Perhaps one of the most-overlooked ways to cook is with a slow cooker, also known as a crock-pot. These counter top kitchen appliances offer convenience second only to the microwave—yet they don’t bombard our food with radiation. Some of the best slow cookers on market support all-day cooking so meals can be casually thrown together, while all the difficult part is taken care of automatically!
Slow Cooker Meals are Convenient
If you’re staring at a week from hell—one where you know you’ll be scrambling to cook anything—don’t hesitate to fall back onto your slow cooker. These miraculous inventions can turn 2 cans of beans, a pack of raw meat, and 30 seconds of seasoning into a delicious chili stew while you’re at work! Learning how to use a slow cooker can help you add an entirely new element to your cooking. They’re great for dips, chillis, stews—and can even be used creatively to make such dishes as brownies, lasagnas, or soups. Modern slow cookers have digital controls and precision settings that can even allow the sauteing of vegetables! To get a better look at some of the many benefits of slow cookers, consider what Penn State University has to say:
Slow Cookers Help Tremendously
In an increasingly fast paced world there are times when we just need to SLOW down. Between work, school, children, and life in general, things seem to get more and more complicated. This is where the help of a slow cooker can come in handy. Using a slow cooker usually involves quick preparation and slow cooking time, making it easy for you to have a delicious meal waiting for you and your family at the end of the day.
Benefits of Using a Slow Cooker
- Have a meal at home in the slow cooker eliminates the temptation to order take-out which is often less nutritious and more expensive.
- Slow cookers usually allow one-step preparation. Placing all the ingredients in the slow cooker saves preparation time and cuts down on cleanup.
- Slow cookers are useful throughout the year. Coming in from a cold winter day, the aroma of hot soup is welcoming. Slow cookers also work well for summertime use; they do not heat the kitchen the way an oven might.
- As a result of the long, low-temperature cooking, slow cookers help tenderize less-expensive cuts of meat.
- A slow cooker brings out the flavor in foods. A wide variety of foods can be cooked in a slow cooker, including one pot meals, soups, stews and casseroles.
- A slow cooker uses less electricity than an oven.
Know Your Slow Cooker
Most slow cookers have two or three settings. When using the low setting, food will cook in six to 10 hours. Using the high setting allows food to cook in four to six hours. If possible, turn the slow cooker on the high setting for the first hour of cooking time and then use the setting that fits your needs. One hour on high is about equal to two hours on low. One hour in the oven at 350 degrees F is equivalent to about 4 hours on high, or 8 hours on low. Similarly, 3 hours in the oven is equivalent to 4-6 hours on high and 8-16 hours on low.
Slow cookers vary in size from 1 to 7 quarts. Smaller slow cookers are good for dips or sauces and larger cookers are great for large cuts of meats and soups. A 3.5-4 quart size slow cooker is best if you’ll be cooking for four or fewer people. A 5-7 quart size or larger slower cooker is best if you’ll be cooking for five or more people or you want leftovers.