glass top range/induction, and making popcorn--help!

mapleaFebruary 28, 2014

Hi: We're building a house, so I am a regular reader of all related gardenweb forums--and now we are trying to decide on a slide in, glass top range....but! husband likes to make popcorn the old-fashioned way and that means shaking / moving a pot across the element, while the popcorn is popping......will this scratch up the glass top? I assume so, even if he has a nice smooth pot to start with...which he doesn't right now.
He is not willing to give up this method but it looks like all ranges are going towards this glass top (which I want).
Any suggestions?
We are contemplating induction too, but not sure if that would work for popcorn making. (with the right type of pot). I have been thinking about one of those portable induction elements, if it would work for making popcorn...then I wouldn't care if he scratched that up.
Please I have to get rid of the husband and his popcorn making ways, if I want a glass top range?

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LOL, induction over husband for sure!

Seriously, the benefits of induction (for me at least) FAR outweigh the benefits of stove-top popcorn. Glass top, maybe not so much, but induction definitely. We have a hot air popper that I bought my (then boyfriend) DH in university... $25 in ~1995 and still going strong!

If you go with keeping the husband and his wiley popcorn ways, you will damage the surface guaranteed. Either go with gas or (gasp) coil cooktop.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 4:26PM
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Hi, Maplea-- We are building a new house too, and switching to induction. And my husband makes popcorn the same way, so I'll be following the responses here as I would really like to keep him! (So much trouble breaking in a new one...) The pan we use is one I've had for 35 years and that's virtuallly all we use it for, I'm just hoping it is magnetic "enough."

I thought the "glass" tops at least for induction were supposed to be super-durable. I hope so, because some of my cast iron is slightly rough on the bottom, and I hate babying things.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 4:43PM
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I would be very careful doing that on a gas stove as well, my sister in law did that on our brand new gas stove and ruined the enamel on the grates, grrrr!

I would buy a small portable cooktop and let him use that.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 4:47PM
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Remember that on Induction you can put paper or pads
under the pot, shake away!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 6:06PM
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    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 6:15PM
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Oh, and I got an air popper for Christmas that I'll gladly send you.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 6:47PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Silpat under the pot. And all cast iron needs to be smooth on the bottom for every kind of range. If it's not, grind it down until it is.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 8:45PM
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Yes, it's just as I suspected a glass top range and my husband are incompatible!
..he doesn't even like the idea of the single element coil burner that's portable ( no idea why, I think it's a great solution). I guess I have to get rid of this husband though I have put in over 20 years of training on him.
Anyone need a well used husband that is unwilling to change his popcorn ways? charge.
Thanks for the help...I knew there were reasonable people out there

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 10:03PM
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put a sheet of newspaper under the pan. If you use a silicone pad just make sure that you don't let the pan get over 450* since the silicone can melt.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 10:14PM
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I'm not convinced constant shaking is necessary; I just lift the pot and shake occasionally. But there's also this option:

Here is a link that might be useful: Induction compatible popcorn kettle

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 8:09AM
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Agree with the use of paper or silicone as a scratch buffer. Parchment may be a better choice than newspaper due to higher temperature capability and no ink transfer. For silicone, use baking sheet pads, available in various sizes. Usually colored iron-oxide red, although a blue version is available. Silpats that I've seen are partly made of transparent silicone and may not be quite as resistant to heat as the iron-oxide versions.

The pan shown above with the stirrer adopts a nice idea, but it too should have a pad under it because it will certainly move a bit reacting to the stir forces.

I use a set of three circular pads cut from red silicone baking pan liners under all pans, and there are no scratches on my Kenmore Elite (Electrolux Icon clone) after 7 years use. If I were shaking a popcorn pan, I would probably use a whole sheet for protection. Note that lifting will cut the induction coupling efficiency, so shaking needs to be done close to the surface. This would bias one toward paper, being lower in friction, but there is a risk of surface chipping if the pan motion is too vigorous and not planar, so the silicone will be a better buffer. It depends on care and skill.

Popcorn only has to get to the point that water turns to steam to pop, so the pan base and the oil used do not need to get to the temperature of slagging silicone. Induction is so fast that it is easy to sometimes overheat pans, discoloring the silicone or even melting it. If a pad is too damaged, just cut out another one from the main sheet. The ceram stays protected.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 11:24AM
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Foodonastump, thanks for the link!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 7:37PM
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I have induction and a popcorn popper that you turn the handle instead of shaking -- it makes perfect popcorn with a couple tablespoons of oil...

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 8:47PM
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I've found that with a nice heavy bottomed pot I don't need to shake it at all. The popcorn rises up and away from the heat as it's popping. Would your husband be willing to try without shaking?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 10:26PM
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re the silpat method: would it work? I thought induction heated the pot directly. I know you can put a piece of paper under and it won't ignite, but would the pot heat enough for popcorn, with something under it?
My DD has an air popper which makes perfect popcorn--no burnt and less unpopped kernels (less oil too).

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 10:57PM
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Ha- love this post as I am that husband! I'm happy to let you know from extensive experience that your husband and a glass cooktop are, in fact, completely compatible :)

I make popcorn at least once a week on our induction cooktop and our glass still looks as good as new. The glass they use on cooktops is nothing like your window glass, and does not scratch easily.

