A guide to electric stove cooking

Gas and electric stoves and cooktops both have their supporters and detractors, and both have their benefits and drawbacks. Ultimately which one you prefer is a matter of personal opinion. If you’re considering changing to an electric stovetop or you’re staying somewhere that has one, it might be useful to review how to use them most effectively.

Electric stoves are a cheaper option to buy and install than an equivalent gas stove, though they are usually more expensive to operate. Electric stoves are also safer than gas stoves – there is potential for gas leakages or open flames to worry about.

Cooking with electricity

Operating an electric stovetop is very simple – turn the dial to your desired temperature and start cooking. That’s all there is to it. Once set your stove will provide a steady, constant heat until you turn the dial to the off position. Electric cooktops are usually easier to clean than gas ones, as they have no gas outlets to accidentally clog.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that electric heating elements take quite a while to heat up and cool down compared to gas ones. Even if the stove looks like it’s off, it can still be quite hot. This also means that you can’t just turn off the burner and leave the pot without continuing to cook the food for some time. If you want to stop cooking, you also need to move the pot to an off burner or somewhere which can withstand the heat of a pot.

If you want a simple, no-fuss stove to use, an electric stovetop might be just the ticket.

Understanding stove temperature settings

Stove settings are more significant than many recognise – the right cooking temperature can help you perfect your recipe. Here’s a quick rundown, but keep in mind that settings vary across stove models.

Some stoves have a dial with four settings: Simmer, low, medium and high. Other stovetops instead have a dial with a near complete circle around the knob that increases in thickness to indicate higher cooking temperatures.

  • Simmer [50˚- 80˚]: Unideal setting for cooking. Best used to keep food warm.
  • Low [80˚ – 100˚]: Ideal for retaining moisture when cooking. Great for eggs, stir fry and seafood.
  • Medium [100˚ – 150˚]: Medium setting can be used to cook most foods including vegetables and meat.
  • High setting [150˚ – 260˚]: This is the best option for red meat or ground meat. It of course poses the highest risk of burning however, so keep an eye on your food.

Cooktop safety basics

The elements on cooktops can reach extremely high temperatures. This creates potential for burns and kitchen fires, so exercise caution when cooking.

  • Do not leave tea towels or cloths near the stove and insure curtains are well clear.
  • Ensure pot and pan handles are not hanging off the side of the bench as this makes it easier for the cookware to be knocked.
  • Try not to lean over heated elements.
  • Ensure the stovetop is switched off when not in use.

If you burn yourself, you should run the affected area under cold water immediately. See your doctor if the burn is larger than a 20c piece.

Why choose an electric stove?

Electric stoves are becoming increasingly common in Australian kitchens, and for good reason. They are a convenient and reliable alternative to its gas counterpart. That said, electric stoves are not without drawbacks. In this article we make a detailed comparison between gas and electric stovetops, but to keep things simple, here’s a comparison of the pros and cons of electric stoves.

Pros Cons
Appliance and Installation cheaper than gas stoves Electricity rates usually higher than gas rates. Possibly costing more in the long run.
Easier to clean than gas stoves Not as responsive and accurate as gas stoves

Types of electric stoves

Electric coil cooktop

The chances are that nearly every one of you reading this has experienced this cooktop. It’s the traditional stove top with (usually) four exterior coil elements. What it lacks in aesthetic appeal, it makes up for with practicality, serving as a great all round cooktop.

Solid hotplate

Another classic stovetop design, the solid hot plates can provide a slightly more consistent heat than the electric cooktop, however they usually take a little longer to heat up and cool down.

Ceramic cooktop

Ceramic cooktops are principally identical to plate or coil cooktops. The key difference is that ceramic cooktops blend seamlessly with the kitchen bench as the coil or plate elements are internal – lying beneath a strong layer of ceramic glass. Ceramic cooktops are, however, generally more expensive than traditional coil cooktops.

Induction cooktops

Induction cooktops don’t work like coil or hotplate models, instead using magnetic fields to essentially turn the cookware in to the element itself. This provides a high degree of control and cooking consistency. As you might expect, the main downside is that these cooktops are generally the most expensive on the market. Additionally, it is only compatible with Ferrous based cookware.

How do electric stoves work?

Simply put, an electric stove top works by running electricity through a circuit, heating a coil or plate. The more you turn the dial, the more electricity runs through and the hotter the stove top becomes. The coil protrudes on older stove tops and glows orange when hot. Newer, flat ceramic glass-top stoves instead have an internal element which lights red over the heated area.

What is the best stove?

Canstar Blue rates and reviews a range of products, including kitchen cooking appliances such as ovens, fridges and dishwashers. While we haven’t yet reviewed stove tops, you can see which brands dominate the kitchen using our customer satisfaction ratings.

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