How to Choose the Right Cookware for Your Induction Hob

Induction cooking technology is undoubtedly a great investment for any commercial kitchen, providing a range of safety features, improved cooking processes, efficiency and cost benefits - which are just a few of its valuable plus points. However, if you find your pans are not heating up properly and your induction equipment is lacking in power, it’s likely to be down to the material of the pan that you’re using!

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Induction powered cooking hobs generate heat through a combination of components, which includes; a generator, a coil, a high-frequency electromagnetic field and magnetic cookware. As the pot or pan is a key component of induction cooking technology, the type of pan used can have a direct effect on the performance of the technology itself.

It’s important that a pan has very good electrical resistance if it’s to function on induction. If the pan is made, for example, from aluminium, copper, silver or gold, a current that’s too high can flow in the base of the pan, meaning no heat will develop. Additionally, many assume that all magnetic pans work on induction; but this is not always the case.

When considering the performance of pans for cooking purposes, the base of the pan does not play a major role. The overall material and thickness of the pan is what affects the distribution and consistency of heat.

If you’re often confused with which pans are compatible and work best with induction hobs, below explains the different types of induction-friendly cookware available.

COMPOSITE BASE

The ‘composite’ describes the base of the pan, which is made from several layers. This usually consists of, a thick middle layer of aluminium or copper, and a thin steel alloy base. The body of composite base pans may be either aluminium, copper or a high-grade steel alloy.

Composite base pans are great for heat distribution; however, aluminium and copper can deteriorate through the use of cleaning agents.

MULTI-LAYER

Multi-layer pans are made entirely from either one layer and/or several layers of material, without changing the actual base. The interior layer is typically made of high-grade steel, the core made of aluminium and the external layer made of high-grade steel.

Multi-layer pans react rapidly to changes of power in the pan, giving excellent temperature control. If the pan walls are the same thickness as the base, the heat-up speed is very fast especially if the pot has a lot of food contents in it. However, if the pot only has a small amount of food inside, a lot of heat is lost to the walls of the pan. If the pan has a thin base, little heat transfer can take place, and there will be uneven heat distribution within the pan. Typically, multi-layer pans have good non-stick qualities and are very easy to keep clean.

CAST IRON

These pans are made from 100% cast iron and have magnetic qualities suitable for cooking with induction.

Cast-iron pans have good heat storage properties. However, they are heavy and take longer to build up heat, due to the material thickness. Typically, cast-iron pans have rough surfaces and therefore, can be difficult to keep clean.

PRESSED BASE

These pans are made from cast aluminium with an induction compatible layer. The aluminium casting is then pressed or melted into this. In most cases, pressed pans are compatible for use with induction; but not all.

When considering the materials of the pan, if an aluminium ring is used on the outer edge of the pan base, this can act like a magnetic short circuit. This means that if the coil is smaller than the pressed pan base the pan can still function. If, however, the coil is larger than the pan, the aluminium ring attempts to heat up, which causes poor performance within the pan.

Pressed pans are typically light weight and provide good heat distribution.

Here at Target Catering Equipment, we recommend Demeyere commercial grade cookware suitable for use with our commercial induction hobs. We’re also on hand to provide you with advice on the best accessories for your hob, in addition to cookware maintenance.

To find out more contact us here.

How Do Target Induction Hobs Work?

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Here at Target Catering Equipment, we believe that induction hobs are not only more environmentally friendly and safer than other hob types, but they’re also more efficient and perfectly suited to many different cooking styles. Additionally, induction hobs use much less energy and can be powered by renewable energy sources.

The process behind their function is slightly different to other traditional types such as gas and radiant plate hobs and we think that learning how induction hobs work will not only help you understand the technology, but also help you to get the most out of your appliance, enabling you to produce great quality food time after time.

Unlike other hob types, our induction hobs do not radiate heat from the source - i.e. from a flame or heated plate. The heat is actually generated through the pan itself, hence why the pan heats up, but the hob surface remains cool. Underneath the glass surface is an electrical circuit which, when completed, allows the user to cook food.

The circuit begins with a generator, which when the hob is switched on, sends an electrical current through a copper coil - this creates a high-frequency electromagnetic field. For the circuit to be completed, an induction-friendly magnetic pan must be recognised by the pan sensor located beneath the hob glass. Heat convection then takes place within the pan, allowing cooking processes to begin.

