Last year’s Big UK Houzz Report uncovered all sorts of takeaways about our home design preferences in the UK. Who knew for instance, that feature walls were most popular in Birmingham with more than one in three people having one in their home, or that Mancunians own the most Jacuzzis? Londoners love a good BBQ with 58% owning one themselves and the slow cooker is the UK’s favourite kitchen gadget – not quite the old-fashioned appliance after all!
On the back of the findings, we thought we’d do a little digging of our own and find out just why we love a slow cooker above all else.
Image source: Chelsea’s Messy Apron
First introduced in the 1970s by Rival, the slow cooker is a self-contained electric cooking pot which simmers meals on a low heat for hours on end. Once the must-have pot for the traditional housewife, 2009 saw the cooker rise in popularity and it has had a fairly constant presence ever since.
But why? Well, it’s no coincidence that it made its comeback off the back of the 2008 recession, leading to the highest unemployment level since 1994 in August 2011 of 8.1% (2.57 million people). When money’s tight, we all look at what we’re spending our money on to try and find new ways to save money wherever we can. Slow cookers use the same amount of energy as a lightbulb and you can add in all sorts of vegetables and spices, so there’s no sacrificing a healthy diet.
Money aside though, what else is giving them added brownie points? Being able to get in from work and have your meal waiting for you seems to be the main advantage. They’re perfect for cooking hearty winter meals like stews, where all you have to do is cook your accompaniment and you’re good to go.
Sceptics say that it does mean having to prepare your meals before work each day. Not only that, any herbs lose their flavour easily by the time the meals are cooked and you have to add all the ingredients in in one go. The loss of flavour is actually one of the reasons they’ve been dubbed old-fashioned and not great at all by professional chefs.
All this got me thinking. Could it be that actually we’re buying slow cookers and adding to the promising stats but not using them past an initial honeymoon phase…?
Time will tell but as they’re so cost-effective, perhaps it’s time that we persevered to reap their economic benefit. Below are our four main tips to using your slow cooker effectively and getting the most from it.
Top cooking tips
- Don’t use your slow cooker for reheating; the cooker only gradually reaches cooking temperature so bacteria will be able to grow.
- Slow cooking doesn’t lose as much moisture as cooking in the oven so don’t add extra liquid thinking that you’ll need it because it’s cooking for longer.
- Cut down on your washing up time by spraying the inside of the pot with non-stick cooking spray before you start cooking.
- Add in extra spices or herbs when you’re coming towards the end of your cooking time to improve the flavour.