Cook at leisure: everything you need to know about slow cookers
A slow cooker is a handy kitchen appliance that allows you to cook food gradually over a period of several hours. Slow cookers are becoming increasingly popular amongst British households, as they offer an easy way to prepare delicious, nutritious meals without spending too much time in the kitchen. This guide will provide you with all the information you need to know about slow cookers, so that you can make an informed decision when buying one.
What is a slow cooker?
A slow cooker is an electric kitchen appliance that cooks food slowly over a period of several hours. Slow cookers use low heat to slowly cook the ingredients inside. This process of slow cooking preserves the natural flavours and nutrients of the food while tenderising some ingredients like meat. Moreover, as low energy stew pots, they require next to no babysitting during the cooking process, so you can get on with other things.
Types of slow cookers
There are several different types of slow cookers available on the market today. The type of slow cooker that you choose will depend on your needs and budget.
Traditional slow cookers
Traditional slow cookers are typically round or oval shaped and feature two dials: one for temperature control and one for timer control. They usually come with two or three heat settings (low, medium, and high) and a timer that can be set anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours. Traditional slow cookers are ideal for those who want an easy-to-use appliance without any fancy features or high-tech bells and whistles.
Programmable slow cookers
Programmable slow cookers are similar to traditional slow cookers in terms of shape, but they offer more advanced features such as pre-programmed settings for specific dishes (e.g., stews, soups, etc.). These types of slow cookers usually come with more than three heat settings (low, medium, high, warm) and a timer that can be set up to 24 hours in advance.
Programmable slow cookers are great for those who want more control over their cooking process and want an appliance that can be programmed to start cooking at a certain time without having to manually set it up each time.
Multi cookers are essentially all-in-one appliances that can perform multiple functions such as pressure cooking, sautéing, steaming and more in addition to slow cooking. They usually come with additional features such as pre-programmed settings for specific dishes (e.g., stews, soups, etc.) as well as multiple heat settings (low, medium, high) and timers that can be set up to 24 hours in advance. Multi cookers are ideal for those who want an appliance that can do more than just traditional slow cooking and have an extra bit of money to spare.
When buying a slow cooker, it is important to consider the size and capacity of the appliance before making your purchase. The size of your slow cooker should depend on how much food you plan on preparing with it at once; if you’re only going to be using it for small meals like soups or stews then a smaller model may be sufficient. However, if you plan on preparing larger meals or feasts then you may want to opt for a larger model with greater capacity.
The capacity of your slow cooker is typically measured in litres (L) or quarts (qt). A smaller model may have a capacity of 1L or 1qt whereas larger models may have capacities up to 6L or 6qt or even more; so depending on how much food you plan on preparing at once will determine the size/capacity of your slow cooker should be.
Prices & budget
When buying a slow cooker it is important to consider your budget before making your purchase. Slow cookers aren't as expensive as you might first assume, with quality budget offerings from brands such as Daewoo, Swan and Morphy Richards clocking in at around £35.
Of course if you have some extra money available then investing in a higher quality model with additional features such as pre-programmed settings or multi-functionality may be worthwhile. For instance, the best multi cookers from brands like Ninja, Tower and Tefal costing between £100 and £300 depending on the features of the individual model.
With all this information at hand you should now be able to make an informed decision when buying a new slow cooker – happy shopping!