Slow cookers, our parents loved these, we all likely have one in our kitchen cupboards (you know, that machine riiiiight at the back?). Developed in the 1950s, slow cookers had their hey day in the 60s and 70s, and much like fondue, became kitsch as we moved into the 90s and 2000s.
My opinion is this, there are certain things that should NEVER go out of fashion, and the slow cooker is one of them. Slow cookers were born out of a style of slow cooking that used ovens throughout the night to cook meals, to avoid preparing foods on the Sabbath day (Sunday), modern technology brought this style of cooking to the mainstream. Maybe you could use one to take the sweat out of cooking?
These amazing tools are the set and forget of the cooking world, allowing you to make dinner at breakfast time (or when you have time), then press some buttons and hey presto! dinner is ready without breaking a sweat! They are perfect for stews, broths, soups and even breakfast! Slow cookers work at just under 100°C, slowing down the cooking process, locking in steam and releasing flavours and hard to access nutrients in some foods. Due to the low temperature cooking process, slow cookers can generally be left safely cooking unattended throughout the night and day (note: for safety you should ensure there is ample liquid in the crock to ensure the meal does not dry out).
With the cool weather definitely upon us in the Southern Hemisphere, I encourage you all to give the slow cooker a go and enjoy the massive benefits from this style of cooking. Read on to hear about the benefits of slow cooking, and watch this weekend's newsletter for some slow cooking recipe ideas for you to try!
Nutrition & Flavour
Slow cooking uses low heat, which allows the cooking process to be extended and less intensive on the foods being cooked. This process can unlock and retain nutrients in ingredients that would otherwise be destroyed by the high heat of the frying pan or oven. During the cooking process, nutrients may leach out, but these are then held in the broth (the liquid component of slow cooked meals), closing the loop and creating a flavour like no other style of cooking!
Certain vegetables are built for slow cooking, and are essential to add to any slow cooked meal – root vegetables (carrots, turnips, potato, sweet potato), the brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale etc.), tomatoes and squashes (pumpkins, zucchini and button squash).
Incorporating healthy fats into the slow cooked meal allows the fats and oils to bind to nutrients and be more readily absorbed by the body.
Slow cookers are the perfect kitchen hack, not only do you not have to sit there stirring or keeping an eye on the boiling pot, slow cooker meals are quick and easy to make with maximum flavour! Don't be fooled by the name, by cooking slow, you can be faster.
With a little organisation, you can quickly make tonight's dinner this morning, or tomorrow morning's breakfast tonight! With 10 minutes of prepping ingredients, a stew can be ready to cook throughout the day/night ready for serving in 10 hours.
Not only that, you can make a big batch and freeze some for an easy meal later in the month.
What can you make in a slow cooker? The list is endless, they fall into six categories:
Broths – Liquidy soups, these are the chicken soup for the belly, perfect for a light asian-inspired style broth. You can use the slow cooker to make your own stock too, allowing you to have home made stock on hand whenever you need it to add supreme flavour to your meals.
Soups – Thicker broths, these are the perfect hearty meal in a bowl, think pumpkin soup, minestrone or tomato soup.
Stews – The thickest of them all, stews are perfect with a serving of rice or mashed veges. These are the traditional one-pot-wonders of the slow cook world, chuck a few bits and pieces in with some spices and away you go!
Porridges – Porridge you say? Yes, you can have those lovely oats slow cooking in some warming spices with fruit, ready for when you rise in the morning. Mum or Dad will be the wonder cook when the kids roll out of bed to the most amazing porridge in the their life!
Lasagnes – Layer up that slow cooker, make a lasagne that will have you quit using the oven.
Quiches – Perfect for the weekend breakfast – slow cooked quiches or omelettes are quick and easy and allow flavours to infuse throughout the dish.