So, you have decided that you are (finally) going to invest in a slow cooker…
Good decision! I am confident that you’ll really enjoy the luxury of coming home to a hot, tasty, healthy meal after a long day at work.
If you been reading about crock pots, I am sure that you have seen that there are many options and a wide range of price point.
My recommendation is that you first decide what size crock pot you need and then come back here.
Have you decided what size?
Glad to have you back.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, the prices for all sizes of crock pots have a wide range.
For my purposes, I divide them into three groups:
- Budget models priced under $50
- Mid Range models priced between $50 and $100
- High End models that are priced above $100
It is important to remember that the basic technology for all slow cookers is pretty similar. There is a removable pot that sits in a heating unit. Ingredients are added, a tight fitting lid is placed on the pot and the heating unit is turned on.
This is going to be pretty much the same, no matter what model you purchase.
The price variation results from three main factors:
- Construction materials
- Sophistication of Temperature Controls
- Added Features
Let’s discuss these factors one at a time.
Slow Cooker Construction Materials
Slow cookers consist of two major components: the pot and the housing.
The pot materials vary from stoneware to ceramic to stainless steel sometimes combined with non-stick interiors.
Depending on the model, each of these options can vary according to weight and durability. This variation is often tied to price. This is something to look out for, especially if you are interested in a lower end model.
Slow Cooker Temperature Controls
As crock pots have gotten more popular and as small appliance electronics have advanced, crock pot controls have gotten more sophisticated, more versatile, and more expensive.
Generally, the budget priced models will have simpler, less sophisticated controls. These may even be simple knobs with the temperature choices. You turn it on the desired temperature, let it cook and then turn it off manually, when the cooking time is over.
Once you leave the simple manually operated knobs, you are entering the universe of electronic controls. These get more and more sophisticated and more and more pricey.
The basic electronic models can be set to start at a certain time and end at a specific time. Often, they will have a Keep Warm mode that they switch to after the cooking is complete. This is nice in that you can still come home to a warm, properly cooked meal, even if you get delayed at the office.
What these models don’t do is change cooking temperatures during the cooking process.
Moving on up in sophistication and price, additional functionality can be added depending on the model.
This is where you may have the option of starting with one cooking temperature and having the cooker switch to a different cooking temperature at a specific time or temperature.
When evaluating these options you will need to balance functionality vs price. If you are paying extra for a feature that you’ll never need, you might be wasting your money.
There are several models that come with temperature probes. If you are planning on cooking a lot of roasts, this may be an appealing feature. If you are a vegetarian, maybe not so appealing…
Slow Cooker Added Features
These run the gamut from serving spoons that clip on to the cooker to a crock pot base that can also be used as a griddle. Some of the myriad of options add true functionality, others may seem appealing but are really fairly useless in day to day operation.
Again, the key here is to carefully consider your needs.
If you know that you’ll be lugging a full crock pot to church dinners, look for features that make that easier. I have seen lids with gaskets that clip securely, insulated carrying bags, serving spoons that clip on to the cooker, and a variety of other options.
When you do consider a specific feature, take the time to evaluate it related you your cooking habits. There is an available crock pot that comes with three different pots, each a different size. if you know that you’ll never cook more than one slow cooker recipe at a time, this could be an excellent choice. However, if you want the freedom to cook several dishes at once, this may not be a good option for you since you have only one heating base.
Slow Cooker Product Quality
Let me finish with a few words about product quality.
As I have been researching these handy little gadgets and reading scores of consumer reviews, I have noticed something interesting.
No matter the brand, no matter the price, and no matter the number of positive reviews, there will always be someone who ended up with a dud.
The conclusion that I have reached is that if the majority of reviews are positive and you want that model, go ahead and purchase. Then while it is under warranty – when you first own it – try to give it as rigorous a workout as possible.
If you run into problems, don’t hesitate to return it as per the warranty. For some reason it seems as though some of these cookers are lemons, no matter the price or brand. If you get one, replace it and move on.
For the most part, these small appliances can make cooking, and eating, so much more enjoyable, convenient, and healthy, even in these hectic days.
Click HERE [http://slowcookerheadquarters.com] for more information about available crock pots and slow cookers, at different prices.
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