Do you love home-cooked meals but you always run out of time? With your busy lifestyle, cooking delicious meals is a challenge. You might just order pizza or reheat leftovers. But here’s the good news: you can actually cook delicious, healthy meals that do not require too much time and effort. You can do it with a slow cooker. What is a slow cooker? What is a good slow cooker to buy? How much does it cost?
Slow cookers are seeing a revival in today’s busy age. They are electrical cooking appliances that use a lower temperature and longer hours to cook meals.
You can leave it for hours and go home to a delicious meal prepared by you.
There are different slow cooker brands to choose from. But how do you determine slow cooker brands of good quality and practical features?
So, what is a good slow cooker to buy? Factors to consider:
Slow cooker type
Slow cookers are generally identified according to type: programmable slow cookers and mechanical slow cookers. Mechanical slow cookers have the most basic functions – the temperature settings (warm, low, and high) and a light indicator.
You need to manually turn it off or switch to the warm setting when the cooking time is up. You need to monitor the recipe especially if it’s in a small quantity.
On the other hand, the programmable slow cooker has more advanced features. It has a digital timer, LED display, and auto shut off and/or auto warm functions.
Slow cookers come in different sizes from 1.5 – 8 quarts capacity. If you are living solo or have a small family, a tiny slow cooker, about 3 – 4 quarts, is a good choice.
It saves energy because you only cook meals in an economic quantity. If you usually make dips and soups, a small slow cooker is a good choice too.
Slow cookers with average sizes have around 6-quart capacities. When cooking for larger groups, then you need to own bigger slow cookers.
The crock, or cooking pot, is where the ingredients are placed for cooking. It is placed inside the housing (usually made of metal) that consists of the electric heating element.
The crock is made of metal, porcelain, or ceramic. Any kind of crock does a good job. The important thing is to make sure that the crock is removable so you can easily clean it up.
While you are using your slow cooker, avoid opening the lid to check on your meal. If you need to stir your recipe, do it really quick.
This is a must to avoid adding more than 20 minutes in cooking time. Manufacturers have a smart answer to this: glass lids. Glass lids not only make a tight seal but also allow you to view your recipe without lifting the lid.
Features are added functions that make a slow cooker more convenient and efficient. Programmable slow cookers have different features such as a timer, LED display, cool-touch handles, ease of cleaning, and more.
Determine the features that come with the slow cooker you want to buy. Also expect that the more features a slow cooker has, the more expensive it is.
How to cook using a slow cooker?
Some recipes require different methods when they are cooked in a slow cooker. Here are some useful tips to know, especially for slow cooker newbies and novice cooks:
Sear the meat first
To add more flavor and color to the meat, brown it first before putting it inside the pot. Do it by waxing the skillet with good cooking oil, browning the meat on it, and when the meat is brown on all sides, put it inside the slow cooker.
Then that’s the time you can set up the slow cooker and leave it behind.
Know when to add ingredients
Some ingredients need to be added at the beginning, while some need to be added towards the end. Dairy products should be added at the end because they may curdle and become oily when added too early.
Prepare the ingredients
You may prepare and place the ingredients in the crockpot, then keep it in the fridge overnight, and cook it in the morning.
Avoid thawing frozen food in the pot. Although the food eventually thaws in the pot, it will lose a lot of water and the dish may turn out watery. Meat, fish, and vegetables should always be completely thawed before cooking.
Don’t start cooking when the ingredients are still frozen, because this may extend the cooking time.
You might already have the answer to your query, “What is a good slow cooker to buy?” Among the wide variety of slow cooker brands and the buying guidelines above, you should be able to determine what is a good slow cooker to buy.