23 December 2008

How To Clean Ceramic Cooktops

The ceramic cooktop is a glass cooktop with electric heating elements under the glass. While smooth tops may appear to be easy to clean, special care must be taken to avoid damaging or discoloring the ceramic surface.
The best way to clean a ceramic cooktop is to sprinkle a nonabrasive cleanser or baking soda over the surface and rub with a synthetic scouring pad or sponge. Rinse well with clear water, and buff with a soft cloth for a clean finish. Here are a few other handy suggestions :

The ceramic cook tops are the latest in things as far as the gadgets in the kitchen are concern. They are basically glass cooktops, in which the electric heating elements are placed under the glass. Obviously, they look chic and stylish. However, everything has its pros and cons and the same holds true for ceramic cooktops. The problem with them is that they are very prone to scratches and are very difficult to clean. Nevertheless, if you use the proper cleaning procedure and keep in mind a few tips, ceramic cooktop will be quite easy to maintain.

How to Clean Ceramic Cooktops

Items Needed
  • Ceramic Cooktop Cleaner
  • Paper Towels
  • Razor Scraper
  • Soft Cloth
  • Various soil levels require different cleaning methods :
Light to Moderate Soil : Apply cooktop cleaner with a non-abrasive pad, paper towel or clean cloth. Hand dishwashing detergent and water or a baking soda paste can also be used if cooktop is rinsed thoroughly and completely dried.

Heavy Soil, Metal Markings, Brown/Gray Stains from Hard Water : Gently scrub with cooktop cleaner using a clean cloth or paper towel. Reapply cleaner. Cover with damp paper towels to keep cleaner moist. Let stand for 30-45 minutes. Scrub to remove remaining stain. Do not use abrasive powders or pads since they may scratch the surface.

Burned On, Crusty Soils : Hold a razor blade scraper at 30 degree angle and very carefully scrape off soil. Clean remaining soil with cooktop cleaner.

If plastic, sugar or foods with a high sugar content melt onto a hot cooktop, remove immediately. (If not removed, permanent damage may occur.) Scrape from hot surface using a razor blade scraper held carefully with a potholder or use a wooden handled stainless steel spatula. Clean residue with cooktop cleaner when surface has cooled.
The spillovers should be cleaned from the cooktop as soon as the food gets cooked and the cooktop gets cool. First, clean the spill over with a clean paper towel and then, make use of the cleaner.
  • The areas which have gotten burnt during the cooking should be cleaned with the help of a razor blade scraper. Take the scraper in your hand, bend it at 45 deg angle and then, gently, slide it over the cooktop surface. After the stain gets removed, use spread cleanser. With the help of paper towels, clean the cooktop.
  • The discoloration of the ceramic cooktop, left from aluminum or copper pans, has to be corrected by polishing it. Make sure to polish the cooktop, before using it again. Otherwise, the stains might become permanent.
  • Tips for Cleaning Ceramic Cooktops.
  • Before using your cooktop for the first time, apply a cooktop cleaning product specially formulated for glass-ceramic cooktops. Apply with a non-abrasive pad, paper towel or clean cloth. This helps make future cleaning easier. Hand dishwashing detergent and water or a baking soda paste can also be used if cooktop is rinsed thoroughly and completely dried.
  • Do not put too much gap between two cleanings. The more often you clean the cooktop, the better it is.
  • Make sure that you do not keep any plastic items near the cooktop. This is because plastic tends to melt down with heat and then, becomes very difficult to remove.
  • Sliding pots and pans across the cooktop surface leads to development of scratches. Make sure that you don’t make the same mistake.
  • Never ever use abrasive cleaning products for the ceramic cooktop. They scratch the surface and might lead to discoloration too.
  • The bottom of pots and pans should be checked on a regular basis for scratches and scrapes. If found, they should be removed as soon as possible. These gouges might cause marks on the ceramic.
DO NOT use the following cleaning agents :
  • Abrasives (metal scouring pads, cleansing powders, scouring cleaners or pads) will scratch the cooktop.
  • Chemicals (oven cleaners, chlorine bleaches or ammonia) may damage the finish of the cooktop.
  • Glass cleaners which contain ammonia may discolour the cooktop.
  • Soiled cloths or sponges leave a film on the cooktop. Grit and soil in these items may also scratch the surface.
Protecting Ceramic Glass Cooking Surfaces :
  • Do not use glass, ceramic, earthenware, heatproof glass, or glazed pans; trivets or metal stands; or foil containers (crank-style popcorn poppers) these can mark or etch the surface.
  • Do not use the glass-ceramic cooktop as a work surface, as a cutting board, or for cooking food directly on the cooktop without a pan.
  • To prevent damage to the cooktop, do not slide metal or glass items across the cooktop.
  • Depending on the type of aluminum, moving cookware with aluminum bottoms across the cooktop may result in metal marks on the cooktop. Metal markings must be removed immediately after the cooktop is cool. If they are not removed, these marks may become permanent. Further efforts to remove them could cause chipping of the cooktop. Although the metal marks or the chipping may be visually undesirable, the performance of the cooktop will not be affected.

