Slow cookers are the best friend of a lazy chef, the secret weapon of a busy cook, and the backbone of any well-rounded arsenal of kitchen appliances. Here are nine reasons why a kitchen island should be considered.
Once upon a time, slow cookers, also known as crockpots, were one of the most coveted kitchen appliances. In the 1970s, when more mothers began to work outside the home, their popularity skyrocketed. The slow cooker met their need for a straightforward, time-saving method of putting dinner on the table when their families arrived home.
Since then, the slow cooker has experienced a slight decline in popularity. As slow-cooker models become more advanced and our lifestyles become more hectic, we anticipate a small resurgence.
If you’re on the fence about purchasing a slow cooker, allow us to highlight its many advantages.
What Is a Slow Cooker?
An electric slow cooker simmers food at a low temperature for an extended period. Due to this low-and-slow cooking method, slow cookers are ideal for tenderizing and breaking down large cuts of meat such as pot roasts and beef stews. However, this is not all they can do. Slow cookers are also the appliance of choice for soups, ribs, dips, beverages, and bread.
In addition to its versatility, a slow cooker has many other advantages, such as the ability to cook food evenly without using your hands. This allows home cooks to complete other chores, run errands, or go to work during the day. In addition, slow cookers are simple to use and typically require nothing more than plugging them in.
In addition, there is a sneaky way to utilize a slow cooker around the house.
How to use a slow cooker
Find out how to use a slow cooker, including how much liquid to use, how long to cook the recipe, how to thicken sauces, and tips for preparing meat and vegetables.
Slow cookers are inexpensive to purchase, economical to operate, and excellent for making the most of cheap ingredients. Make stews, curries, and even desserts in a slow cooker that is simple to use. Perfect for busy weeknights and family dinners, add your ingredients and let the machine do the work.
Check out our slow cooker recipes for roasts, casseroles, and more. Are we looking to reduce expenses? Try our top 10 inexpensive slow cooker recipes for meatballs in sauce, shepherd’s pie, and macaroni and cheese. Discover healthy recipes with our slow cooker healthy meals.
Chicken is excellent for slow cooking because it becomes increasingly tender over time. Check out our finest slow cooker chicken recipes for korma, pulled chicken, and Thai curry. Is it eliminating meat? Check out our vegan slow cooker recipes for ideas.
Benefits Of Using A Slow Cooker
Are you perpetually active and on the move? Do you find it challenging to cook for yourself or your family? Using a slow cooker could be the solution you seek! Although you may associate slow cooking with colder months, using a slow cooker year-round can save you time and allow you to complete other tasks while you cook. Here are six compelling reasons to use your slow cooker this week:
Encouragement to consume meals at home
With a slow cooker, you can begin cooking before leaving for work and return home to a delicious hot meal. Knowing you will return home to a home-cooked meal will reduce your desire to eat out or stop at a fast-food restaurant on your way home from work. This will save you money, improve your health, and reduce your waistline.
Enhances the flavor of foods
Slow cooking brings out the flavors of the ingredients in the same way that food marinated longer tastes better. In the slow cooker, all ingredients can simmer together at a low temperature, allowing them to absorb more flavor.
With a slow cooker, you will only need to clean one pot after cooking a meal. Who doesn’t enjoy less mess!
Cook in bulk for the week.
Most slow cookers can accommodate multiple servings. Typically, slow cooker recipes yield between six and eight servings. There will be leftovers for the next few days and enough to freeze for later. You will save time cooking fewer meals per week rather than every night.
Slow cookers consume less electricity than conventional ovens, allowing you to save money and energy.
Tenderize tough meat cuts.
Tough cuts such as chuck steaks and roasts become tender through slow cooking. Using a slow cooker enables you to enjoy these leaner and more affordable cuts of meat.
How long should I cook a recipe in a slow cooker?
If a dish normally requires:
- 15-30 minutes, cook on High for 1-2 hours or Low for 4-6 hours.
- Thirty minutes to 1 hour, then cook on High for 2-3 hours or Low for 5-7 hours.
- 1-2 hours, cook it on High for 3-4 hours or on Low for 6-8 hours.