1. Copper Coil  2. Elecromagnetic Field  3. Heat Generated

1. Copper Coil

2. Elecromagnetic Field

3. Heat Generated

During cooking, the glass hob remains cool since the heat is emitted from the pan itself rather than the surface - and as soon as the pan is removed, the circuit is terminated, thus turning the hob off. This is a much safer cooking method to use within busy commercial kitchens as burns are much less likely to occur and fire risks can be greatly reduced; not to mention the overhead cost reduction thanks to the energy savings that induction hobs generate.

Since the cool surfaces help in maintaining a lower room temperature, induction hobs are also great for industrial kitchen environments. Additionally, thanks to their flat surfaces and specific requirements for use (i.e. magnetic pans), these hobs can be safely used as extra worksurfaces when not in use.

At Target Catering Equipment, we offer a range of induction hobs and commercial induction ranges. To take a look at our products in more detail, please see here.

Why Choose Induction Hobs Over Gas Hobs?

Choosing the right hob for you can often be a challenge - especially considering the wide range of options available. Induction hobs are undoubtedly on the upper end of the price spectrum and considered an investment for many businesses, however they most certainly offer a great return given their functional and environmental benefits.

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Here at Target Catering Equipment, we’ve considered the advantages and disadvantages of gas hobs and kept these in mind when developing our bespoke commercial induction suites by incorporating the very latest commercial induction hob technologies.

Using gas hobs in any commercial kitchen - large or small, can make for an extremely heated environment, creating tough working conditions for chefs. We believe in providing only the best catering equipment to make cooking an enjoyable yet efficient experience.

Induction hobs only consume energy when an induction-friendly pan is placed on the cooktop. This action completes the electrical circuit. The hob and induction element itself always remain cool and automatically switches off when the pan is removed; thus, heat is only emitted from the pan rather than the hob. This creates a whole range of safety benefits, whilst also keeping kitchens cooler. Additionally, compared to the 40% energy efficiency of gas hobs, induction hobs are 90% energy efficient completing cooking tasks much quicker - so the return on your investment is much greater. The maintenance requirements are also comparatively low, making the day to day running of the kitchen a much less stressful experience.

In addition to cooler cooking environments, induction hobs are much safer for industrial use since there’s a lower risk of fire and staff injuries - allowing the working day to run more smoothly. This highly effective cooking method allows for consistent production of quality food at a more efficient rate, ultimately improving customer turnover and profit.

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Induction hobs are an extremely smart range of hobs, making cooking easy and safe without having to compensate on the quality of food or service. These hobs offer highly accurate temperature control, whilst also reducing the risk of food spoilage, and the chances of staff misuse is greatly reduced thanks to its simplistic and safe design. Induction hobs are also incredibly flexible in use compared with gas hobs, since they support a whole range of cooking styles and the cool, flat surface can be used as extra space for preparation when not in use.

Above all else, induction hobs are environmentally friendly. Unlike gas hobs, there is minimal risk of wasted energy being emitted into the atmosphere and can be powered by renewable energy sources. These hobs can greatly reduce your company’s impact on the environment, whilst improving overall sustainability for the business.

Induction hobs are cost effective, multi-functional, flexible and great for the environment - allowing for efficient, guilt-free cooking all day long.

To view our vast range of induction hobs, Click Here.

Guide to Commercial Plancha Cooking

Having recently introduced the commerical induction plancha as a bespoke induction range configuration option, Target brings to you a guide on plancha cooking, explaining the differences between electric griddles, electric planchas and induction planchas.

THE DEFINITION OF 'PLANCHA COOKING' IS, TO COOK FOOD DIRECTLY ON A HOT OILED PLATE.


Electric Griddle

Electric Griddle

Electric Plancha

Electric Plancha

Induction Plancha

Induction Plancha

All three pieces of equipment listed above are typically hot metal plates used to cook food directly on. The type of metal plate will vary from each manufacturer of product, with each having different conductivity characteristics.

Heating Technology

How the hot metal plate is heated will affect the characteristics of the plate surface, resulting in different outcomes when cooking.

Electric Griddle

The electric griddle most commonly uses rod elements for heating the griddle plate surface. This type of electrical element is the slowest to react to change in temperature setting and can deliver inconsistent surface temperatures, with hotspots where the element is directly below or in contact with the metal surface.

Electric Plancha

The electric plancha or French plancha, as it is sometimes called, typically uses a filament element for heating the plancha plate surface. Filament elements tend not to cover the entire surface of the plate and rely on heat dispersion to distribute heat across the surface. This results in graduated temperatures from hot to cool from the middle to the edge of the plancha cooking surface, a characteristic similar to the gas solid top.

