I love to cook! But I have to admit that leaving our newly remodeled gourmet kitchen in our stick and brick abode and moving to our full timing lifestyle in our 2013 42′ motor home has required a lot of “adjustment” when it comes to food preparation.
Going from a kitchen equipped with a double wall oven, a full 4 burner semi-pro gas cooktop with a griddle to a combo convection/microwave (with no broiler) and a 2 burner propane cooktop has been challenging to say the least.
My factory installed marine grade two burner gas cooktop on the coach has been a constant source of frustration, primarily because the flame cannot be adjusted low enough – the word “simmer” is not in my cooktop’s vocabulary! No matter what veggies, fish or meat I tried to saute even on the lowest flame, the results are always the same – overly browned and practically burnt. Sigh….nothing worse than little bits of burned garlic in your favorite dish! Sometimes I would even lift the pan an inch or so above the flame to stop the burn but that never worked out very well. In other instances, preparing anything that required simmering, such as gravy, soups or stews required constant attention because I couldn’t adjust the flame low enough.
Then we started hearing more and more about induction cooktops. This past winter, while strolling around various campgrounds, we’d see people outside cooking on their induction cooktops on a picnic table. Curious, I would stop and ask them how they liked cooking with induction. Regardless of the brand, everyone raved about it.
After doing research, reading reviews and even watching an infomercial, I was sold – I had to have one! Although there are a number of higher priced units on the market, the NuWave Portable Induction Cooktop had relatively good ratings and wasn’t terribly expensive. So it was a no brainer when we went to BJ’s and discovered they had a $15 coupon for the NuWave Pic2 cooktop, regularly priced at $79.99. For $65 we figured we would give it a try. In addition to the cooktop, it also came with a 9″ Duralon Non-Stick Ceramic fry pan.
Boy, oh, boy, do I love this newest gadget in my kitchen collection! Now granted as I’m writing this, it’s only blessed my kitchen for a few months so I’m not sure about long term usage. Haven’t melted chocolate or used it as a fryer but for general sauteing, searing or general cooking, it’s worked like a charm!
Like us, you might drag your feet before buying one of these. Why? Because the biggest gotcha with an induction cooktop is that there’s a good chance your existing cookware won’t work with it. Because of the way an induction cooktop works, the cookware must have a base made of a magnetic material. Not sure if yours is “induction ready”? Try the magnet test on the bottom. If it clings solidly, that cookware will work on any induction cooktop. We had a couple of pots in our inventory that looked like stainless but still had magnetic bottoms.
Wanting to make sure that I liked the cooktop before investing in new cookware, I decided to try it out with the included 9″ ceramic skillet. Wow, even if I didn’t like the cooktop, I love this skillet.
Absolutely nothing sticks to it even without using oil and it’s so easy to clean. Plus it contains no harmful chemicals, such as PTFE, PFOA or cadmium. The only complaint is that it is so slippery, it is hard catching our fried eggs with a spatula so they can be flipped! Check out this video. We’ve had to learn how to flip them without the spatula by tossing them.
So why do I love this newest gadget? Lots of reasons…
- Temperature control – this to me is the #1 reason, especially the very low temp settings (as low as 100°). I love being able to control the temp either using the pre-programmed buttons for sear (575°), high (425°), medium high (375°), medium (275°), medium low (175°) and low (100°) settings or by using the “+” or “-” buttons choosing my own temps between 100° and 450° in 10° intervals . Even changing the temp in the middle of cooking isn’t a problem – there’s an immediate response. No more burnt foods, no risk of a spill over!
- Timer & Programming Function – Need to use multiple temps or have the unit turn off after a certain amount of time? Use the “Prog” button in conjunction with the “Time” button to program when and how long you want your food to cook at a certain temperature. I’ve never used this feature but it’s there if you want it.
- Automatic Shut Off – left the house or became involved in a phone call and forgot to turn it off? No worries, it automatically shuts down after 1 hour of no changes to the settings. Some consider this a bug and not a feature, so if you want to cook something for longer than one hour you should use the “Prog” function.
- No flame, no fire, no wasted heat – no risk of having something catch on fire or a pet or child touching a hot flame or element. Even though the pan gets hot, the cooktop itself – outside the diameter of the pan or pot base – remains cool to the touch. The cooktop area under the pan does get hot and will remain hot for a while once the pan or pot is removed. Also, most all of the heat goes to the cooking not heating up the coach and the cook!
- So easy to clean – something spatters? Once it has cooled, just wipe the cooktop down with a damp cloth and you’re done! How easy is that?
- Lightweight and portable – move it from one location to another, take it outside and use it to cook in or even as a warming tray.
- Convenient Storage – it is 14.5″ in long, 12″ wide and 2.5″ tall and generally circular in shape. With it’s small size, we have found that it is very convenient to store it inside our convection/microwave oven when it’s not being used.
- For even more operational details, check out this review.
Within a few days, I was totally sold! I cleaned my gas cooktop, put the Corian cover down and haven’t used it since! I even bought a new set of ceramic coated nesting cookware, but more about that in a separate review.
By the way, if you are thinking of buying one of these through the infomercial or one of their websites, be sure to do your homework! Apparently the infomercial offers a “buy 1 get 1 free” deal with free induction cookware for 3 easy payments of $33.33 ($99.99 plus $29.99 shipping and handling). Sure sounds like a good deal but read the reviews and pay close attention at checkout – people have been tripped up during checkout and charged additional shipping over and above what they thought was the cost.
We liked it so much, we bought a second unit for our boat! I’m not only a happy camper but a happy chef as well!