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Induction burners are awesome. The smooth surface makes it easy to keep them clean and they put an end to slow cooking times when you’re in a rush.
But can we use cast equipment made of iron on them or will iron scratch induction cooktops, or fail to work effectively with the electric coil? Let’s take a look and find out.
Cast iron is different from other types of cookware, and it’s easily identifiable by its weight.
Cast iron pans such as cast iron skillets weigh an awful lot more than their stainless, aluminum, non-stick alternatives.
But everyone knows that as long as you buy induction cooker-ready lighter stainless steel pans, then you can easily use them on a flat surface induction cooktop.
Using cast iron in the cooking process raises questions about their utility with induction cookers.
Induction cooking is very simple. It works by placing a coil of copper wire underneath the ceramic glass cooktop surface.
You switch on your stove and the induction cooktop is heated by the heat created by passing alternating electric current flows through the copper wire. The high temperatures are caused by heat resistance and electric resistance in the wire.
When you place a metal pan on top of the stove, you enable the electric current to be inducted into the pan – this is more effective than just heating the pan from below. Thus, induction heating on an induction stove tends to allow for faster cooking than on a standard burner.
A heat ring is a raised ring on the base of the pan. Whether you use cast iron, enameled cast iron, steel, etc. you will find that you should have one of these rings on the pan.
This was, originally, used to lift a pan off the surface of a wood burner. Today, we keep these not as a nod to traditional cast iron cookware but as a way of stabilizing pans cheaply.
It’s impossible to make cast ironwork that’s perfectly flat to sit on the surface of induction cooktops, so instead, we use a ring and this is better than a bare cast iron skillet base at remaining stable.
OK, so how do you know if a pan will work on induction cooktops? It’s actually very easy – only ferrous metals work on an induction cooktop. And that means you can test them with a magnet – magnetic steel and cast iron will pass the test, as will enameled cast iron (as long as you keep the magnet on the metal, not the enamel).
Note: a rusty pan may not have the magnetic properties that you’re hoping for, make sure to remove any rust before adding this kind of pan to the stove.
Now that you’ve been assured that your pan is cast iron and will work, you should clean and season the pan and ensure that the cooking surface is also clean. Hygiene is always a vital aspect of good cooking.
Cast iron work doesn’t much like sudden temperature changes. If you heat it up too fast, then you might find the cast iron starts to crack or warp.
So, it’s best just to preheat your cast iron (or enamel cast iron) in a low heat for a few minutes. You can then turn up the heat without taking your cast iron or enameled cast iron limits beyond where they can go.
When you use an induction burner, cast iron works best when you match the width of the pan to the burner.
Induction cooking work is best done efficiently, if you want to generate heat unevenly then you pick a pan much bigger or smaller than the width of the plate.
Does iron scratch ceramic glass? Not very often.
The truth is that this kind of glass is much, much harder than the glass on your watch screen or even your mobile phone.
An enameled cast-iron pan is unlikely to ever scratch the glass and the only way that an ordinary one might cause a cast iron scratch is if you have a rough or damaged surface on the heat ring.
Your induction stove is pretty hardy if you treat it right.
Iron pans work very well on induction stoves as long as you use the tips laid out above.