For their Jamestown Net-Zero house, homeowners Don and Dana Powers chose to install an induction stove. They know that this technology offers speed, safety, and energy efficiency, and since they are making electricity with the solar panels on the barn, they want to use electricity for all their appliances.
The method works by magnetic induction (rather than radiation or conduction), so it heats the pot directly, which puts less waste heat into the room. It takes some getting used to, however, as things heat up quickly and food may cook faster than expected. To help explain induction cooking in practice, Chef Will Gilson of Puritan & Company in Cambridge, MA, gave Dana a cooking demo in her kitchen as the house neared completion.
One key point for people new to induction cooking is getting the right pots and pans, so Gilson started there: “You have to have a pot with a heavy bottom that is magnetic, since that’s what is heating up the molecules. A lot of the pans we have in our kitchens aren’t actually magnetic, so the best way to be sure is to take a small magnet and see if it sticks to the bottom of the pan.” Induction-compatible cookware includes cast iron, enameled cast iron, and certain types of stainless steel (the amount of nickel—a magnetic-field blocker—will affect whether a particular type of stainless cookware works or not).
Gilson also prepped and cooked a pasta entrée, using the process to explain many points about induction. Dana was thrilled to get tips from an accomplished chef, particularly one who is a big fan of induction cooking: “It’s fast, clean, and safe,” says Gilson. Not to mention delicious—the TOH crew didn’t leave anything on the table!