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I like to cook using poaching and low simmering techniques (70°C to 85°C, about 160°F to 190°F). I want to get an induction cooktop, but the ones I can afford only have 10 temperature settings.

I worry that the gradations won't give me enough precision at low temperatures. Like, maybe at a 1 it'll heat the contents to 70°C, and at a 2 it'll heat them to 80°C - so I wouldn't be able to cook at 75°C if I wanted.

So I was wondering if it was possible to position the pot a little off center, or maybe put a few silicone mats under it or something, as a way of slightly reducing the heat. In the example above, Could I simply set it to a 2 and give it enough distance that the contents would stay near 75C?

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I've had an induction cooktop before. The second method will work, I prefer to use a thin wooden coming board as the spacer. It's not perfect, but it is good enough for traditional applications like keeping soup at a simmer instead of a roiling boil. Putting it off-center won't work, induction stoves have a sensor and turn off if the pot doesn't cover the whole coil.

It becomes more difficult if you are cooking small amounts, if the temperature you need is higher (there is a risk the pan underside will get hot enough to damage the spacer after some time), or if your pan is thinner.

I have never tried to get a precision of 5 C, so I don't know how much fuss it will need. But there are two problems with that. First, the low settings of an induction stove are still quite hot. Second, the "low" setting is achieved by pulsing the coil to the "on" and "off" state over time. Since the heat transfer is so efficient, the water in the pot also constantly changes it's temperature, unless you get a rather large pot.

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  • Thanks! It really helps to know that someone has managed to get at least a noticeable difference with a spacer. I'm pretty excited to experiment with it. As for the low settings being quite hot, that's strange, it doesn't match my research. I found a few manuals for some cooktops sold where I live, and they claim their lowest setting is 60C (though I'm not fully sure what that means in practice) Oct 31, 2021 at 17:44
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Your concerns are valid, it's very hard to get a precise temperature with an induction cooktop. The short answer to your question is no, neither of those methods will work. If you put your pot too far off-center it just won't heat at all, if you put silicone mats underneath it's not going to change the heat profile much and the heat of the pan could melt them and damage your cooktop.

If you want precision poaching rather than induction you should invest in an immersion circulator instead, they are not expensive, and they give you absolute precision.

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  • Thanks for your reply. Would you happen to know whether putting the pot off-center (but not too far off-center, so it's still detected) would at least theoretically make a difference in heat output? I do not understand much about induction, but less contact means it must generate less heat, right? Oct 30, 2021 at 20:24
  • In my experience with induction no, it doesn't make much of a difference at all. It would heat much the same until the worktop's computer decides it doesn't have enough contact and turns off.
    – GdD
    Nov 1, 2021 at 8:43

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