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lucy waverman

Need some advice about kitchen life and entertaining? Send your questions to lwaverman@globeandmail.com.

As the owner of a superb six-burner gas stove, I was dismayed that there was no gas line in our new condominium. Natural gas is banned in many new buildings because of pollution and safety concerns.

Once you get used to it, induction is quicker, cleaner and more energy-efficient, making it an eco-friendly option. And cleanup is a cinch – a damp cloth wipes the cooktop clean. No more burnt-on messes.

Induction uses electromagnetic currents to directly heat the pots themselves, rather than the typical thermal conduction by a gas or electric burner. As there are no flames, there are no fires, much less pollution and the cooktop burner cools right down after the pan is removed, an excellent safety feature. There is also less chance of burns, as the pot holds the heat, not the stove. Induction needs less ventilation so it’s an excellent choice for condo dwellers who cannot have vents to the outside.

Induction is faster than gas, and very precise. A large pot of water comes to a boil in 5 minutes. It also has the capacity to heat so low that chocolate melts beautifully. The heat is consistent because you choose the temperature, and it holds.

There are, however, a few negatives to this type of cooking. Induction cooktops are expensive and your cookware may not be suitable. Pots and pans need to be magnetic to work with induction; check them by making sure a magnet adheres to the bottom. Cast iron will work. Stainless-steel and the heavy, colourful, cast-iron enamel are perfect. Sadly, my beautiful copper pots may have to go into storage.

If your pots aren’t compatible, excellent options are available from most major manufacturers, such as All-Clad or Canadian-manufactured Paderno. And if you are despairing over not being able to use your favourite pans, you can buy an induction adapter plate that goes over the burner and heats up your pots. It’s not as efficient as having the correct cookware, but it is a way to preserve a few favourites.

If you’re uneasy about cooking with induction, it is a good idea to get a lesson or two on how to use it efficiently; either the manufacturer or the appliance store should have resources to help you.

After having tried a number of these cooktops, I was drawn to the Wolf because all the burners link, meaning you can use very large pans over several, or all, of the burners together. That’s useful for making the gravy for a roast in a big pan, for example. But there are many other excellent choices at different price points.

Chefs love induction and it is a mainstay in many commercial kitchens. Adrian Niman, owner, and executive chef at the catering and restaurant company, Food Dudes, says: “It is planet-friendly; a resource to the culinary world. Easy to clean [and] aesthetically pleasing.”

One key point, he says: “It is easy to overcook food at first, but once comfortable with the concept, it is quicker, cleaner and a great benefit to catering and home kitchens.” He even brings induction burners to his home catering jobs.

Now I feel much more excited about my new induction cooktop.

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