With this cold snap we are experiencing at the moment, I thought it appropriate to have a look at what a slow cooker is and some of the best options out there on the market.
A slow cooker (or crock pot as they were once known) is an essential kitchen appliance for the busy, time-poor families of today. Shaped like a large pot with a lid and controls for cooking on the front or side, food is cooked at a low temperature over a extended period of time. This way of cooking, ensures your creation is tender, moist and infused with all the flavours you want.
One might think that having an appliance that takes a long time to cook a meal is counter-productive to our busy lives, but imagine throwing everything in the slow cooker in the morning and coming home to a fresh, tasty and home cooked meal in the evening!
Benefits of slow cooking
Besides being a massive time saver, the slow cooker has other benefits too. According to Sharon from Simpler and Smarter, these include:
- It helps to intensify the flavours of the dish you are creating, due to the slow nature of the cooking process
- Nutrients in meat and vegetables are kept inside, and not lost
- It keeps moisture inside the dish, which tenderises meat and vegetables
- It is convenient, i.e. you can leave your meal cooking whilst you go to work, and it is will be ready when you return.
Your personal requirements
So if you don’t already have one of these time savers in your kitchen, which one do you buy? Like everything else in the saturated retail market, there are a large number of options for consumers to choose from. You need to ask yourself a few questions prior to purchase in order to narrow down your choices:
- How big is your family? Are you a singleton wanting to prepare yourself more nutritious meals without alot of work or are you a busy family with parents working and kids that need ferrying to and from school and after school activities? How many you need to cook for will determine the size of slow cooker you require.
- How much space do you have? A slow cooker is not a small appliance by any means, but the best one for your situation will not be large in its actual size, but in the amount, you can actually fit into the bowl you are cooking your food in.
- What sort of features do you require? Do you just want a basic slow cooker without all the bells and whistles that cooks your food adequately or do you need digital timers, auto switch off features, or for it to be totally programmable, so you can choose your time and temperature. Obviously, the higher end models will have more features than the budget options.
- How much do you want to spend? As with most things there is a range, there are slow cookers as cheap as $45 whilst high end ones will have you outlaying upward of $300!
The best slow cookers for 2018
One of Australia’s best comparison sites Finder has listed their Top 5 slow cookers in specific categories to make buying a slow cooker for your situation, a little easier:
Russell Hobbs 4L Slow Cooker – Matte Black
This Russell Hobbs slow cooker is the perfect size – not too big, not too small – and a heavy-duty, high-quality choice for less than $50. Plus it’s stylish in matte black.
BEST FOR A BIG FAMILY
Crockpot Saute Slow Cooker
This pot cooks 6.5 litres at once, which is large enough to feed a crowd (and have leftovers) but still small enough that you will get an evenly-heated cooking area. It has a 20-hour long program, ideal if you are really slow-cooking meat or making a conserve like jam.
Tefal – CY7011 – COOK4ME
The shape of the pot really makes this product stand out. It’s circular shape and rounded edge helps steam circulate faster and at a higher temperature cutting down cook times. Plus it’s quite compact for such a high-performance appliance.
Breville Fast Slow Pro Multicooker
This is a stylish and high-performance appliance with a range of pre-set programs and manual settings, an interactive LCD screen, dual sensors, a hands-free steam release and more. It comes with an additional steaming insert.
KitchenAid Multi Cooker with Stir Tower – Medallion Silver
It has ten pre-programmed functions, plus many more on manual settings and can sauté, sear, bake, and is great for soups, yoghurt and more.
So there you have it! A bit of a round-up for the slow cooker season that given the forecast, is well and truly upon us!