Slow cookers are great for the busy person who wants to be able to come home from work and not have to worry about preparing meals. They are the ultimate set and forget cooking device. They are also safe and very easy to clean up because everything is cooked in a single pot.
They are also called crock pots which is a trademarked name now belonging to Sunbeam Products. They are counter top cooking appliances that can maintain a constant low temperature for long periods of time. They can be left unattended for many hours especially the programmable one and can cook many different meals but are primarily used for roasts, stews and soups.
They are made of ceramic or porcelain and are set in a metal housing that controls the heating element. Some of the top brands are Hamilton Beach, Cuisinart and Crock Pot.
The lid is usually glass that sets in a groove on the edge. This groove collects condensation and creates a very low pressure seal. They are different from pressure cookers because the pressure inside a slow cooker is basically the same as the atmospheric pressure and is very safe compared to a pressure cooker which can be dangerous because of the amount of pressure built up.
The Sizes of Slow Cookers
They are made in several different sizes and are generally measured in quarts with the average size being from 3-5 quarts. The large one can be as large as 7.5 quarts while the small ones are great for cooking for 1 or 2 people and can also be used for preparing appetizers or side dishes. The large sizes that are 6 quarts or so, can prepare a full meal for a large family. Many people will cook the main dish such as a roast as well as potatoes and veggies all in one pot. I will usually cook my side dishes in a separate unit but it is not necessary.
The Best Types of Foods to Cook in Slow Cooker
Certain kinds of foods are ideal for slow cookers. Many people like to cook cheaper cuts of meat in them because the long, slow cooking times will soften the tissue and muscle fiber while at the same time not toughening the meat. I have had some very cheap cuts of stew meat that come out mouthwatering if cooked properly.
It is very hard to overcook something in a slow cooker because of the low temperatures. You can find numerous cookbooks on the market with a huge variety of great recipes to choose from. Overall, they are economical, versatile and make a great addition to your kitchen.