Choosing a Hob
- Decide between gas and electric
- If you prefer electric, consider an induction cooktop
- Buy the best quality you can stretch to
- Get a size that will handle your needs - griddle, wok, fish kettle, etc.
- Avoid putting the hob under a window.
- Consider flame guard on gas hobs (automatically switches gas off if the flame gets blown out).
- Consider how to vent cooking fumes to the outside.
- Consider the benefits of the freestanding range versus the on-bench hob.
About Kitchen Hobs or Cooktops
Hobs traditionally had four burners. There are now many models with five or more burners as the sizes have grown. The most popular set up for these burners is one large, two medium burners, and one small simmer burner. Hobs are available with wok burners and the larger ones have long burners for for fish kettles, tepanyaki plates or even barbecue griddles. Typically hobs come in standard widths: 600 mm, 700 mm and 900 mm wide wide. They are installed into a cutout on the benchtop.
Why Choose a Gas Hob?
Gas is a great choice because it offers instant control over the heat. The flame is visible, and easily controlled so temperatures are easy to judge. Gas hobs are a very popular choice even for those without a town gas supply. That can easily be hooked up to a LPG cylinder (preferably outside) and are quite economical in use.
Most hobs have mains ignition to light the burners. An important feature to look out for is flame failure cutout. This means that if the flame goes out, perhaps in a draft, the gas will automatically be cut off. Other models have a system that re-ignites the flame should it go out. These are especially good safety features, especially in enclosed or poorly ventilated areas where gas buildup could cause an explosion.
Most professional cooks and chefs prefer naked flame cooking because of the ease of over the temperature, which makes cooking delicate dishes much easier.
Why Choose a Ceramic Cooktop?
Modern ceramic cooktops are slim and stylish. They have a scratch resistant surface, usually black, that is easily wiped clean. Some models of even come with extendable cooking zones, which are suitable for larger pots. Ceramic hobs are available with either manual or touch control knobs.
A Ceramic Cooktop is easy to clean but you will need to clean up any spills as soon as possible to make sure they don’t bake on to the glass top. Normally it is best to wait until the hob has cooled before you clean it, but sugary spills need to be cleaned up immediately as they can be hard to shift once baked on.
Ceramic cooktops require pots and pans that have a perfectly flat bottom to ensure maximum contact with the heat source. If you cook with a wok therefore, a ceramic hob is probably not for you. The heating and simmer down times are slower than gas hobs.
A ceramic hob can look very stylish in a modern kitchen, especially when matched with a glass splashback of the same colour.
Why Choose an induction cooktop?
In induction cooktops the burner (of a gas hob) or the element (of an electric hob) is replaced by a powerful, high-frequency electromagnet An electromagnetic field is generated by sophisticated electronics in a unit under the ceramic surface of the hob. The electromagnetic field generates a loop current within any ferrous metal that is placed upon the surface of the cooktop, causing it to heat up. The heat is then transferred from the pot to its contents. The electromagnetic field will only produce heat in ferrous metals, which means that your pots and pans must be made of cast iron or steel in order to work. Aluminium or Pyrex for instance, will not do.
Because the heat is generated in the pot or pan itself and not in the cooker, the surface of the hob is only heated by the pot itself so it does not get so hot. As soon as the unit is switched off or the pot is removed heat generation stops. No heat is generated by or on the hob unless there is steel or iron placed upon it, even if it is switched on. The heat is generated when a pot or pan is placed anywhere on the hob. A pan does not have to be precisely placed the way it does over a burner or element in a conventional hob.
Induction cooking is considered to be safer than gas or electric because there are no open flames or hot elements. The hob itself is not hot to touch, it is only the cooking pots that heat up. Even if left switched on it will only generate heat in ferrous metal that is placed upon it. Induction hobs are easy to clean because food spillage does not get burnt on the way it would on a conventional ceramic hob. Induction Hobs are a great choice if you do not use a wok or nonferrous cookware. They are also a great talking point; the the hidden magic of the heat source always takes a lot of explaining to the uninitiated!
Unlike ceramic hobs, Induction hobs don’t require pots and pans to have a perfectly flat bottom as the heat is generated in the pan rather than being transferred from the surface of the hob. To heat the pot, proximity to the magnetic fied is what’s required. Temperature control is instant.
A newer innovation is the domino hob, available in both gas and electric. These allow you to mix and match according to your needs. For instance you can pair a deep fat fryer with a barbecue grill or a fish kettle burner with a wok burner, etc. etc. The variations offered by domino hobs make them well worth considering.