I have an admission to make…

I changed my mind about a deeply held personal belief (that gas was the best/only way to cook.

I was wrong, and I admit it.

I’ve wanted a gas range/cooktop in my house ever since I first had a viewing here and saw that it had gas (heat and hot water) but in the kitchen, sat this functional but very electric… Kenmore ceramic top electric range.

Ceramic top electric ranges are easy to clean compared to older style spiral burners and compared to most gas stoves. In fact, you can just take a razor blade like you use for scraping paint to get the really burnt on stuff and the ceramic top is none the worse for the wear

But it’s so horrible for control of heat – pans take forever to respond to changes in the control and with the ceramic top if your pan is even a tiny bit warped on the bottom the contact surface makes horrible hot spots and severely reduces the ability to .. actually cook things.

I’ve had this plan to replace the stove with a gas model – a really high end (expensive) one since I first laid eyes on this house. Since the house has gas it would be a case of having to pay a plumber to pipe into the kitchen – a task I did once before in my previous house. It cost me a few hundred bucks then. However, I also know I want to redo my kitchen – I a specific plan – but it involves knocking down a whole wall, converting a picture window in the dining room into a sliding glass door which itself requires moving a heating register.. it’s pretty much going to be a “gut the kitchen and start over with new floor, ceiling, counters, cabinets, etc.. the only things that would not be totally replaced would be my fridge and dishwasher as I updated those already.

It’s a BIG project – expensive – I’ve been OK with that.

However, that current (pardon the pun) stove is on its last legs – I’ve already had to repair it twice – replacing a heating element as well as a control switch. The ceramic top is scratched from years of wear etc. And several of my pans are warping such that I need to replace them so they contact the bottom. Were it not for COVID-19, I’d likely have already done the kitchen remodel, but alas.

However, I was watching one of my favorite youtube food-related channels, Adam Ragusea, and ran across this video on “cooking with magnets” from 2019.

hmm…

I checked on a few of my other favorite food types (including seeing what Alton Brown had to say on the subject) and discussed the idea with my wife, Miranda, who does most of the cooking. She agreed that we should give it a try

The Sciencing…

We decided to do a bit of an experiment: we bought a counter top induction burner that we could test with. We know that any pan that has a non-magnetic bottom would not be usable. This immediately did put an entry into our “cons” column… we would need to replace a fair amount of our pots and pans. However, as I mentioned, I already was looking to do that with some of them simply because they were a bit wobbly on the bottom.

My biggest surprise there while testing with a magnet though was that I assumed my beautiful and heavy Calphlon stainless steel pans would work beautif… what? the magnet doesn’t stick at all? huh? – I do some research and find that indeed these older pans were made before modern induction cookers.. and were solid 18/10 stainless which is non-magnetic. It seems that modern stainless steel pots and pans which are made with induction in mind have a layer of 18/0 or a disk of 18/0 at the bottom so that they work with magnetic cooktops.

OK, I learned a thing… and part of that thing is that several more of my pots and pans would need replacing.

Still, I had a couple decent pans including some nice nonstick which were modern enough to have a heavy steel disk in their base for induction.

We did end up buying a couple new nonstick pans as all the smaller size (good for omelettes) pans we had were not induction compatible.

We knew really quickly that we liked it.

The puny countertop cook top could heat a kettle of water from faucet-cold to boiling in a bit less than half the time the same kettle took to boil on the standard cooktop. The particular countertop model we got let you set a specific temperature or power level so certain dishes like eggs were (once the learning curve in terms of best temps to set was past) an absolute dream to work with.

So after a few weeks, we were absolutely certain we wanted to go with an induction range, and Frigidaire Gallery line had exactly what we wanted. We got pretty lucky too – the MSRP on this stove is around $2099, but Home Depot had it on sale for $1399. We ordered and it was delivered the same week.

We realized that the Frigidaire did not actually have the same “cook by temperature” control that the countertop model has – this was only a minor disappointment, as we still have the countertop model so we can access that feature if we need to do something super delicate like tempering chocolate, or perhaps other candy making or maybe even frying…

Speaking of frying – one really nifty feature of this oven is that it has an “air fryer” mode – though you may be disappointed to learn that this really just kind of means “broiler with a fan” – the convection oven is very nice and a feature I’ve wanted for some time and basically air frying is just broil with the convection fan on – still, Miranda reported great success air frying fish for fish tacos just last night – it was indeed delicious.

The oven is still only a week old so we don’t really have enough data other than to say that the same kettle of water that took 9.5 minutes on the old stove, took 4.5 minutes on the single burner countertop induction.. took only 2.5 minutes on the induction range. Boiling water and fine, even control of low temps is really where the induction cooktop will stand out and it’s already delivering

Also, being able to cook with a silicone baking mat on the ceramic top keeps the pans from sliding, protects the ceramic and is a really nifty “party trick”

We did go to Costco and buy a decent set of induction-friendly stainless pots and pans and will be committing the old ones to use in the outdoor kitchen and/or doing a tag sale this spring.

Cons:

  • A bit expensive
  • Must have the right (magnetic and preferably very heavy bottom) pots and pans
  • Like the ceramic top electric: warped pans don’t do well

Pros:

  • Way more efficient than gas
  • Doesn’t heat up the kitchen as much as electric and nowhere near as much as gas
  • Wicked easy to clean
  • Cooking with silicone mat protects the ceramic nicely
  • Super fast water boiling
  • Much better / even control of lower heat (doesn’t cycle hi/off to maintain temp like electric)
  • Very reduced risk of fires (the cook top itself stays quite cool and the heat is directed into the pan and is not nearly as over-powered as the heat on standard electric needs to be

In summary: we’re super happy we made the leap.