The cooking revolution that’s been sweeping through the kitchens, campsites and caravan parks of Australia is heating up … and grey nomads are loving it!
The idea behind induction cooking is brilliantly simple. Coils beneath the cooktop elements carry a current, which creates an electromagnetic field. This current is converted to heat when cookware, which acts as a conductor, is placed on top.
The stand-alone cooktops use around 60% less power than any other portable cooker and are light and easy to transport. It also means you no longer have to carry bulky gas bottles with you (at least not for cooking). But do they work? Well, our grey nomad ‘gizmo geek’ Phil Crockart took one induction cooktop out for a road test and came back raving about it (see his verdict, below).
In terms of cooking speed, tests have shown that the fastest induction cooktop boils six litres of water in eight minutes, nearly twice as fast as gas and electric stoves.
Other obvious advantages with this method of cooking are that it is only the cookware – which must contain iron or steel to work – that gets hot, not the cooking surface. And they can be used all the time … even on total fire ban days.
Phil ‘Gizmo Geek’ Crockart road tests an induction cooker
The Ecoheat device, we purchased for around $300, uses magnetism to induce a large current into the cooking vessel, the electrical resistance in that vessel produces heat which cooks the food. The outstanding feature of the Ecoheat accessories is that it is only 800 watts max (about 3.3 amps). This means it can run from a 1KVA inverter or a small generator while free camping (the inverter is much more eco friendly). Be very careful of the maximum wattage as anything over 1KW may overload low wattage inverters and generators.
The only downside is that you have to buy special cookware, which is a little more expensive. However, a lot of cookware manufacturers are now producing induction pots and pans at a reasonable price. As a general rule, if a magnet sticks to the base of the pot, it is probably suitable for induction cooking.
The Gizmo Geek verdict
* Safe and easy to use
* Cheap, easy accurate cooking (as responsive as gas)
* The cooktop remains cool
* Perfect for free camping
* Will perform all cooking opera- tions, including frying & boiling
* Easy to clean, light to transport * Heaps cheaper than gas
* Needs special cookware
* Cooktops are a bit expensive (but pay themselves back in gas savings)