22 December 2008

For Energy Efficiency : Gas or Electricity?

Whether electric or gas cooking appliances provide similar cooking performance. Which one is your choice is depends on several factors, such as price, appearance kitchen layout, personal preference and of course, energy efficiency.

Generally, electric and LPG cooking costs more than natural gas. But, smaller electric appliances (frying pans and deep fryers) can be cheaper to run than both electric and gas stoves of the cooking periods is shorter. Microwave ovens are quite efficient also.

Energy efficiency
Energy star ratings at electric and gas appliances such as refrigerator, gas hot water systems and dishwasher indicate the energy efficiency but not for cooking appliances. The larger your cooking appliances and the longer cooking time, the more expensive cost you should pay. That’s why small appliances tend to be more efficient and should be used for cooking smaller amount of food.

Types of cooktops

Gas burners
  • Easy to adjust and respond rapidly
  • Good temperature control properties
  • Consumption varies according to the size of the burner and setting
Electric hotplates
There are three main types of electric hotplates : coil, solid and ceramic. The Efficiency different each other.

(a)Radiant coil hotplates
  • The cheapest electric hotplates
  • More efficient than solid and standard/halogen ceramic hotplates
  • Generally hinge up so that spillage bowls can be cleaned (some models have plug-inelements which can be removed for easier cleaning and replacement)
(b) Solid hotplates
  • Fixed to the hob and don’t need to be moved for cleaning
  • Slightly less efficient and have a slower response time than coil hotplates Retain heat longer than coil plates so they can be switched off before cooking is finished to save energy
  • Look for auto-sensing elements to assist with temperature control
  • ‘Sintered’ elements give faster cooking times
  • Require regular cleaning to maintain their efficiency and appearance
(c) Ceramic cooktops (smooth-tops)
  • Have elements concealed under a flat, glass surface
  • Provide stylish appearance and are easier to clean than coil and solid hotplates
(d) Ceramic induction cooktops
  • Uses electromagnetic technology to heat the cooking utensil and its contents with very little energy wasted on heating the ceramic cooking surface
  • An electronic circuit supplies power and electronically controls an inductor coil inside the appliance. This coil generates a magnetic field when a saucepan is placed in contact with the hob’s surface, causing induction currents to flow through the base of the pan
  • The cooktop surface stays cool, and spillages are not baked on, making cleaning easier. Induction cooking provides immediate response and precise temperature control
Type of electric hotplate Efficiency (%)
Ceramic - Standard55-60
Ceramic - Halogen 45-50

See Type of Cooktops for your kitchen for more information

Types of ovens
Gas and electric ovens are available in various sizez and can be install in walls, under benches or as part of a free standing stove. No matter the oven stand doesn’t effect on the energy efficiency or cooking performance. It’s important to choose the oven which is sufficiently in size for your requirements.

There are various types of ovens currently available on the market. Each cooks food
in slightly different ways.

(a) Conventional ovens
  • Have a gas burner or an electric element(s) for cooking
  • As hot air rises, the highest temperature is found towards the top of the oven
  • This can limit the amount of food which can be cooked at the one time.
  • These types of ovens are no longer commonly available
(b) Fan-forced (or convection) ovens
  • Have an in-built fan which circulates heated air around the oven
  • This results in an even temperature throughout the oven, allowing all shelves to be used simultaneously
  • Fan-forced ovens heat more quickly than conventional ovens, can cook food at lower temperatures, and use up to 35% less energy than conventional ovens
  • Multi-function ovens provide the option of either fan-forced or conventional cooking
(c) Microwave ovens
  • Extremely energy efficient as a result of the short cooking times involved
  • Energy only heats the food, with little wasted on heating cooking utensils or the oven itself
  • Shorter cooking times and significantly less energy consumption than conventional ovens
(d) Combination cookers
  • These combine convection and microwave cooking in the same oven
  • The food can be browned/crisped on the outside using convection cooking, while the microwave energy reduces the actual cooking time
Other appliances
Most kitchens are likely to contain a range of smaller cooking appliances such as a kettle, food processor and toaster Smaller electric cooking appliances are generally very energy efficient and inexpensive to run. It is important to unplug them at the power point as some consume standby power.

