Taking it Slow Has Never Sounded So Good
The Slow Cooker is Back.
Born in the 1970s the crock-pot or slow cooker is a counter-top appliance that uses low temperatures over many hours, allowing for safe un-attended cooking. Meals prepared in this way are nutritious and delicious, as the natural juices, minerals and vitamins from vegetables and meats are retained. But it’s not just your taste buds that benefit from slowing things down, there are household savings and environmental benefits bubbling away too.
Reduced Energy Use
It might seem that an appliance left on for hours at a time could be damaging to your energy bill and the environment. But slow cookers operate at lower temperatures than other forms of cooking such as the conventional oven or stovetop, and therefore require less energy to operate. Slow cookers with an insulated lid are more energy efficient again, keeping the heat in and your bill down.
Reduced Water Use
Except for a cutting board and a few utensils, a slow cooker is a one-pot stop. With only one pot to clean, this means less water and detergents are needed, compared to cleaning a set of pots and pans.
The Cool Option
Slow cookers are generally associated with hot meals in wintertime. But they have benefits in warmer weather too. Unlike an oven, there is little heat generated or lost from a crock-pot, which means there's less heat in the kitchen and less need to cool your home.
What To Look for?
If you’re looking to a buy a slow cooker there are few things to keep in mind:
- How many people are you cooking for? There are small, medium and large slow-cookers are available.
- Is the lid insulated and well fitting? The lid is critical to keeping the heat in and energy use down.
- Is there a timer and keep warm setting? This allows you to leave the cooker unattended and it will automatically switch from cook to keep warm.
- Look for a slow cooker with a ceramic interior, which helps distribute heat evenly. Some have a cast iron pot that allows you brown meat in it and insert it straight into the cooker, making it a truly do-it-all appliance.
There are great slow cooker cookbooks available for all tastes and flavours including vegetarian, gluten free and Asian style. For a free downloadable cookbook (choose from winter, summer, soups or family favourites), visit the McCormick website whose great range of slow cooker bases, herbs and spices are stocked in supermarkets nationally.
For other ideas to save money and time in the kitchen, visit Love Food Hate Waste an initiative of the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water.