Heat up times of the electric plancha from 20°C to 230°C takes approx. 20-30minutes. However, this temperature would not be consistent across the entire plancha plate. 

Induction Plancha

The induction plancha uses the same type of coil elements as used with induction hobs. The induction coil element covers the entire plancha plate surface, optimizing operational efficiency by providing uniform heat distribution from corner to corner.

The speed of temperature control depends on the composition of metal used in the plate surface, however, is by far the fastest out of the three equipment types. The instant energy transmission from induction coil to plancha plate surface allows for fast start up times, for example;

The commercial induction plancha used in Target induction ranges heats up from 20°C to 230°C in just 4½ minutes on the single zone 3.5kW induction plancha and just 3 minutes on the single zone 5kW induction plancha.  

Temperature Monitoring & Recovery

For consistent cooking precise temperature monitoring is required.

Electric Griddle

Electric griddle plates are typically manufactured from mild steel which is a cheaper material when compared to chrome plated steel or composite stainless steel. Mild steel has relatively poor conductivity properties and therefore is affected when cold produce contacts the surface, fluctuating cooking temperatures. 

The rod elements used for heating the plate are thermostatically controlled and regulate the temperature of the cooking surface. Temperature regulation is electro mechanical, with a poor degree of accuracy and reactiveness, which results in users having to move product around the griddle as temperatures vary across the grill plate.

Electric Plancha

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Quality electric plancha plates are manufactured from thick steel, this maximises thermal retention and minimises fluctuations in surface temperatures when cold produce contact the surface. However, the use of thick steel reduces the conductivity which means heat up and temperature change times are prolonged. 

Surface temperatures are monitored using a temperature probe, situated between the plate and the element. However, the probe is usually unable to read the temperature at the centre of the element where it is hottest and can therefore be unreliable when it comes to temperature control.

The heat retention characteristics of the plancha plate minimises fluctuations in the surface temperature, therefore, there would need to be a dramatic drop for the probe to detect a change and bring the plate back to the temperature it was set at.

Induction Plancha

The commercial induction plancha plate is a composite of different metals. The induction plancha plates that are used in Target ranges are made up of steel and aluminium. Joining the magnetic characteristics required for use of induction technology with the heat conductivity characteristics found with aluminium. Combined, results in fast heat up times and rapid temperature control.

Having a thinner metal plate means the cooktop is more susceptible to plate temperature change, which occurs when cold food is placed on the plate, however this can be overcome with the use of RTCSmp® (Real-Time Temperature Control System Multi Point) providing precise temperature monitoring across the entire cooking surface.

RTCSmp® uses multiple sensors embedded across the plancha plate surface to detect a deviation in temperature as small as one-half degree, the temperature is then automatically adjusted in that specific area, providing a highly consistent, responsive, surface to cook on. 

Not only does the RTCSmp® regulate the temperature of the cook zone, the technology also monitors continuously in real-time, the energy supply and the state of the components such as the induction coil. Should a malfunction occur, the integrated fault diagnostic system reports the malfunction instantly to the user. 

Correct Operation

Although seemingly similar to a solid top appliance, all three pieces of equipment featured in this guide are intended to be used for cooking produce directly on, without the use of a pan.

By using a pan on any of these pieces of equipment you run the risk of creating hot spots on the plate as heat can be conducted back into the surface which can cause plates to warp and can also create malfunctions in the technology systems beneath.

For those looking for an energy efficient alternative to the gas solid top, where multiple pans are to be used for cooking, a graduated slide top induction hob with single control is the best like for like option currently available on the market from Target Catering Equipment.

Overview

  • The electric griddle offers an appliance with a surface that delivers inconsistent temperatures across the plate with long heat up times and provides limited temperature controllability.
  • The electric plancha surface delivers gradient temperatures from the centre to the edges of the plate, suitable for varying product finishes. The plate characteristics result in longer heat up and temperature change reaction times.
  • The commerical induction plancha surface delivers consistent temperatures across the entire plate surface, suitable for cooking quantities of produce to the same finish. Heat up times are minimal, and controllability is highly reactive.

The Advantages Of Using Induction Hobs

Gas hobs have long been the first choice for professional kitchens all over the world.  However in recent years we've seen an increasing number of restaurants and catering outlest across the UK and Europe adopting the induction style of cooking.  This method of hob based cooking is not only limited to homeowners, but professional kitchens are choosing to incorporate induction hobs into their new kitchen designs, here's a quick rundown of just why this type of cooking is becoming increasingly widespread.

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