Slow cookers, or crock pots as they were called back in the day, have been enjoying a comeback over the last few years with sales up by a whole 55% at John Lewis alone.
So what’s all the fuss about? Will a slow cooker change your life, or will it just end up at the back of the cupboard next to the juicer? We weigh up the benefits…
Reasons to own a slow cooker
• Tougher cheap cuts of meat become tender after long, slow cooking so you can save money on the food you buy
• If you want to come home to a hot meal, you can set the cooker before you leave the house and let it work away safely all day
• Recipes such as casseroles, stews and braises are great in slow cookers, as the gentle cooking allows flavours to develop
• The length of cooking time is flexible
• You can prepare food well in advance and forget about it all day long
• Slow cookers are an easy way to use up leftovers
• There’s no need for pre-cooking
• There’s a great variety of recipes for one-pot meals
• Slow cookers can be even be used for hot cereals, puddings and cakes
• Despite needing to be switched on for hours at a time, slow cookers are energy efficient
Consumer price comparison website uSwitch says slow cookers use just a little more energy than a traditional light bulb, but the microwave is the most energy-efficient way to cook food. Microwaves may be the cheapest to run but a stew needs to, well, stew.
Slow cookers use a heat source roughly equivalent to two bright light bulbs at 200-250 watts running for three to 12 hours. This makes a slow cooker massively energy efficient compared to an oven, which uses about 700 watts.
Money saving website goodtoknow.co.uk agrees the oven is the most expensive cooking appliance to use. Using it for an hour each day will cost £2.46 a week, or £127.92 over a year. The Centre for Sustainable Energy meanwhile estimates that the average electricity usage of an electric oven is between 2-2.2kWh, while a microwave uses between 0.6-1.5kWh and a slow cooker uses approximately 0.7kWh over eight hours.
You can spend even less money on gas and electricity by switching to a fixed energy tariff.
Getting the most out of your slow cooker
• No liquid escapes from a slow cooker, so you should reduce any added liquid by one-third if following a recipe not written specifically for a slow cooker
• Don’t remove the lid too often to avoid heat loss
• The inner pot needs to be at room temperature before you start cooking, so wait for it to warm up if you’ve kept it in the fridge
• All slow cookers are different, so follow your manufacturer’s manual for guidelines on temperatures and cooking times
Slow Cooker Recipes
If you’ve converted to the slow cooker way, try out some of these tasty recipes:
Do you swear by your slow cooker? We’d love to hear your recipe ideas. Share them with us in the comments below.
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