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   IN HOT PURSUIT SELECTING A COOKTOP FOR YOUR KITCHEN
 
 
 
2012 - Summer Issue
Casas Bonitas
Kitchens
 
Article: Jasmine Evaristo
Photo Courtesy: Miele, Wolf,
GE, Sub Zero, Jenn
 
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For many, the cooktop is the jewel in the crown of the kitchen. It's the source that springs appetizing creations and experiences joining friends and family. A built-in cooktop is versatile in the kitchen, and installation can be approached in a variety of ways. Cooktops come in an array of sizes and styles, featuring innovative designs tailored to meet cooking preferences. Whether building anew or remodeling, being informed and conscious to products, budget, lifestyle and function can facilitate the decision-making process when selecting a unit.

    Installation configurations could include any of the following:

Install into counter with cabinets below (gain storage space)
   
Install into counter above a built-in wall oven (ultimate built-in appearance)
   
Install into island (provides convenient access to cooking area)
   
Install near refrigerator or pantry (speed up food prep time)
   
  Resources

Builders Source
Appliance Gallery

915-775-1000
575-526-5200
builderssource.com

Diemer Building
& Remodeling

575-524-5800
ddiemer.com

Mebel RUST / Miele
915-581-1442
mebelrustusa.com

Ferguson Supply
915-231-5836
ferguson.com
A built-in cooktop or rangetop opens up a realm of options in kitchen design. The variety of sizes available, and flexible installation, enhances the value of built-in cooking for anyone looking to maximize kitchen space. Built-in cooking also provides a more distinguished, seamless appearance.

The most common cooktop types are gas and electric. Some models feature a modular design that accommodates both gas and electric heating elements, as well as optional accessories such as grills, griddles, woks and more. Advanced technologies such as halogen-based heating, which uses halogen lights as a heating source; and induction cooking, which generates magnetic fields to heat cookware, are also available. Cooktop widths generally range from around 30" up to 60".

The heat is on in the gas versus electric debate, but each fuel source has its pros and cons. Whether an iron chef or a novice in the kitchen, understanding these differences in the context of cooking styles can provide guidance when determining the cooktop to best support individual needs.

Professional and aspiring chefs generally prefer gas cooking because the burner output has controlled precision, and Builders Source Appliance Gallery Store Manager Dan Salas confirms the trend, "The gas cooktop in 36" width is still the top choice." With the aid of electronic ignition, gas burners can be lit quickly and provide instant-on/instant-off burner control. Most gas cooktops also feature power burners that reach high temperatures used to achieve rapid boiling, and simmer burners that maintain low temperatures ideal for sauce preparation.

A myth to debunk is that the performance of electric cooktops is inferior to gas. Electric cooktop burners, which run on 220 volts, can achieve the same high temperatures as their gas counterparts. Some models also feature electric simmer burners that can maintain low temperatures. Additionally, Diemer Building & Remodeling President Dan Diemer pokes holes in the notion that gas is hotter, "Not so, especially if you are using propane – it's just not as hot as natural gas," he says.

Electric cooktops easily generate a wide spectrum of heat levels. Electric units offer a vast selection of available heating elements in a range of prices. Coil elements are the most economical and heat up quickly for fast cooking right away. Radiant heating elements are placed beneath a smooth glass, ceramic surface, providing a stylish cooking area that is easy maintenance. Solid disk elements are less common and feature heating elements embedded in a cast-iron burner for consistent heating and simple cleanup.

For the ultimate in electric cooking, induction is the cutting edge. Induction utilizes a unique scientific principle that provides numerous cooking, cleaning, and safety benefits. Essentially, an induction burner acts as a high-frequency magnet. Cookware used on an induction cooktop must have ferrous iron content – in laymen's terms - a magnet must be able to adhere to it. The magnetic field generated by the induction element reacts with the iron in the cookware, which transfers heat and energy into the cooking vessel.

Induction burners yield the quickest heat-up time in the industry, and can also achieve the instant-on/ instant-off convenience of gas burners and allow for a wide range of burner heat control. "It will bring water to a boil five to eight times faster than a gas cooktop will, and yet hold the most delicate sauces for long periods of time," says Dan Salas. Jerzy Molon of Mebel RUST / Miele states that the selection of Miele induction cook tops has become the preferred cooking format along the Miele Combiset concept of allowing the mixing of cook top components whether wok, grill, griddle, deep fryer or open burners.

Dan Diemer also praises induction, "I love it, and my wife, who had a gas cooktop, does as well. Her skepticism disappeared the first time she spilled something on it – it is so easy to keep clean." Because induction heat only reacts with ferrous iron, food spilled on the cooktop will not bake onto the surface as it would with a traditional gas or electric cooktop. And induction cooktops offer a degree of safety that is exclusive by design – since induction heat only reacts with ferrous iron, it's not hot to the touch.

Naturally, kitchen design can take on a variety of styles reflective in the appliances selected, and different levels of manufacturing come into play. There are the premium brands of Wolf, Monogram, Jenn-Air and Miele; and the mass premium brands of Electrolux, Whirlpool and KitchenAid. Production brands include General Electric, Maytag and Bosch, to the mass production brands of Amana, Hotpoint and Frigidaire. Whatever your fancy, there are cooktop appliances on hand to satisfy any taste, necessity and desire. ///
 
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