Advantages and Disadvantages of Slow Cooking And Slow Cookers
Slow cooking was quite popular in the 1970s. Today, with its revival, you have a choice of appliances including manual, programmable or digital, and portable. You also have the preference of pots with non-stick Teflon coating, stoneware or ceramic pots, the simplicity of liners, and a choice of lids. There are still advantages and disadvantages with this type of meal preparation, however, and with the various cookers.
One obvious advantage is time saving. Put your ingredients in a slow cooker in the morning, let it cook all day, and return home in the evening to a hot, ready-to-eat, one-pot meal. Another advantage is that slow cooking translates into healthy eating. High heat and temperatures do two things to food: break down their nutrients (antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals) and create unhealthy chemical compounds that have been related to diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and renal complications. Cooking on low heat or temperature allows food to maintain their nutrients and dangerous chemicals are not produced. Slow cooking also preserves the freshness and flavors of meals nicely. Your food does not overcook or burn. And lastly, you save money three ways: 1) Ingredients used to make the best slow cooker meals (stews, soups, rice, and casseroles) are usually inexpensive. 2) Meals can be stretched beyond a day. 3) You save money on gas or electricity because you are using one pot.
One of the biggest disadvantages is the condensation of steam on closed lids. The water drips back down into your meal all day, diluting your spices and flavors, and leaving you with bland food. If you are cooking hydrated vegetables such as tomatoes, it can get really soupy when you are not even making soup. Another concern is the overpowering flavor left by fresh spices such as thyme and cinnamon after they have been simmering for hours. It is best to use less than what the recipe calls for. Speaking of recipes, certain ones are not suited to slow cooking in a slow cooker. Recipes that require large cuts of meat for instance or any ingredient needing browning before cooking and recipes with a lot of different ingredients are usually not worth it.
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Before purchasing a slow cooker, consider the following questions: 1) Personal or particular needs. Will you be cooking for one or more? This will determine the size of pot you purchase. A three- to four-quart pot makes a meal for two people. 2) The size of your microwave in case you want to reheat leftovers without transferring it. You should also determine the size of your refrigerator for storage. 3) Frequency of use. Will you be using your appliance often? Then you want one that is sturdy, dependable, and reliable. 4) Will you be cooking meals in it for home consumption only or do you plan on transporting meals to pot lucks and holiday parties as well? 5) Would you prefer a removable pot or a single cooker and liners for easy cleaning? 6) How about a stoneware pot or one with non-stick Teflon coating? 7) What kind of lid best suits you: glass; hinged; a latch for safe and easy travel or a domed one for better heat entrapment? 8) Would you prefer to program the temperatures yourself or will simple settings of low and high do? 9) Do you want it to have a defrost feature? 10) Budget. What can you afford? Slow cookers range from $13.00 to $150.00.
The following disadvantages should also be considered. Stoneware pots may crack or break. They are also heavier to lift and clean. Non-stick Teflon may wear and flake over time, leaving you with a mixture of delicious food and possibly adverse chemicals. Note also, that some brands may be more temperature-sensitive than others and will cook your food faster. The more popular brands are Rival Crock-Pot, Hamilton Beach, Farberware, Cuisinart, West Bend, and Kitchen-Aid. Choose your slow cooker wisely.
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