- 2-4 hours, cook on High for 4-6 hours or Low for 8-12 hours.
Root vegetables take longer to cook than meat and other vegetables, so place them in the bottom of the pot near the heat source.
Factors To Consider When Choosing A Slow Cooker
All slow cookers perform the same function: cook food at a shallow temperature. Most cooktops have two heat settings, but they vary considerably. This guide to purchasing a Slow Cooker will help you determine which features you require to narrow your options.
After weeks of consideration, I decided and decided to compile a list of factors to consider when purchasing a slow cooker.
- 1.5-liters: If space is limited or you typically cook for 1-2 people, this size is ideal, but you won’t be able to cook a chicken in it.
- 3.5 liters: This is the capacity I employ. It’s large enough for a casserole for four to six people, including vegetables, and can fit a 1.5-kilogram chicken or ham.
- 6.5-litres: If you have a large family who likes to cook for the freezer or feed six or more people, I recommend purchasing this pot. If you’re cooking something smaller, you don’t need to fill it up.
Method of heating
Most slow cookers have a base that encloses a detachable insert. Occasionally, the heating element is only on the bottom, or if you’re fortunate, it extends up the side of the base (which allows heat to be more evenly distributed).
Some slow cookers consist only of a crock that sits atop the heating element. It may be necessary to stir the food more frequently to prevent scorching, which is the antithesis of why we enjoy slow cookers.
There are also metal crocks, despite the prevalence of ceramic and porcelain alternatives. They are all influential heat conductors, so your preference is the deciding factor. Critical about the crock, however, is that it is detachable for easy cleaning. Slow cookers with a crock and heating element fused are neither enjoyable nor straightforward to clean.
When using a slow cooker, you should avoid opening the lid, as doing so allows heat to escape and lengthens the cooking time. Slow cookers with glass lids, which will enable you to observe the cooking process without removing the lid, are preferable to plastic or opaque models.
Slow cookers are typically round or oval. Which is the best? There is no correct answer. Consider what you intend to cook in the slow cooker and let that determine the shape you select. For example, whole chickens, brisket, or ribs will fit better in an oval shape, but if you typically prepare beans or stews, the shape is less important, and you can purchase the one that works better in your cabinet or on your countertop.
Some slow cookers now include a sear function that makes browning meats or sautéing onions or vegetables easier, but this function typically comes at a premium price.
It can be created in two distinct ways: For those without a stovetop, the ability to sear food directly in the insert using a sear setting before switching to slow cooking is a desirable feature. The second way searing can occur is if the insert is safe for use on the stovetop:
- Place it directly on the stove.
- Sear the meat directly in the insert.
- Return the insert to the slow cooker to complete cooking.
Both methods allow you to clean one less pan, although the surface area on the bottom of an insert may be smaller than that of a frying pan, and you may need to sear food in batches. You can omit this function if you’re on a tight budget or prefer fine searing on the stovetop.
I adore slow cookers that include a timer, whether a digital timer or a selection of preset cooking times. A slow cooker with a built-in timer prevents food from becoming overcooked and mushy unless you plan to be present to turn it off at the appropriate time.
Some slow cookers also include a warming function, which maintains food at a lower temperature while keeping it warm. They can also be connected to built-in timers so that the slow cooker automatically switches to the warm setting when the timer goes off.
The warming function is ideal for maintaining party foods at a warm but not scalding temperature. It also allows you to return home to food that is still warm but not overcooked if you are away from home longer than the food requires to cook.
What’s the Best Slow Cooker to Buy?
There are several factors to consider when purchasing a slow cooker, including how many people you typically cook for, your budget, and the essential features. We’ve compiled this exhaustive guide to help you find the best slow cooker for your needs.
What Can You Cook in a Slow Cooker?
You can cook virtually anything in a slow cooker. You’re probably most familiar with slow-cooker main dishes, such as shredded chicken tacos, meatloaf, and puller pork sandwiches, as well as warm, slow-cooked soups, stews, and chili acquire more flavor from hours of simmering. And one-dish meals, such as casseroles made in a slow cooker, make dinner a breeze.
