A slow cooker is a real boon in any household. If you are a Paleo fan, it is close to a necessity, particularly if you don’t have time to spend hours in the kitchen.
You can put the ingredients in there, and let the slow cooker get on with it while you deal with life, work, kids or whatever.
With the huge range of models and prices on the market, what things should you look at to make your choice and select the best model for you?
Price isn’t always an indicator of quality, so you need to have a look at specifics when making your choice. One of the first things to consider is just how often you plan on using it.
I cook with my current model most days so I invested in something that will stand up to this more rigorous use.
When using it daily, I like to make sure it heats as evenly as possible. Some slow cookers have the heating element in the base only.
Others have them on the sides of the container too. This creates more uniform heating of the food.
Something even more obvious is size and shape. If you are like me and you make new stuff from one day to the next, you don’t need a huge model.
I usually do enough for the family and then maybe a little more.
I have friends who take a different approach. They might do a giant cook up on Sundays and then freeze portions for the rest of the week.
The shape is important too. There are some great oval models out there, but if they don’t fit on your hob they really aren’t a lot of use!
A good tip for the anyone who likes to check on their food (or if you often get the cooking time wrong!) is to pick something with a glass lid.
When slow cooking, you can’t just take the lid off to see how stuff is coming along. You want to keep all that precious heat in there.
If you can peer through the lid, this should at least give you an idea of how much longer it will take and satisfy your curiosity!
Think about a sear function too. This can be a costly option, but for some people, it will be worth it.
Basically, what this does is it cooks the outside of something like a piece of beef before switching to slow cooking.
This is important to keep the moisture in and makes the difference between a lovely, succulent meal and something much drier.
As there are so many different slow cookers (crock pots) available today, how do you decide which one is right for your needs?
Well before you invest in such kitchen equipment here are 3 things you need to consider. These will help to ensure that you make the right investment.
This is something very important that you need to consider. It will help you decide the size of the slow cooker you need to buy.
On the box, it may say that the crock pot can hold up to 6 liters. But in reality, they hold less.
With most of these appliances, you’ll find that the space available is only two-thirds of what they state.
Also please note that when using such appliances you won’t be able to fill them up to the top with ingredients.
If you will cook meals in one for just 2 people then a small size one is fine. Look for a model that holds 3 to 4 liters.
But if you are using one to prepare meals for 4 or more people then select a model that claims to hold 6 liters or more is your best option.
What shape you go for depends on the kind of meals you intend to cook in yours.
If you only want to use it for making stews, curries or soups then I would recommend investing in one of the round models.
But if like me you intend to use it for roasting or baking then choose one of the oval-shaped slow cookers.
I frequently roast whole chickens and joints of pork in mine.
The oval-shaped models are a better option as you’ll find fitting a whole chicken into one a lot easier.
The main reason why most people buy the manual models is that they cost less.
But there are certain advantages to be gained from spending a little more on a slow cooker that is programmable.
The main advantage is that once the cooking time has elapsed they will automatically switch to another setting. They will switch over to a setting that will ensure that it keeps the food warm for a specific amount of time.
The one thing you really should have is a crockpot with a timer. Nowadays, only the most basic models won’t have this but you probably don’t want to be saving money here.
If you aren’t there to control the exact cooking time of your food, setting a timer is perfect.
It also lets you get the real joy out of a slow cooker. The aim is just to set and forget right?
You could save money when investing in such equipment by choosing a basic model without a timer.
Then spend a little more on a timer switch. This plugs into the mains supply and you then plug your crockpot into it.
All you then need to do is select the time when it will turn your appliance on.
It is important to remember to set the slow cooker to the low or high cooking setting.
If you don’t then it won’t turn on when the timer reaches the desired time.
If you haven’t invested in a slow cooker yet, it is a great addition to any kitchen.
Whilst, not the cheapest things, a good one will save time and make your life so much easier in so many ways.
Plus not forgetting it makes cooking delicious Paleo meals for the whole family a lot simpler.