Technology has made our lives in the kitchen a whole lot easier. With smart kitchen appliances, we can minimize our cooking time in half. One of those amazing gadgets is the slow cooker, a staple in most modern kitchens. An efficient slow cooking device lets you add many simple-to-cook meals to your menu that you haven’t tried yet.
You’d be surprised at how many delicious meals and cooker recipes you’re missing out on simply because you don’t own one. However, there’s a lot you need to know about it before you bring one home. It includes the energy usage, electricity costs, cooking process, slow cooker uses, temperature settings, and whether they’re energy-efficient. Read this complete guide to know everything about them and how to pick the right one for your kitchen and then check our article on how to clean a slow cooker insert.
Table of Contents
What’s a slow cooker?
A slow cooker is an appliance that works on a low setting of heat to thoroughly cook the food. It is ideal for cooking meats and stews that need to simmer for a long time. This electrical device has now become a must-have in most modern kitchens. It is practical for people who prefer cooking easy, one-pot meals for their family.
Varieties of slow cookers
With the increasing demand for slow cookers, several varieties have emerged. You can differentiate them on these grounds:
The most prominent thing that sets these cookers apart is the size. Slow cookers are available in four sizes that you can get depending on the size of your family.
- Small: They are smaller than 3 quarts and are ideal for making dips and other small snacks.
- Medium: These cookers range between 3-4 quarts and are perfect for feeding a small family of 3 to 4 people.
- Large: These cookers are between 5-6 quarts and are good enough for a family of 6 while still saving you some leftovers.
- X-Large: These slow cookers range between 7-10 quarts and are used for bigger families, parties, or small businesses.
Another factor that differentiates between the cookers is the material used for their pots. There are three main materials used to make the cooking pots:
- Cast Aluminium: They are oven and hob friendly but are not suitable for the microwave. The only drawback is that they are a bit on the pricier side. However, if the hob is your style, then this hob friendly material will definitely help.
- Ceramic: They are compatible with both microwave and oven. However, you can’t use them on a stovetop or any direct flame.
- Metal: They are used for slow-cooking meats and stews. However, the heating element of a metal cooker is set at the base only, which does not provide even heat distribution.
The last factor is technology, one of the main factors that can help you distinguish between different kinds of cookers. There are two types of controls available in slow cookers:
- Manual: They have a pretty basic control system. For example, they have heat settings that you can select to maintain the desired temperature. Unfortunately, though, they come without a timer which means you need to keep an eye on the status of your food.
- Programmable: They have an advanced control panel. They come with a digital timer and electronic controls that allow you to precisely select the desired temperature settings. Some of these models switch to the “Keep Warm” mode automatically once the cooking is done.
How much energy slow cookers use?
Since slow cookers require more time for cooking, it is easier to assume they use more energy. In this case, energy savings seem near to impossible, leading to higher electricity bills. However, slow cookers are one of the most energy-saving appliances that you can have in your kitchen. Let us tell you how!
An average slow cooker works on a 120 volts outlet at 0.6 amp on low and 2 amp on high settings. If we calculate further, it takes 1.44 kWh of electricity to run a slow cooker on low for 8 hours. It roughly is the same amount as using a light bulb for a whole day. It is one of the lowest energy consumption recorded for an electric appliance running for such a long period. Multiply the kWh of electricity with the amount per unit in your area, and you’ll have the amount it will cost you to run a cooker for 8 hours.
Oven or slow cookers? Which is more energy efficient?
Now, if you have an oven at home, the question arises, “Why should I invest in a slow cooker?”. First, let’s understand the difference between ovens and slow cookers.
Difference between conventional oven, electric oven, And slow cooker
You can easily use all three of these cooking appliances to slow cook food. The only difference between them is the energy consumption of each appliance. A conventional oven uses gas to cook food, while a slow cooker and electric oven use electricity to prepare food.
While a slow cooker uses 1.44 kilowatts of electricity, an electric oven uses around 2.4 kilowatts of electricity per hour. This stark difference has made users lean towards slow cookers to make hassle-free meals for their families.
Which One Is More Energy Efficient?
So, are they energy-saving? The answer is YES! Not only are they energy-efficient, but they are also quite affordable. According to an NPD report, the consumer’s desire for freshly cooked meals is not ending any time soon. Slow cookers have facilitated this desire for fresh meals among customers because of their hassle-free and inexpensive cooking technology.
Benefits of using a slow cooker & slow cooking
Besides using a lesser amount of energy, there are several more benefits of using a slow cooker. Here is why you need to get one:
1. Preservation of nutrients
A slow cooker allows the ingredients to simmer on low heat for a long period, allowing the nutrients to get reabsorbed in the food. In contrast, a pressure cooker uses high temperatures to instantly cook the food, destroying most nutrients. It promotes healthy cooking with the least effort possible.
2. Rich in flavour
More flavour and aroma comes out when a dish is simmered on low heat. It brings out the true flavours of meat, vegetables, and spices while keeping your meals deliciously moist. It also perfectly tenderizes cheaper cuts of meats that are rather difficult to cook.
3. Prevents the addition of toxins
Slow cooking also prevents your food from being exposed to AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products). AGEs are released when the food comes in contact with direct flames or very high-temperature settings. So, if you want to switch to a healthier lifestyle, get your hands on a slow cooker!
4. Food stays warm
Most slow cookers have a “Keep warm” setting to keep your food from getting cold while serving. However, we would not recommend using this option for more than 3-4 hours at once.
With a list of benefits that comes with using a slow cooker, there is no reason to not invest in such an appliance.
A slow cooker that is good in energy efficiency is the ideal addition to your kitchen. So now that you’ve read our complete guide, get your hands on a high-quality slow cooking appliance. Read all about their power consumption, electricity costs, and energy efficiency to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth. Plus, it helps you introduce new cooking methods and delicious one-pot meals that use less energy.