What is a slow cooker used for? When thinking about an amazing home-cooked meal, some people remember a stew or pot roast their grandma used to laboriously make for Sunday dinners. These dishes often took hours or even a whole day of simmering to really get the rich flavors out of the ingredients and tenderize the meat that it falls off the bones and melts in the mouth.
Replicating such meals today is what most home cooks dream of, except no one, really has enough time for that. In today’s fast-paced world, there is no more time to cook. We live in the age of fast food.
Enter the slow cooker and now even the richest stews can already be enjoyed on weekdays. How? This amazing appliance can really work its magic, especially in busy households.
It makes cooking a lot more convenient, allowing you to enjoy more sumptuous meals without the hassle.
What is a Slow Cooker?
Did the slow cooker pique your interest? Well, it should. Anyone who loves to cook will truly appreciate this appliance. But what is a slow cooker, you might be wondering?
A slow cooker is basically a kitchen countertop appliance that cooks food at a lower temperature. Therefore, it requires a longer running time to complete cooking. This is where it got its name as it slowly cooks your dish to perfection.
Slow cookers are excellent alternatives to cooking pot roasts, stews, soups, and other dishes that require hours of simmering on the stove. This is the best part about this appliance: you can just set it up and leave it to do the work without any worries. The food won’t burn in a slow cooker, due to the low-temperature cooking.
It can get the job done without any supervision as the unit is fully enclosed and doesn’t require regular stirring and mixing for even cooking. You can leave these appliances on when you leave for work and come back hours later to a delicious home-cooked meal.
Busy households consider these appliances as lifesavers as they definitely take the hassle away from cooking. Using a slow cooker can definitely save you some time in preparing your family’s meals and it can also minimize your consumption of junk and fast food.
With a slow cooker, even if you’re pressed for time, you don’t have to worry about whipping up a tasty and healthy meal for your family as it will still let you cook from all-natural ingredients without breaking a sweat.
How a Slow Cooker Works
Slow cookers work with the help of moist heat. It raises the temperature up to a certain degree that won’t be too hot to sear, toast, and burn the ingredients.
A slow cooker consists of three parts
- Pot or Crock
- Base with controls and a heating element
Basic units have a simple mechanical switch with three heat settings, low, high, and warm. Some also have built-in timers so you can easily select the needed settings for the heat and cooking time and you’re good to go.
Slow cookers have a heating element located in the base of the unit. This allows them to raise the temperatures high enough to create a moist heat that will then stay trapped inside the cooking pot and cook your ingredients slowly but thoroughly.
Some slow cookers also have heating elements on the sides, providing more ways to cook your food. They’re often marketed as more efficient than traditional varieties with their heating elements at the bottom, but it all still depends on the quality and mechanism used in the appliance.
As you’re supposed to leave the appliance alone as it works, you can expect it to evenly cook its contents.
Slow Cooker Sizes
Choose a smaller or larger slow cooker depending on how many people you need to feed in your household. Popular sizes start at below 3 quarts of up to 8 quarts. A 4-quart model is large enough for a four-person household. The larger models are for big families or if you want to store food away. Keep in mind that a slow cooker should be filled at around three-quarters to be most efficient, don’t overfill. So a model that has a 4-quart capacity rating is effectively only 3 quarts.
Crock Pots vs. Slow Cookers
You’ll also hear a lot of people refer to their slow cookers as “crock pots”. This might confuse you, especially if you’ve never really worked with slow cookers before.
What you should know, though, is that crock pots are slow cookers too, so there’s really nothing to be confused about.
“Crock-Pot” is a brand name of basically the most famous kind of slow cookers in the market. It’s a case of a trademarked name becoming a household name, really, so they’re not too different from one another.
However, Crock-Pot units are best known for their ceramic pots, while other slow cookers use other materials. Some also have additional heating elements on the walls of the pot so they tend to be set apart from slow cookers offered by other brands.
What are the benefits of a Slow Cooker?
If you’re looking for a reliable kitchen appliance that will really make a huge difference in your kitchen, a slow cooker can be one of the best options available to you.
The advantages of a slow cooker are obvious: due to the low temperature below the boiling point, food simmers slow and gentle until it’s done. Nutrients and Vitamins are retained while aromas and flavors unfold.
Compared to stewing a roast in the oven less energy is consumed.
And last but not least, you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen watching the food not to burn. Simply put all ingredients into the pot and let its slow cook until it is time to eat.
Slow cookers do have various benefits that speak for them. Anyone who has cooked a couple of times using one will realize how convenient a slow cooker can be. Even those who are busy and have little time at home for cooking can, with a bit of planning ahead, prepare a warm, tasty and healthy meal for their family with the help of a slow cooker.