Slow cookers are electrical cooking gadgets that keep a low temperature for long hours for unsupervised slow cooking. Slow cookers are also called crock pots. They are commonly placed on countertops. It is used to cook food requiring low heat and long cooking time.
A slow cooker is usually made of porcelain or ceramic enclosed in metal housing with heating element controlled by a thermostat. The pot cover is commonly transparent glass to see what's cooking inside. For more details www.cooking-groundbeef.com .The pot both serves as a container of the food to be cooked and also a source of heat. They come in many sizes, from ˝ liter to 7 liters.
A common slow cooker operates at maximum heat of 190 to 200oF. The temperature while it cooks is below 212oF or 100oC, approximately 160oF on low temperature setting. A steady heat from 175 to 200oF is retained by the heating element.
As a general guide, a low setting is used for cheap cuts of mutton, venison, beef, lamb and other red meat. It softens the connective tissues and takes 10 to 12 hours.
Medium setting is used for red meats. High setting is more for pale meat like chicken. This setting cooks faster for about three to four hours with temperature a little higher than that of medium setting.
Auto cook makes food taste better than those cooked with temperature setting of low or medium according to some actual tests. The automatic cook setting initially cooks on high temperature then shifts to low and maintain that temperature continuously. Some slow cookers do not have this setting.
The keep-warm is sometimes referred to as hold setting. It prevents the food from getting cold while keeping its flavor and preventing it from drying out. For more details www.cat-head-biscuit.com .The slow cooker automatically shifts to keep-warm when the cooking time is reached. It is useful when the crock pot is going to be unattended longer than the required cooking time.
The indicator light is a useful visual aid to know that the slow cooker is on and working.
Check the power cord if it has enough length to reach the power source. Using extension cord is dangerous because liquids might be spilt into it and possibly causes a fire. It is a good idea to purchase a crock pot with a removable liner for the simple reason that it is much easier to clean.
Cheaper cuts of meat when cooked for a short period can be difficult to chew because of its connective tissue and muscles. But then long boiling can dissolve the connective tissue making them dry and hard. Slow cooker's long and slow cooking will make the tissue soft and the muscle easy to chew.
There are some disadvantages in slow cooking. Sometimes through the process the food loses significant nutrients and vitamins. Enzymes are quickly denaturized when heated at high temperature, giving them less time to act throughout the cooking time.
Vegetables also have a tendency to lose nutrients when its enzymes are not denatured rapidly, as slow cookers cook at heat considerably below the boiling point. Vitamins are retained well when vegetables are quickly cooked because its cells do not potentially lose acids.
Some beans contains toxin that can be eliminated by continually boiling for 10 minutes or longer. It is recommended to boil raw beans before cooking in slow cookers to prevent food poisoning.
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