Based on the standard domestic electricity price of 13.94 cents per kilowatt hour (c/kWh).

Running Costs-electrical appliancesPower ratingRunning cost per hour (watts)
Oven2500 (large)
1800 (average)
Grill2000 (horizontal)
1800 (vertical)
Hotplate2050 (large)
1250 (small)
Microwave oven, Kettle150021¢
Frypan, Deep fryer120017¢
Toaster, sandwhich maker600
Bread maker470
Crock pot150

Gas appliances(MJ/hour)Natural gasLPG

Based on a natural gas price of 7.05 c/kWh and an LPG price of $102 (2006 average cost of a 45kg cylinder, including rental and delivery in Western Australia). To convert MJ to kWh divide by 3.6 (1kWh = 1 unit).

Energy Saving Tips

If you have frozen food, thaw the food first before cooking.
  1. Remember small appliance more energy efficient than the bigger appliances. So use the small appliances where possible. The grill on your stove uses up to three times more energy than your pop-up toaster.
  2. Match energy efficient cooking practices, such as using minimum water in pots, keeping lids on pots and simmering instead of boiling.
  3. Use the right size hotplate/burner matched with selected pot size.
  4. Use steamers and pot dividers to cook all your vegetables at once.
  5. Keep the oven door shut - each time it’s opened, more energy is needed to replace the lost heat.
  6. Check the seal on the oven door. A good seal will hold a piece of paper in place when the oven door is closed (make sure the oven is off). If the paper can be pulled out, the seal may need replacing.
  7. Use the oven fully where possible and plan on cooking several dishes at once.
  8. Preheating is unnecessary in a gas oven and should be minimised in an electric oven (especially fan-forced ovens).
  9. Turn the oven off 10 minutes before cooking is finished and use residual heat. If using aluminium foil, apply the dull side up.
  10. Keep surfaces of appliances clean to promote maximum heat reflection.
  11. Have appliances serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions - do not attempt repairs yourself.

21 December 2008

Types of Cooktops for Your Kitchen

If you set out to shop for cooktop, you will find a wide variety of ranging from types to models available in the market. But how can you know which type is more suitable to you? Gas, induction, electric, or pyroceram? To clarify the latter, here is a summary of the advantages and the inconvenient of each of these technologies. There are basically three types of cooktops namely, gas cooktop, electric cooktop, and Induction cooking. The main difference between these three cooktops is basically the source of fuel that is used for the cooking.

Gas Cooktops
The first cooktop that is most preferred by the consumer and chefs is the Gas cooktop. This cooktops is the most popular and preferable cooktops as it is cheaper than electricity, easy to use, easy to control and has high performing. A gas hob comes with 4 burners and three levels of heating for effective and responsive heating. Of the four burners, one burner is large size which is perfect for instant heating, two of them are medium size, and the size of the third one is small which serves the purpose of simmering.

To make the task easier, modern gas cooktops are equipped with an integrated lighting control. Other controls also instantly change the cooking temperature, offering the possibility to cook elaborately with a quick variation of temperatures. Some models also have a timer function that cuts the gas out after a programmed cooking time. However, the gas isn’t as high-performing as other low cooking methods.

They are also for the most part equipped with a security system by thermocouple that stops automatically the gas feed if the flame is out. This function is essential to the security of your house.

Gas cooktops requires many constraining cleaning steps because there are many nooks. Indeed, this equipment requires that you clean the grill, then the bottom of the plate and finally the burners. To make this chore easier, it is suggested that you purchase a very powerful cleaning product like the ones used by catering professionals.

