Are to trying to eat healthily? If yes, then a slow cooker may be the most convenient appliance you can own. It is economical and user friendly. Today, we are going to discuss a few reasons in this article that will make you drag that overlooked device out of hiding or buy one.
Know Your Slow Cooker
Several slow cookers come with two or three settings. It takes six to ten hours for the food to be cooked on a low setting. If you want your food to be ready in four to six hours, then use the high settings of the slow cooker.
The preferred way is to cook food on the high setting of the slow cooker for the first four hours and then use it according to your need. One hour of cooking on high settings is equivalent to two hours on a low one.
Four hours on high setting is equivalent to one hour in the oven (at 350 °F), and eight hours on low. Likewise, three hours in oven is equal to 8 to 16 hours on low setting and 4 to 6 hours on high. Moreover, the size of slow cookers varies from one to seven quarts.
For the sizeable cuts of meats and soups, large slow cookers are ideal. Whereas, for sauces and dips, small slow cookers are preferable. If you are cooking for four or fewer people, then a slow cooker of 3.5 to 4 quarts is the best option. But if you have a big family or have to cook for five or more people, then larger slow cookers or 5 to 7 quarts are ideal.
How to Use a Slow Cooker
Always read the manual you get with your slow cooker. To use it easily, you need to get familiar with it.
Slow cookers do not require a lot of arrangements. Chop your vegetables and meat in smaller pieces and preheat the cooker. A few recipes need you to braise the meat in advance to give it a delightful color. But this part is not essential and depends on what you are cooking.
Place the root vegetables at the bottom of the slow cookers as they take longer to cook. After that, place the meat on the top, followed by liquid. The most commonly used liquids include broths, plain boiling water, sauces, wine, and stocks.
To avoid overcooking, make sure that your slow cooker is at least a third of the way full.
After putting all the ingredients in your slow cooker, set the timer and the temperature. The temperature should be set high for shorter cooking period and low for a longer. For more convenience, you can also purchase a slow cooker with a built-in timer as well.
You can reduce the heat and leave the food to poach as timings with slow cookers are not strict. It is handy when you are not ready to eat, feeding your kids, or waiting for your partner to come home.
The best thing about one-pot cooking is that it does require a little washing up. Select the slow cooker with a removable pot. Once you are finished cooking, remove the container and fill it up with soapy water. Leave it to soak and dry it well before putting away. Avoid putting cold water straight into your slow cooker as it may crack.
To read more about cleaning it, click here.
Benefits of Using a Slow Cooker
There are several benefits of using slow cookers than just heating Swedish meatballs for a holiday party. The following are the top five reasons why you should use slow cookers.
Have Healthy Food Ready When You Return Home
Coming home after a hectic day makes cooking a difficult task. But the power planning of a slow cooker can save your day. All you have to do is to assemble all the ingredients in the slow cooker and place it in the refrigerator before going to bed. In the morning, before leaving for work, turn on the slow cooker (on low setting) and return home to a flavorful, home-made meal.
It requires almost zero effort in your work-exhausted state. Several people use a slow cooker to prepare their breakfast as well.
The Easiest Way To Prepare Dried Beans
Legumes and beans are primarily consumed food in several regions. Not only dried beans are affordable and easy to store but also, they have a great texture and flavor. However, it takes some additional steps while working with beans. You have to soak them overnight and then boil them before using them with your recipe.
Put the beans in the slow cooker, add stock or water, and the ingredients mentioned in your recipe. Turn the slow cooker on and leave it for about 8 to 10 hours. Covering beans with water before going to bed is preferable.
In the morning, wash the beans and put them in the slow cooker. Add more water along with all the ingredients. Be cautious about one thing, if your recipe includes kidney beans, then go for canned ones. The other thing that you can do is, before adding them to a slow cooker, make sure to cook them properly.
If not cooked properly, the kidney beans can upset your stomach due to the high concentration of lectins. The slow cookers do not produce enough heat to do this.
Can Prepare a Variety of Foods
Back in time, when slow cookers first got going, they appeared to center around sticky casseroles made with taco pie, canned soup, overwhelming pot roasts topped with dumplings, and several other ingredients that did not appear exceptionally nutritious.
But with time, slow cookers have evolved a lot. You can prepare almost all your favorite delicious foods in it. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, with built-in temperature probes and timer and every type of whistles and bells.
The Healthiest Way to Cook Meats
It is true that the yummiest ways to cook meat, including flame broiling and grilling, are not very healthy. That flavorsome scorch exterior sadly comes with a cost. When you cook meat over direct heat or high flame, the warmth interacts with fat and protein in it and forms several harmful compounds. Foods made directly over the heat are the reason for having a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Eating grilled meat two to three times a month does not lead to high risks of health issues. But if you want to consume meat more than once a week, then a slow cooker can fulfill your cravings. The moist, slow heat of the cooker cooks meat without forming harmful compounds.
Slow cookers are ideal for preparing inexpensive cuts of meat as they turn them into fork-tender bites.
Does Not Heat the Kitchen
Since the slow cookers do not heat your kitchen as cooktop and oven do, it makes them ideal to use in summer. Even though they run for eight to ten hours, they are energy sufficient. In the preparation of the same dish, energy the slow cookers use is about a third of that used by the oven.
Safety and Tips for Slow Cooker
By following some safety rules and fundamental tips, you can make your experience of cooking food in a slow cooker a lot better.
- To clean up your slow cooker and take care of it before every use, spray the stoneware with nonstick cooking spray or polish the inside of it with oil. Slow cooker liners also facilitate the cleanup.
- Before cooking frozen meat and poultry in the slow cookers, always thaw them in the refrigerator. Do not put your frozen meat in the slow cooker to ensure complete cooking.
- Always place the vegetables first in the slow cooker and then meat and poultry. It is because vegetables cook slower. Put the meat on the top and top it with liquid like water, broth, or sauce.
- Do not fill your slow cooker more than two-thirds or less than half full. The quality, cooking time, and safety can be affected by cooking too little.
- Place on the liquid, such as barbecue sauce, broth, or water as per the recipe, since they do not boil away. While converting a non-slow cooker recipe for a slow one, you can lower the liquid by one-third to one-half.
- To prevent curdling, you can add cream, milk, and cheese in the last hour. And several vegetables like zucchini, tomatoes, and mushrooms can be added in the final forty-five minutes.
- Setting your slow cooker on high at the start and then turning the heat to a low setting to finish cooking is a highly preferred way.
- If you do not want your food to become mushy, add grains at the end of the cooking procedure. You can cook pasta or any other grain (such as rice) separately and put it before serving.
- During cooking, keep the lid of the cooker in place, since removing it can slow down the cooking time. About 15 to 20 minutes are lost every time the lid is lifted.