What You Need is a Slow Cooker!
With autumn just around the corner what you need is a slow cooker!
It may seem like cold weather is months away but in reality the days are growing shorter and the summer is winding down. With those changes chilly autumn days can't be too far away.
One of the most helpful kitchen appliances
Assessing Your Slow Cooker Needs
Different families have different needs. A large family will need a seven or eight quart capacity while a single person may only need one or two. Ask yourself the following questions to help you figure out which slow cooker is best for you.
What size slow cooker do I need?
- Single- 1 1/2 quart
- Couple-2 to 3 1/2 quart
- Small family of three or four -3 1/2 to 4 1/2 quart
- Family of four to five -5 quart
- Families of six or more -6 quart or more
How Much Supervision Must I Give It?
If you work outside the home and you want to start off on a higher setting and then move it to a lower setting you need a slow cooker with programmable timers and settings. If you are home all day and can do this manually then it may be worth saving the money and getting a more basic model.
How Much Can I Afford?
Very inexpensive slow cookers often end up being a bad investment. It is important to know what you can afford and then get the best that you can. The slow cooker can be expected to last you a minimum of five years but I am still using one that my parents bought in 1968. We don't use it for everything but it is still going strong!
Is It Easy to Clean?
Parts should be dishwasher safe, removable and otherwise easy to keep clean.
The Best Rated Slow Cooker:All Clad
The best rater slow cooker overall was the All Clad. It is fully programmable with a twenty six hour timer and three temperature settings, including warm.
It is a beautiful appliance with stainless steel exterior, black interior liner and a glass cover. It is also safe to wash in the dishwasher and the ceramic liner is removable for cleaning.
The All-Clad has a glass cover so that you can check the progress of you meal. This is a huge benefit since the cooker will lose heat when the lid is removed. No need to remove this lid until you are ready to serve dinner!
The All-Clad slow cooker comes only in a 6 1/2 quart size. It lists for $195.00 but is $149.00 on Amazon.
All Clad Slow Cooker
KitchenAid Slow Cooker
Not surprisingly KitchenAid rated very high. The complaints seem to be that the ceramic liners have a tendency to crack, which may or may not be operator error. The only other complaint that I read was that the gasket was hard to clean and the top did not fit properly.
The KitchenAid is also programmable. After the cooking program has ended it can be set to switch to a warming feature that will keep your meal waiting for you for several hours.
The interior has markings on it that mark the quart measures so measuring is easy. This slow cooker is one of the largest on the market, a full seven quarts. The cord stores within the housing when not in use.
The KitchenAid slow cooker is $129.95
Rival 4 quart Crock-Pot
Rival, who holds the copyright to the name crock-pot, does not generally get good reviews for their slow cookers however this seems to be the exception. This four quart slow cooker got consistently better reviews than the Cuisinart.
It is not programmable and most reviewers felt that it cooked too hot on the high temperature.
It has a nonstick type interior and is dishwasher safe. The Rival sells for $41.06 on Amazon.
Cuisineart 4 Quart
The Cuisineart has a four quart capacity with a timer that can be set for up to eight hours. It can then be shifted to the warm setting. The cord is retractable for sleek style and easy cleaning.
This slow cooker looks like a commercial cooker. The insert is removable and dishwasher safe. It comes with a cooking rack and looks to be a sturdy appliance. While the other cookers come with a one year warranty the Cuisinart comes with a limited three year warranty. Very impressive.
The suggested retail price on it is 145.00 but Amazon has it for 79.99.
Smaller Slow Cookers
Rival is the main company that does a smaller slow cooker but they have a tendency to cook too hot in my opinion.
I would suggest that if the 4 1/2 quart size is too big for you that you choose to cook enough for several meals and utilize your freezer. However, if you feel you want a smaller slow cooker then the best one is Proctor SIlex's 1 1/2 quart slow cooker.
It has three heat settings, where most small cookers have one or two. The cord is extra long, and it has a glass cover. $19.95 on Amazon.
Slow cookers make it easier to get dinner on the table on those busy days and even on the not so busy days. While most people do think of them as being an autumn appliance they are perfect for summer cooking because they don't heat up the kitchen and they use much less energy than the oven.
Getting in the habit of using a slow cooker can free up alot of your time and save money one the energy bills. A good one is a worthwhile investment.