Slow Cookers Buying Guide
So you don't have the time to cook a gourmet meal , but you can't stand the taste of microwave dinners. Never fear; there's a solution to your hunger woes. With slow cookers, all you have to do is add the ingredients, pump up the heat and hit the ground running. By the time you get home from work, your entrée is ready and waiting. Slow cookers are perfect for preparing a variety of meals, from casserole-style dishes to stews, soups, breads and desserts. Some models are even equipped with larger, oval-shaped cooking chambers to accommodate whole chickens, racks of ribs and entire roasts. But before you start drooling all over yourself, learn what to look for to make sure your new appliance is a quality investment.
When selecting a slow cooker, you need to look for a few key features:
- A removable stoneware liner . This feature allows you to prepare the ingredients the night before and refrigerate them, as well as use the removable crock for serving at the dinner table. A removable liner can also be used in conjunction with disposable liner products to make cleaning easier.
- An insulated carrying case . If you plan on taking your cooker to serve food at your friends' and relatives' homes, an insulated carrying case will keep the food warm and ready to serve.
- An oval cooking chamber . Unlike round chambers, oval ones can accommodate much larger items for longer. This means that your food will cook more evenly and you won't have to cut it to fit.
- An adequately-sized cooking chamber. You want to make sure that the unit is large enough to suit your cooking needs, but not so large that it would be impractical for your everyday life. Since slow cookers perform at their best when they are nearly full, trying to cook smaller meals in a unit that is too large may result in undercooking.
Quality slow cookers often have a metal exterior, with a thick liner and a glass lid.
- More expensive slow cookers are made of stainless steel , but beware of intense heat. Several manufacturers have added a layer of plastic to the outer shell to minimize the amount of heat radiation and in turn, prevent accidental injury.
- Many units also have stay-cool side handles that allow you to lift the unit safely and easily.
- These appliances are available in assortment of designs and colours to complement your kitchen décor.
Slow cooker designs are continuing to evolve, offering you considerably more bang for your buck.
- Delayed start time.
- Automatic shut-off.
- Keep warm setting.
- Digital display screens for custom cooking.
- Temperature gauge for checking cooking progress.
- Mid-cook temperature change option.