Why you need a slow cooker

Cecil Whig - - & & -

It’s sim­ple. It cooks slowly — re­ally slowly. You can just throw the in­gre­di­ents in, set the timer and walk away. A slow cooker re­quires very lit­tle en­ergy. On av­er­age it costs 21 cents to run a slow cooker for 10 hours. If you cook a pork roast in the oven 2 hours it costs $2.51 for an elec­tric oven and $1.49 for a gas oven. A slow cooker doesn’t heat up the kitchen the way a stove­top or oven can. This time of year when tem­per­a­tures are soar­ing right along with the cost of air con­di­tion­ing, that’s a big deal.

Slow cook­ers are pretty ba­sic. Some have pro­gram­mable timers, but they gen­er­ally have “On” and “Off” but­tons and a dial to tell the thing how many hours to cook.

What you’ll want to pay most at­ten­tion to when se­lect­ing a slow cooker is the size. For peak per­for­mance it should only be about three­quar­ters of the way full while cook­ing.

Here are the three best in­ex­pen­sive slow cook­ers on the mar­ket today, plus a fourth that is not that in­ex­pen­sive, but has all the bells and whis­tles.

Proc­tor Silex 33015YA 1-1/2-Quart Round Slow Cooker. This small slow cooker, suit­able for two or three peo­ple, has reg­u­lar tem­per­a­ture set­tings — high, low and warm. The re­mov­able crock and glass lid go in the dish­washer. It costs about $18.

Crock-Pot SCV401TR 4-Quart Oval Man­ual Slow Cooker. This beau­ti­ful red slow cooker is your ba­sic work­horse. It has high, low and warm set­tings, and the re­mov­able stoneware and lid are both dish­washer-safe. It’s per­fect for four or more. It han­dles a 4-pound roast well. This one costs about $25.

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