Popular slow cooker side dishes include cooked potatoes and vegetable dishes because they free up oven space for the main dish. If you’ve ever had a sweet potato that was overly crisp or a carrot that was too soft, our Test Kitchen recommends being mindful of how you cut your potatoes and vegetables. They must be prepared uniformly according to the recipe. Larger portions may be undercooked, while smaller portions may be overcooked. Additionally, soft vegetables such as peas, spinach, and zucchini should be added later in the cooking process. This will prevent them from becoming excessively mushy or disintegrating entirely.
You may not be aware of a few unexpected uses for a slow cooker. Slow cooker hashbrowns, oatmeal, and even cinnamon rolls make hands-free breakfast and brunch recipes a possibility. You can also plan for a party by preparing cheese dip or fondue in a slow cooker. Or, try a slow pasta dish, but be careful not to overcook the pasta, or it will become grainy.
And slow cookers are not limited to savory foods. Make something sweet with these slow cooker dessert recipes, which include cakes, puddings, and candy clusters, or indulge in a sweet slow cooker beverage, such as hot cocoa or tea with a tropical flavor.
How to Care for a Slow Cooker
With detachable crocks, cleaning and maintaining a slow cooker is straightforward. Consider the following methods for cleaning a slow cooker:
- Remove the crock and lid from the heating element after each use and wash them with dish soap and water. If there are any stains or spills on the exterior of the cooking part, clean it with a damp paper towel.
- When stubborn stains: If your crock has stubborn stains that soap and water cannot remove, use baking soda. Make a paste of baking soda and water, then use a soft-bristled scrub brush to remove food particles.
- There are many tough spots: When your crock is covered in bits of browned food, it is time to soak it. Add 14 cups of white vinegar and 14 cups of baking soda to the water in a slow cooker that is approximately 3/4 full. Allow the mixture to rest for an hour. After that, food debris should be easily removable. Or you can altogether avoid cleanup by using a slow cooker liner ($6).
In addition to cleaning your slow cooker, it is essential to maintain its safety. You must follow these slow cooker safety rules, from leaving it on overnight to using a model from the 1970s.
Benefits Of Using A Slow Cooker – FAQs
An electric slow cooker simmers food at a low temperature for an extended period. Due to this low-and-slow cooking method, slow cookers are ideal for tenderizing and breaking down significant cuts of meat such as pot roasts and beef stews.
Yes, if they are correctly utilized. Typically, the slow cooker cook’s food at a low temperature, between 170- and 280-degrees Fahrenheit, for several hours. Due to the combination of direct heat from the pot, prolonged cooking, and steam, the slow cooker is a safe method for cooking food.
Modern slow cookers consume as little as 150 watts per hour on the lowest setting.
Only add water to a crock pot if the recipe or meal you are slow cooking calls for it. Some foods, such as ham, do not require the addition of liquid. Other recipes, such as soup and slow cooker bread, need water. Lastly, some recipes call for additional liquid (such as broth) but not water.
Water can be boiled in a slow cooker, but it will take at least two hours on High. The exact cooking time will vary based on the amount of water and slow cooker model. In addition, the water in a slow cooker will likely reach a simmering boil and may never get a full rolling boil.
Slow cookers are ideal for cooking less expensive cuts of meat such as beef brisket, pork shoulder, lamb shoulder, and chicken thighs. Slow cooking extracts a meaty flavor that permeates the dish, allowing you to use less meat.
Does slow cooking destroy more nutrients than cooking at a high temperature? Slow cooking does not reduce nutrient loss. The lower temperatures may help preserve nutrients lost during rapid cooking at high temperatures. Moreover, food cooked slowly usually tastes better.
Wrapping It Up
Even if you have the cooking skills of a three-toed sloth, you can still prepare simple, healthier, and relatively inexpensive meals as I do. The beauty of these dishes is that they are virtually foolproof. There are no hard and fast rules regarding how much or how little of something you should use. An infinite number of food combinations and recipes are available to ensure that you never go hungry, and you don’t even need to chop anything.
Therefore, if you don’t already have one in your kitchen, it may end up under your Christmas tree this year, as is my hope for some scented candles in economical sizes.
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