The induction cooktop is my favorite cooktop to make popcorn on, and I've also owned both gas and electric element. There are two big advantages to induction when it comes to popcorn. First, the upper portion of the pot does not get hot, so I don't even use hotpads when I'm removing the popcorn pot- I can just pick the pot up by the handles when it's done. Second, the cook-by-number gives me a consistent, perfect pot every single time - getting the temperature exactly right is way simpler.

Stovetop popcorn is the best there is (except for maybe state fair kettle corn!), and the shake is an essential element of the experience - no need to give it up, and no need to give up your husband, either :)

[Here's another tip - one of the best Christmas presents I've ever received in my whole life was when my wife gave me one year of cleaning the popcorn pot!]

- guest post from the husband of jm_seattle

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 2:26AM
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Induction heats the pot "directly," but it does so via electro-magnetic field lines (low frequency photons for quantum mechanics) that pass through non-inductive materials such as the cooktop glass. Due to the typically toroidal fields that are generated by the induction hob under the glass, the inductive pan to be heated has to be close to the cooktop; i.e., any spacing above the glass has to be modest, and this requirement is easily met by a millimeter or two of padding.

I would add as an example that my Cooktek induction wok hob, which is a concave glass design that conforms to Cooktek's matching steel wok, is designed with a ring at the top to deliberately space the wok from the glass.

You may infer from this that when an induction cooktop glass gets hot, it has become so due to contact with the heated pan. (Spacing the pan off of the glass using silicone pads also reduces the temperature that the glass reaches.)


    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 8:18AM
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Get a gas barbecue with the side burner....then it won't stink up the win!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 11:39AM
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What does your husband put under his pot? I've been using a 4 qt. saucepan with newspaper or paper towel underneath. It works well, but the paper tends to creep so needs frequent repositioning to keep it over the element. I'm used to constantly shaking the pan, a holdover from my gas cooktop days.

Does he shake the pan constantly, frequently, only a few times? Exactly what pot is he using? What does he use, if anything, between his pan and the cooktop? Thank him for me, please. :-)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 9:39AM
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Number of shakes is highly personal. Everyone has their own "style". Popcorn on the stove is the only way to go! Well done husbands : ))

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 10:03AM
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This is hubby again. @FLSandytoes:

I use a Kuchenpot that's just over 2.5L. It's a German brand, but it's nothing fancy and I think we got it at TJ Maxx. I use 1/2 cup of popcorn and the popped volume fills it perfectly. I cook it on a Miele induction cooktop at "7" until I hear 2 seconds between pops.

I do not have anything under the pot between it and the cooktop. There is paint on our cooktop to mark the element locations, and it does not show any signs of wear after ~3 years of popping alongside regular cooking (which, at 1-2 hot meals a day probably adds up to a lot more moving around than popcorn).

I usually do the shaking twice: once at the very beginning, and then once a minute or so into the cycle, but before any pops have started. The purpose of the first shakes are to evenly spread the kernels so they're all exposed to the oil. I'm not really sure if the second set of shakes is necessary, but they give a very pleasing sound of sizzling in the oil, and in theory they help turn the kernels so all sides of them are exposed to the hot oil.

One other thing to mention is that I usually take off the lid when it gets about 3/4 full. I do this because the pot almost exactly fits the volume of popped corn I'm cooking, and the lid gets wet with moisture during cooking. If the popcorn pushes up against the lid, the top kernels can get soggy. Once the pot is 3/4 full, there is enough weight to keep almost all the newly popping kernels from popping out of the pot. I would never be able to do this with gas or electric, because a kernel or two still occasionally pops over, and I'd be too worried about the kernel catching fire. With the induction, I've never been worried as the only hot parts are the bottom of the pot and the area directly underneath it on the cooktop, neither of which is accessible to an occasional flying kernel.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 11:50PM
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The shaking isn't a problem if you pick it up just a hair, or if the bottom of your pot is nice and clean and smooth. Any little burr, however, could ruin the cooktop, as can sliding a pot on crystals like salt or sugar.

I used to wonder what the big deal about scratches was, and finally found out it's not the looks--if you get a scratch with any depth it can weaken the glass, the way a glass cutter does, and while it probably won't happen right away, over time, with use the scratch can become a crack and cause the surface to break.

Silicone mats don't move when you shake, but they're not really slippy for gliding the pan on. If you're pushing paper around with the pan and there's spilled salt underneath, you're hiding the potential scratch from yourself, so it's worth give it a once over with a damp sponge first. And the damp will help hold the paper in place. Papering is also a great way to capture spatter for other kinds of dishes.

I'm sure your husband will learn to love the induction. Look Ma! No flames!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 2:57AM
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Debbi Branka

I have had a glass top electric stove since 1995. I'm trying to replace it with induction (whole other problem since only Viking comes in whte), but I used to used cast iron when I first got my glass top. The instructions were very clear about no cast iron on the glass top. I used it anyway sometimes, but not really often. My top is scratched and has marks, but I guess not too bad for 19 years of use. Just beware if you drop that cast iron, I'm pretty sure the stove top will break.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 10:57AM
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