted....

Slow cooking has its place, but when you're hungry, fast is so much better. And here was a space-age force, just in time for pasta al pesto and corn on the cob. Induction uses magnetic coils under the cooktop's glass surface to jangle the molecules of iron in the pan, turning the pan into the heat source. Different models offer different amounts of speed and power, but in all cases heat doesn't dissipate into the air so the chef stays as cool as her cucumbers. Shut down the magnetic field and cooking stops instantly. Remove the pan and the glass surface is barely warm. Indeed, Mr. Smeeton said, spills do not bake on, leaving nothing to clean up beyond the fingerprints of disbelieving guests.

The new cooktops are sold with a lot of razzle-dazzle. But the true benefits are a little subtler: once you turn off the power you can leave the pan in place; there's no need to shove it aside or lift it off the stove. Induction also holds steady at low temperatures. While experimenting with one model I found it easy to achieve that elusive trickle of bubbles known as "just below a simmer."

Irwin and I dropped by Krup's Kitchen & Bath near Union Square, where a Viking distributor, Robert A. Luyckx, was on hand with a salesman's model that requires only 110 volts, half the usual power... Irwin skeptically poured a bit of oil into a pan and added a half-pound of cold, moist stew meat. He turned the unit to high, and in seconds the oil was sizzling. In less than two minutes the meat was browned.

Viking, the company that did so much to popularize the semiprofessional gas range, now plans to introduce several induction cooktops. One cleverly combines two induction units and two that use regular radiant heat, the better to keep the cost below $2,000 and allow sentimental cooks to keep their copper pots"

I just had a look at Viking's website and they only have two induction models on sale at the moment, but I guess more will come. I also found that they have an Australian distributor in Moorabbin, which is only a few hours away from our farm, so it wouldn't be impossible to get hold of.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If we had know, Ingrid could have explained you this when you met in Tallinn. We are also going to use induction in our house, it's already sure.

Note that not all pans work with induction. They are generally more expensive. You can test if your pans work by holding a magnet against, if the magnet sticks it's ok.