There’s loads of options when it comes to kitchen hobs, do you stick to good old gas, stay safe with electric or mix it up a little bit with a mysterious induction hob? It can be a pretty tough choice especially if you've been using one kind of cooker since you could hold a wooden spoon. But it's just getting hot and cooking food, all hobs do pretty much the same thing right...? Wrong! Read this handy guide to buying the best cook top for your kitchen.
Fire Up A Gas Hob
Approximately 60% of households in the UK have a gas hob, probably because they are so simple to operate and you can change the heat levels instantly. But it’s more than that, there’s something exciting about using a gas cooker. Our primal fascination with the flicker, noise and glow of their bright blue flames make it feel like proper cooking, whether you’re boiling an egg or searing a steak. Then there’s the thrill of a flame catching on a bit of oil and… WHOOOOSH, watch those tiny blue lights turn into a giant orange dragon breath - you might have had a mini heart attack but you feel like a Michelin star chef.
By far the worst part about owning a gas cook top is keeping it clean. Lifting off the pan supports and burner caps to awkwardly wash them in the sink and scrub at the greasy splatters on the surface, whilst manoeuvring the raised edges and ridges with a J-cloth. Not the kind of thing a top chef like you wants to be doing after cooking up a storm! It’s a right pain in the proverbial, so maybe you’re tempted by easy-to-clean, electric and ceramic hobs.
Safe Electric Ceramic Hobs
With a smooth surface that simply wipes clean it’s easy to see why you’d want this type of hob in a busy family home - plus, most touch screen electric hobs come with some pretty handy features as standard. There’s the safety lock which stops little hands changing the temperature or accidently turning on the hob when your back is turned and built in timers that can automatically turn off the burners once complete. Electric hobs are perfect for modern kitchens because they can be built in to sit almost flush to the work surface, which looks elegant and sleek.
Despite the useful positives, electric hobs aren’t very practical when it boils down to the actual cooking part. Slow to heat up and even slower to cool down, not great if you’re clumsy and forgetful like me. Too often I’ve gone off and left the hob to heat up then returned to find my food bubbling like mad and burnt on the bottom. Then you try to lower the heat settings and it takes for-ev-er, ruining the food even more than it already is.
When using a ceramic hob you seem to spend more time waiting for it to turn on, off and change temperature, than actually cooking. So sadly, for anyone who likes to lead a green life, ceramic hobs are not very energy efficient and can be blooming annoying if you’ve not got the time or patience to watch food cook.
The Seduction Of Induction
So we like the responsive gas option but also want the easy maintenance, safety and look of an electric hob, right? Well you can get all these features when you enter the life changing world of induction cooking.
Induction hobs are getting more common and popular as people begin to realise how superb they can be. Underneath each burner is a metal coil which, when electricity passes through it, creates electromagnetic energy. Then when a compatible induction pan is placed onto the hob this energy is conducted to the base of the pan, creating heat straight away. But when you remove the pan from the hob, the energy can’t be transferred so heat won’t generate, unlike a standard electric cook top that constantly emits heat once turned on. This clever technology means that induction hobs are the safest type of cooking surface on the market as well as being extremely efficient in producing precise, instant and even heat.
Most of the features available with electric hobs are also built into induction cookers too, such as the sleek touch screen, secure safety lock and handy built-in timer. Not forgetting the smooth glass surface which looks great and is a doddle to keep clean – just wipe any splashes of sauce away - no need for all that fiddly washing up business that comes with owning a gas cooker. Induction hobs are also known for their automatic power off functions, which kick in to prevent injuries and save power when the cooker’s not in use.
You can try out a cool trick to show the safety of induction cooking; placing a paper towel underneath one half of a pan of water. Then watch as only the side of the pan touching the hob comes to boil. It really is an incredible appliance; they may look like your typical electric cookers but underneath the smooth surface hides some intelligent tech that is ready for anything at the touch of a button.
The only slight downside to buying an induction cooker is that you've got to use compatible pans, everything from frying pans, saucepans, woks and pressure cookers must have what’s known as a ferrous base. A handy way to check if you already own suitable pans is to take a magnet off the fridge and see if it sticks to the bottom of the pan, if it does then it’s perfect for induction cooking.
Though often more expensive, they are quicker, easier to control and cheaper to run than other electric hobs. Induction is definitely worth considering, even though it may seem like you’re indulging, it’s an investment you’ll thank yourself for in the long run.
We sell both electric ceramic hobs and induction cook tops, head over to our Home & Garden section and check out our KuKoo branded products.