Electric Cooktops

Electric cooktops enables you to maintain steady and low heat. In addition it provides a wide range of heating levels. However, electric cooktops takes time to heat up and cool down. Electric cooktops are further classified into four types depending on the cooking element of the appliance.
They are :
Radiant coil : They are cheaper than the other three types of cooktops. Apart from being economical, they also heats up faster. As a result of which the cooking is faster. However, when it comes to cleaning, it could be a little difficult though; some of them are removable making it easier to clean.Halogen : This cooktops heated with halogen elements have a flat surface and are easy to clean. They are not quite as energy-efficient as the induction cooktops and can actually be a bit wasteful if your pans are not totally flat because the heat is only transferred to the pan when it is in direct contact with the cooktop.Solid Hotplate : These plates have the capacity to retain heat longer than the radiant coils though they take more time to heat up. It is necessary to clean them regularly to maintain its optimum efficiency. In order to assist the temperature control more efficiently choose those with auto sensing elements.Ceramic cooktop : Like the halogen these cooktops has a glass surface with the cooking element beneath the glass. Though it looks stylish but it takes time to heat up and is less efficient. The best thing about this cooktop is that they are operated by touch controls and are easy to clean. These cooktops are slightly more expensive than the radiant and solid hotplates.Functioning
Electric cooking tops offer great solidity thanks to its cast iron surface. Otherwise, the inertia of this material offers a heating and cooling delay that is quite long. This table thus comes last when classifying them by cooking speed, and it doesn’t favour an elaborate cooking.

This type of hob doesn’t have a security system in case of overheating or spills, or a timer.

The cleaning may be laborious if there are food spills on the cooking plates. Moreover, the dirt can’t be easily cleanable when they are incrusted in the cast iron. There is thus no miraculous technique other than scrubbing.

Induction Cooktops
Induction cooktops are the newest technology and the most energy-efficient. It creates a magnetic field to generate heat when it comes in contact with the cooking utensil, but it doesn’t circulate heat around the cooking surface. This makes it more energy efficient than the rest of the cooktops. However, this hob is the most expensive of all the cooktops. With the latest technology, this hob is considered the most efficient as it works well on high as well as low heat. The only drawback of this cooktop is that you can’t use any type of utensils for cooking, the utensils must have magnetic properties (mental cookware) cast iron, stainless steel or enamel will work but glass and aluminum will not.

The warmth generated by field system windings placed under each source is streamed exclusively at the contact of the pot’s metallic material. This means that the cooking containers should be appropriate; copper, glass, and aluminum, for example, aren’t adapted to the ferromagnetic fields of the field system. Only pots made of cast iron, iron, or equipped with a ferromagnetic disk are acceptable. This type of cooktop is even more reactive than the gas cooktop and you can raise or lower the warmth power almost instantly. Thus, you obtain an unequalled precision of the evolution of cooking meals. In other words, with these hobs, you will seize meats in less than a minute and pass from intense warmth to a low simmer in a second.

This model offers an increased security. Since the warmth is only streamed at the contact of the cooking container’s material, there are hardly any more risks of burning yourself. However, a burning-hot pot itself can heat the induction plate. It is to make up for this phenomenon that most induction cooking tops have locks and automatic stopping systems in case of overheating or spills. Once the pot is taken off from the burner, the source is cut automatically.

Since the plate’s contour doesn’t produce heat, the projection of food or liquids don’t cook, so they won’t become incrusted into the surface. This table is among the models that are easiest to clean. A daily maintenance with a sponge suffices most of the time. In case of spills that have cooked onto the plate, we suggest using an appropriate product that generally comes with the purchase of the appliance.

The Pyroceram Cooktop
It looks like an induction cooktop, but the heating system is different.

It is a radiant type of source (that heats by beaming) and halogens (more powerful, but that heat by successive impulses) that may be what the elements of this type of plaque are made out of. On the speed of cooking side, its performance is less efficient than the gas or induction cooking tops, but it is better than the electric one. The plaques with halogen sources will reach high temperatures quicker than the ones with radiant sources and they are better adapted to simmering. However, it has a long cooling delay; you may wait for a little while until it goes back to its initial temperature.

To avoid burns, most of the models are equipped with a residual warmth indicator so you can see precisely when the cooking surface is still hot. This indicator turns off when the source goes below the temperature considered as the burn threshold (about 60 °C). To ward off a moment’s forgetfulness, a function automatically turns off the cooktop after a few hours if it isn’t used. And to add to your security, an overheating system limits the temperature of the hob to 30 °C, thus avoiding the flaming of the oil.

The maintenance of the pyroceram cooktop is quite easy and is similar to the induction cooktop’s, because you only need to use a sponge. However, since the burnt food residues will probably be more frequent than on the induction cooktop, you will probably have to always use a cream product appropriate to these kinds of surfaces.

