Like most small appliance on the market today there are a considerable number of them available to purchase. So, the question is, “what’s the best slow cooker“? Our goal at Ron’s Appliances is to help you find the right slow cooker or combination cooker for you.
What is a Slow Cooker
A slow cooker, also known as a crock-pot, is a countertop electrical cooking appliance used to simmer at a lower temperature than other cooking methods, such as baking, boiling, and frying. This facilitates unattended cooking for many hours of dishes that would otherwise be boiled; pot roast, soups, stews and other dishes.
A wide variety of dishes can be prepared in slow cookers, including ones typically made quickly, such as cocoa and bread.
What Does a Slow Cooker Look Like
The basic slow cooker consists of a round or oval lidded cooking pot made of glazed ceramic or porcelain. There are also larger rectangular slow cookers with a removable porcelain pot made for cooking larger amounts of food. In both the small and the larger cases the pots are usually surrounded by a metal housing containing the controls and a heating element.
The lid of the cooker itself is often made of glass on the smaller cookers and metal on the larger ones. The lid is seated in a groove in the pot edge; condensed vapor collects in the groove and provides a low-pressure seal to the atmosphere. The contents of a slow cooker are effectively at atmospheric pressure, despite the water vapor generated inside the pot. A slow cooker is different from a pressure cooker in that there is no danger of an abrupt pressure release.
The ceramic pot, itself acts as both a cooking container and a heat reservoir. Slow cookers come in capacities ranging from 500 ml (17 US fl oz) to 7 L (7.4 US qt). Because the heating elements are normally located on the bottom and often partway up the sides, most slow cookers have a minimum recommended liquid level to avoid uncontrolled heating.
Many slow cookers have two or more heat settings ( low, medium, high, and sometimes a “keep warm” setting): some have continuously variable power.
How do You Operate the Slow Cooker
To use a slow cooker, You place raw food and a liquid, such as stock, water, or wine in the slow cooker. Some recipes may call for a preheated liquid. You then put the lid on the slow cooker and turn it on. Some cookers automatically switch from cooking to warming (maintaining the temperature at 71-74 degrees C (160-165 degrees F) after a fixed time or after the internal temperature of the food, as determined by a probe, reaches a specific value.
The heating element heats the contents to a steady temperature in the 79-93 degree C (174-179 degree F) range. The contents are enclosed by the pot and lid and attain a constant temperature. The vapor that condensed on the bottom of the lid returns to the cooking food as liquid. This liquid will contain some water-soluble vitamins’ that have leached out of the food.
Basic cookers, which have only high, medium, low, or keep warm settings, must be turned off manually. More advanced cookers have computerized timing devices that let a cook program the cooker to perform multiple operations and to delay the start of cooking.
Because food cooked in slow cookers stays warm for a long time after it is switched off, you can use the slow cooker to take food elsewhere to eat without reheating or you can reheat the food when you get there. Some slow cookers have lids that seal to prevent spillage during transport.
What are the Advantages of Slow Cookers
- Cheaper cuts of meat with connective tissue and lean muscle fibers are suitable for stewing, and produce tastier stew than those using more expensive cuts of meat.
- The low cooking temperature of slow-cooking makes it almost impossible to burn food that has cooked too long. However, some meats and most vegetables become nearly tasteless if over-cooked.
- Food can be set to slow-cook before leaving for the day so it is ready on return.
- Cooking the meal in a single pot reduces water waste resulting form cleaning multiple dishes, and the low cooking temperature and glazed pot make cleaning easier than conventional high-heat pots.
What are the Disadvantages of Slow Cookers
- Some vitamins’ ans other trace nutrients are lost, particularly from vegetables
- Slow cookers do not provide sufficient heat to compensate for loss of moisture and heat due to frequent removal of the lid to add and remove food in perpetual stews. Added ingredients must be given time to cook before the food can be eaten.
- Because of the longer cooking time, there is greater danger with slow cookers of having an extended power outage during cooking without your knowledge; for example, the power may go out for several hours while you are away at work in places with unreliable power supply.
What are the Hazards of Slow Cookers
Slow cookers are less dangerous than ovens or stove tops due to their lower temperatures and closed lids. However, thy still contain a large amount of foods and liquids at temperatures close to boiling, and they can cause serious scalds if spilled.
Raw kidney beans, and to a lesser extent, some other beans such as broad beans of fava beans, contain the highly toxic lectin phytohemagglutnin. Boiling destroys this lectin, but the far lower temperatures of a slow cooker does not. This means that dry beans must be boiled at 100 degrees C (212 degrees F) for at least 30 minutes prior to slow cooking, or they must be soaked in water overnight, after which the water must be discarded and the beans boiled for at least 10 minutes. Even a few beans can be toxic, and beans can be as much as five times more toxic if cooked at 80 degrees C (176 degrees F) than if eaten raw, so adequate pre-boiling is vital to avoid poisoning.
So, What’s the Best Slow Cooker for You
From the article above, you can see the advantages and disadvantages of slow cooking. Moreover, you can see that using a slow cooker can reduce your cooking time greatly. Think how nice it will be when you can throw some food into a slow cooker before you go to work and have it cook your meal while you’re gone and have it ready when you return home. Just think, what a hit you are going to be with your family when they receive a nice hot meal for dinner. What’s the best slow cooker? The best slow cooker will be the one that fits your needs. Not too big, not too small, all the right features (timers, or not, probes, or not) that will make it the ideal slow cooker for you.