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New Kitchen Gear

It is lot more comfortable temperature-wise to cook outside during the Summer. Even if it wasn’t, the tastiness of grilled food makes the effort worth it. So it should come as no surprise that since we acquired the TEC infrared grill the staff here have been firing it up every chance they can. Naturally, this got us thinking about what would make the outside cooking experience even more convenient and/or enjoyable, because while the TEC is fantastic for grilling, it is not suitable for everything (simmering,sauces, etc). So to complement the TEC we looked for something that we could use along side it. Someone suggested getting an induction cooktop. We are in the planning stage for an end-of-Summer cookout and that seemed like a perfect opportunity to try one out.

Induction cooking technology is not the same as an electric hot plate or rangetop. Both use electricity but instead of relying on the heat generated by electrical resistance in coils under the pan, the induction method uses a magnetic field to “excite” the molecules in the pan itself. The heat generated by the “excited” molecules in the pan is transferred to the food, thereby cooking it. This approach combines the benefits of gas (energy efficient, fast) and electric (flameless, safe). Induction technology has been around for decades, but unlike the microwave, it never caught on big with the general public, mostly because of price. Induction cooktops have always only been available in the higher end of the kitchen equipment spectrum. However, that trend may be changing.

After some research, we decided to take a closer look at Waring Pro’s new ICT400 two-burner unit. We liked that the ICT400 has a glass-smooth surface with sealed buttons (making them easy to keep clean). Each burner is independently controlled, has its own 150-minute timer, and separate LED display. The unit has a low profile (2.5″ high) and at only seven pounds, is very easy to move around.

At our next cookout, along with the induction cooktop, we will be giving the following gear a FirstUse tryout:

The Joseph Joseph Elevate line of kitchen tools incorporates a feature which solves the hygiene problem found with most utensils. The design is clever, clean, and functional. We will be sure to give the tongs a full workout and report back on how they perform.

The Tovolo CleanFlip is interesting because it is a reversible tray. Having two surfaces is helpful for prevent cross-contamination from raw meat juices. One side of the tray is for bringing the meat out to the grill, the other side may be used for bringing it back in. Switch from one to the other with a quick flip.

Wine is made up of a complex combination of volatile compounds. Exposing wine to air will cause two processes to occur: oxidation and evaporation. When aerated, the more volatile, less desirable, compounds will evaporate faster than the aromatic and flavorful ones. The Waring Pro Wine Aerator is designed to do just that, a glass at a time.

Induction cooking relies on a certain type of cookware as part of the cooking system. Not all metal cookware are suitable; only pans with a high enough iron content will work. The easiest way to test if a pan will work is with a magnet. If the magnet sticks to the bottom, then the piece will work. Much to our surprise, the magnet did not stick to any of our stainless steel, Calphalon, or teflon-coated pans.

Fortunately, IKEA has a line of inexpensive but high-quality stainless steel pieces which are  induction-ready (we brought along a magnet to test just to be sure). While their complete 7-piece set is only $50, we only wanted a pot and a frying pan. However, depending on how well we like them, we just may replace our current pots and pans with the IKEA 365+.

While it is hard to believe that Labor Day is just around the corner, there are still plenty of outdoor-cooking days left before we have to bring things back inside. We are looking forward to trying out the Waring Pro induction cooktop and the other gear. The full FirstUse write-up should be ready before the end of Fall. Enjoy the rest of the Summer because Winter is coming…OK, maybe not just yet.

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