As gas stoves phase out, we test electric, induction options

Los Angeles is in the process of phasing out gas-powered living. The LA City Council voted in May to ban gas stoves in all newly built buildings within city limits, joining more than 50 California cities in doing so. Citing the ongoing climate crisis, the council made this decision because emissions from the gas pipes that power stoves, furnaces and water heaters contribute to carbon dioxide pollution, leading to to more destructive wildfires, more severe droughts and deadly heatwaves – all of that in one Great concern for those of us who live in California.

Going without fuel is clearly better for the environment, but gas stove is still the most popular type of stove in the country and is considered essential for some dishes and techniques. Switching to induction or electricity over time will be a big adjustment. Because we still have years of gas cooking years ahead of us, the LA Times test kitchen is now equipped with both gas and induction ranges. Each now has the benefits of making great home cooking and is helpful in testing out our recipes.

All that being said, like most stubborn people asking to change their ways, I don’t want to.

Gas stoves are the norm for me and most professional chefs I know. First, we can count that most people who make recipes at home use gas. Heat levels are given as high, medium and low because no matter what the dial on your stove says, you can judge the flame from the gas stove by those three readings, with the naked eye.

Gas gives cooks an agile maneuver on slower and noisier heat levels with electricity. It also allows you to use any pan you have, something induction cannot do, since induction requires the magnet in the pot to react with the copper coils in the kitchen. And when it comes to the sheer amount of heat a gas can generate, it’s once again at its best electrically and inductively, which can’t reach the heat of a jet engine for things like Grilled steak or make a charcoal stir-fry.

Gas stoves have come to dominate our culture mainly because, well, flames cast a certain spell: It’s really fascinating to see the power of flames light up as you grill a steak. or flip a bunch of veggies out of the pan, each part sung by fire. Visuals are only part of the appeal.

All of the above – quick heat manipulation, the ability to give off hot smoke when needed, and the flexibility to use any pot material – have made gas stoves a mainstay for home cooks and home cooks. restaurant chef for decades. So when the new law goes into effect, it will be interesting to see how, especially chefs at restaurants in new buildings, will have to adapt. Does the absence of primitive flavors due to gas cooking mark a return to live fire cooking to mimic similar flavors?

Caramelize sugar through a gas stove.

Cooking columnist Ben Mims caramelizes sugar to examine the difference between gas and electric stoves.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Reality of touch

However, for all the wonders of gas, I must admit that it generates a lot of heat and excess energy, which electric and induction cookers cannot do. As someone who has lived with small kitchens in apartments in both New York City and Los Angeles, I can attest to the power of ambient heating that can come from a single burner. If it is winter, heating can be very good. But if it’s hot outside – like it’s time in LA – it means that every dinner party I host requires me to shower right before guests arrive. Now imagine the heat in the kitchen inside your favorite restaurants.

I’m not a fan of, nor am I disparaging about, induction and electric cooking – I understand why people use both – but I’ve noticed that while the experience of cooking on them is different from cooking with gas , in general, you can pretty much the same result.

Electric hobs conduct heat by heat, that is, from the heating coil to the hot pan to your food. This is the same as a gas flame, except that the heat is concentrated at the bottom of the pan electrically relative to wherever the flame is in contact with the pan, sometimes both sides, with the gas.

With touch, however, what you can do is limited and expansive. Induction cooking works by using an electric coil that heats copper wire that reacts with a magnet in certain pans to transfer heat. This means that heat transfers faster than conventional gas or electricity – the pot of water you need to cook the noodles will boil faster. It also means that the pan you use will heat up faster. Instead of waiting for a pan on a gas stove to heat up for several minutes, a pan on an induction hob will heat up in less than a minute.

Of course, there are limitations to touch. You can heat the pan faster, but it can’t maintain nor reach the heat needed to sauté and cook steaks that could use gas. And because induction heat requires certain types of pots and pans, you may have to purchase a new set of pots to use. However, the ability to maintain a more precise temperature below that high threshold is great for things like boiling, where you want slow and steady heat without having to move back and forth with a gas flame that is prone to spotting. hot.

However, all comparisons aside, I think most home cooks will eventually be able to easily adapt their recipes to use an induction or electric stove. Aside from the rare times when I cook steak, I don’t need such high heat to cook at home – and honestly, I can live the rest of my life without turning off the fire alarm and having to open every window in my house to blow out the smoke from that single pan.

After some thought, and ideas for my future cooler kitchen temperatures, I’d rather use gas sooner rather than later. If it’s coming, why not embrace it? We can take the opportunity to adapt its many capabilities, instead of focusing on the one thing it lacks. As gas stoves phase out, we test electric, induction options

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