Have you ever wondered how you can toss ingredients into a pot, set it, forget it, and return home to a meal ready to eat? The answer is simple – you can use a slow cooker. Slow cookers have become a popular kitchen appliance and are favourable in the colder months. As marvellous as they are, you may be wondering, how do slow cookers work?
The basics of slow cooking
Slow cooking is a technique that has been used for centuries. It is the method of cooking using low, steady heat over a longer period. This stands out from other cooking methods which use higher heats to achieve a quicker cooking time. The uniqueness of this method also means a variety of dishes can be cooked, from stews and casseroles to tasty desserts.
The cooking science
Successful slow cooking centres on consistent temperatures. The gentle heat works wonders with most ingredients. It helps to break down the collagen found in meats, making it tender during the cooking process. It also helps flavours to mingle within the pot which makes dishes really stand out.
How the slow cooker works
So, how exactly does the slow cooker achieve its amazing cooking technique and tasty results? It comes down to the 4 main parts; the crock/pot, the heating element, the lid, and the control panel.
- The crock/pot: This is the main pot the food sits in. It works by evenly distributing the heat inside and retaining during the cooking process. This aids in even and thorough cooking.
- The heating element: This is the internal part beneath the pot which generates the heat to cook. This element will usually provide a low, but consistent temperature. This perfects the slow cooking process.
- The lid: As simple as it is, the lid does play a part. It helps to retain moisture and heat. This helps to retain the heat and keep the cooking consistent.
- The Control Panel/Dial: Slow cookers will come with a control panel or dial so that you can adjust the temperature settings. Generally, these settings will be basic and range from ‘Low’ to ‘High’. This setting can be picked to match the recipe being used.
Using a slow cooker is easy
To actually cook in a slow cooker, the process is really quite simple. Of course, always refer to any recipes first, but the basic steps are as follows:
- Prepare the ingredients: This means cutting ingredients up, searing if applicable, and placing them into the crock. Layer them up to match the instructions in your recipe.
- Select the cooking setting: Choose the cooking setting for your recipe. You may choose low for a lower heat and longer time, or high for a slightly higher heat, and shorter cooking time.
- Leave to cook: Once it’s in and on the setting, you can leave it to cook. You can leave it to simmer and cook by itself. You can check up when needed to see the progress, and once cooked simply turn off and serve.
You can read our common questions on slow cookers here.
Benefits of using a slow cooker
The main benefits of using slow cookers are that they are incredibly convenient and time-saving. You can carry on with your day knowing the slow cooker is sorting the food for you. It can also enhance the flavour of your meals as the pot retains any juices whilst it simmers. This makes them a great choice if you want a delicious meal without spending hours preparing.
Slow cookers are marvels in the kitchen. By understanding how they work, you may be keen to try one and see what meals you can create.
You can view all our slow cookers here.