Saturday, January 5, 2008

Have you considered the environmental ramifications of your stove? I certainly hadn't before reading the latest from The NY Times (sent to me by both M and our friend S). When you're shopping for a new range, gas or electric may be a more difficult question than you imagined. Especially as most of us haven't considered, or even heard of, other heat methods, like induction. Check it out, you may be re-considering your most important cooking tool.

1 comment:

J said...

My dad sent this to my email, but it's worth considering on this topic:

"I just read the last several days of your blog and followed the NYT link that talked about cooking efficiently. I seriously considered an induction stove when we built the house, but was talked out of it because it would have required replacing most of our pots and pans. This is from a website called The Induction Site" (pasted below)

The most obvious and famous drawback to induction cooking has already been mentioned: it only works with cooking vessels made of magnetic materials. The commonest such materials used for cooking vessels are stainless steel and cast iron. Cookware suited for use with induction cookers, from the extreme high-quality end down to thrift-store modest, is readily available; but if you already have a stock of mostly expensive aluminum or copper or glass or pyrex cookware and little or no cast iron or stainless, you might be up for a cookware investment.

On the other hand, if you have a significant quantity of non-ferrous cookware that is not terribly expensive, you can replace it--possibly with much better stuff!--as part of the process; cast iron is by no means "spendy" cookware. If you have ever seen the inside of a real restaurant kitchen, you will surely have noticed that most or all of the cookware is either cast iron or nice, shiny stainless steel (and most restaurants still use gas because the energy cost--which matters to them as it does not to a residential kitchen, because it's on all day long--is lower). Steel is most cooks' preferred cookware material for many good reasons outside the present scope of this site (and recall that enamelled steel cookware also works beautifully on induction).

(Note that not all stainless-steel cookware works equally well on induction units; much depends on how the maker has assembled the layers of metal of which the pot or pan is made. Do not assume that all cookware labeled "stainless steel" will work on an induction unit--but almost all makers whose products do work, which includes a lot, will proudly say so in their advertising material or specifications.)

As we noted elsewhere, technology to allow use of any metal cookware--even copper and aluminum--is in the pipeline, but there are definite problems with getting sufficient power levels with that technique, so it will likely be many years before units with it start showing up in the mainstream (if they ever do). So, for now, the need for ferric cookware does remain.