20 December 2008

Induction Cooktops

The benefits of induction cooking have been available for years, but have not caught on in the United States as in Europe where sales equal those of radiant cooktops. Induction Cooktops is more expensive than conventional gas cooktops or smoothtop electric cooktops, but in general it performs better and is said to be the safest, fast and most energy-efficient way to cook. The safety factor is a result of the induction technology.

How does This Induction Cooktops works?
Induction does not use a heating element. Instead the heat is generated by magnetism in the induction device below a smooth glass cooktop and is transferred directly to the pan, which actually becomes the heating element. It won’t start unless you place an iron-based pan on top, and will automatically switch off when the pan is removed. It powers up fast, and you can adjust the heat setting instantly and with greater precision than an electric stove. The cooktop surface never reaches the extreme temperatures as does an under-glass heating element, an electric coil, or a flame. The result is safe, efficient heating.

An induction cooktop holds a series of burners called induction coils, which are based on magnetic principals. These coils generate magnetic fields that induct a warming reaction in steel-based pots or pans; it is the cooking vessels themselves that heat the food, not the stove elements. Because of this form of heat generation, the cooktops may feel slightly warm to the touch after they are turned off, but they remain relatively cool - and thus much safer.

An additional expense can arise if you need to replace your current cookware. Induction cooktops only induct energy into ferrous metal-based pots and pans. If you are currently using cast iron, steel-plated or certain types of stainless steel pans, you should be able to continue to use the cookware you already own. However, you cannot cook with such materials as copper, aluminum, or glass. Some makes of stainless steel pots and pans are conducive to cooking on an induction cooktop while others are not.

Magnetic induction cooktops are available in 120 and 240 volt models. Manufacturer’s specifications will detail cabinet clearances that are required.

The Benefits of Induction Cooktops
  1. Induction cooking is 85-90% more energy efficient than conventional gas or electric cooktops and they use approximately half the energy of gas-sourced models.
  2. You also save time. Water boils 3 times faster compared to other electric cooktops.
  3. Because of the reduced cooking time, the energy savings can be substantial.
  4. You have much more control as temperature changes are instantaneous.
  5. Because the cooktop never reaches high temperatures, spills won’t burn and always wipe up easily.
  6. Unlike a traditional gas stove, it has a smooth, flat, easy to clean surface, that heats evenly, so you don’t get “hot spots”.
  7. There are no nooks and crannies where food particles or spillovers can collect.
  8. The surrounding area always stays cool, so it makes for a cooler kitchen, and a safety plus for families with young kids who like to poke their fingers everywhere.
  9. Units are available in traditional sizes, so they can be fit into custom kitchens with the same ease as traditional electric cooktops.
  10. Induction cookers also make your kitchen look more modern and stylish.
Electrolux has been selling induction cooktops in Europe for years. The Electrolux ICON™ brand offers an induction cooktop with precision touch controls, cook surface sensors that detect the presence of a pan, a “keep warm” setting, and control lock out. It is available in a four-burner 30” model or a five-burner 36” model.


Initial Cost Greater than comparable products
A magnetic induction cooktop costs three to four times more than an electric cook top. A magnetic induction cooktop with four elements ranges in price from $1800 to $4000, dependent upon the manufacturer and features.

Operational Cost Less than comparable products
Cooking with magnetic induction is 90 percent efficient, as compared to resistance electric at approximately 65-percent efficiency, and open-flamed gas which measures in the 55-percent efficiency range. Magnetic induction cooktops also feature sensors that adjust the energy setting to the pot size and a broader range of settings than traditional cooktops.

How to Choose a Cooktops?

We are all want our kitchen simple but stylish, a pleasant place so we’ll enjoy to cook in there. One of the important appliance to cook is cooktops. Then, how to choose the right cooktops that fit with your kitchen?

Step 1
Think about the ventilation and space needed to accommodate a cooktop. Most cooktops are larger than 30 inches in width, so take that into consideration when planning your kitchen remodeling project. You will also want to place the cooktop either near a window or another source of ventilation.

Step 2
Choose electricity, gas, induction or mixed cooktop.

Step 3
Choose the capacity of the cooktop according to your needs. You could have a maximum of 6 burners in a cooktop.

Step 4
Make sure the cooktop has good security design, especially you are living with kids.

Step 5
Choose the surface of the cooktop carefully. Do not forget to check cleaning features. Remember that easy-to-clean is as important as its elegant appearance.

Step 6
Compare the price and the warranty between different cooktops you like. Ask the price of installation fee which is usually excluded from tag price.