Crock Pots or Slow Cookers as they are more properly known are a relative newcomer to the kitchen appliance scene. First popularized in the 1970’s, they are now in a great many homes.
While the slow cooker is fairly new, slow cooking as a cooking method is ancient. Humans have been using the technique for centuries. Native Americans, and Polynesians are just two of the early groups to use this cooking method. Both groups used leaves to keep moisture in as meat was slowly cooked to flavorful perfection over a period of many hours. One method was to keep a fire burning over stones in the bottom of a pit that was dug for this purpose, and when the fire was finally allowed to die out, the meat wrapped within leaves was placed upon the stones and buried. Many hours later the meat was dug up and enjoyed.
One of the advantages of slow cooking is that cheaper cuts of meat work well. In fact, they are preferred as expensive high fat cuts lose their flavor. But the cheaper cuts have more connective tissue which breaks down over many hours and adds flavor. The long cooking time also tenderizes cuts which are normally thought of as being too tough to really enjoy.
One thing that crock pots do not do well is preserve the nutritional value of vegetables. The vitamins and other nutrients break down and leach out over the long hours of cooking. Since vegetables don’t require a long cooling time, it is best to add them in at the end when slow cooking a meal. This will keep the most nutritional value.
A word of caution is in order. Even though slow cookers don’t use high temperatures (generally at or just below 200 degrees) they can still be dangerous to a child. Make sure when you are using one to be sure that children have no way to get at it. They could be badly scalded if it were to spill on them.
Take advantage of being able to cook while you are away at work at get a Crock Pot today. You’ll be grateful for the tremendous convenience.