Slow cookers are among the appliances we find in the traditional methods of cooking. They are also generally known as Crock-Pots. But did you know that both are actually not the same? A crock-pot is not the real name of the appliance but a brand name. However, it was the first brand of slow cookers that came to the market, therefore people generally give the same name to all such cookers.
Does this mean that crock pots were the first slow cookers? Yes and no! Let us go through their history.
It began in 1936 when an inventor, Irving Naxon, thought of bringing a solution to the most prevailing cooking problem then: uneven cooking. He worked on his grandmother’s idea of slow cooking. She used to cook a dish overnight named ‘Cholent Stew’ over the fading heat of an oven, in a local bakery. Cholent was also the name given to a special stew cooked overnight and eaten by Jews.
Naxon combined the factors of ‘low heat’ and ‘slow processes’ and developed the slow cooker. His unit consisted of a ceramic pot that was heated by electric coils.
Naxon got his appliance patented in 1940 and introduced it in the market during the 1950s under the name of ‘Naxon Beanery All-Purpose Cooker’. In 1970, his company Naxon Utilities Corp. got acquired by Hack Miller’s Rival Manufacturing Co. They re-introduced the product as Crock-Pot, by which we identify slow cookers today.
Slow Cooker Popularity Facts
Crock Pots enjoyed top sale until after 5 years, other companies started launching their own versions of slow cookers. This affected the sale of crock pots. Then with the increasing popularity of microwave ovens in the 1980s, a decrease in the overall sale of all slow cooker brands was recorded. But, over the past few years, slow cookers have captured the market again. More people are using slow cookers now. They either buy new ones or take their old ones out and use them.
Let us have a look at whether that is true or not. Here are some recent statistics to give you a hint.
Since 2008, a rise of 65% has been found in the number of people buying slow cooker units. A leading marketing research firm, NPD Group reported in 2009 that about 83% of American households owned a slow cooker that year. In 2011, the same percentage of families was found to own a slow cooker, according to a report published in Consumer Reports.
Sales of slow cookers on Amazon.co.uk are reported to have increased by 55% since 2011. Statistics of a survey carried out for household appliances show there has been an increase in the sale of slow cooker units in the United States from 10.5 million to 13.4 million, between 2011 and 2014.
Major Reasons of Popularity
Slow cookers became popular from the beginning. There are two major reasons for this:
- Time Efficient
They were a great attraction for women. At that time, women were entering the workforce at large. But along with work they also needed to prepare food for their families. Slow cookers served them the best. With it, women were able to just put in the ingredients in the pot, put it at low heat, leave for work and allow it to cook slowly throughout the day. When they returned home after 8 to 10 hours, they had their food ready.
- Energy Efficient
Slow cookers not only saved women from spending long hours of cooking, but also helped families cut their electricity bills. The initial slow cookers were energy efficient and utilized only as much electricity as required for an incandescent bulb. This was low when compared to the energy consumption of electric ovens, thus attracting even more customers.
What Benefits Do You Get?
Question arise that why, after so many years, have slow cookers emerged again and became highly demanding appliances by the customers? And why would you prefer it over your modern appliances? It is because of the many advantages that it offers over them.
Besides exhibiting energy and time efficiency which made them popular in the early days, slow cookers provide many other benefits. Some of them have been listed here.
- Saves Time
A working woman can save time by using slow cookers. But what if you are not a working woman? Doesn’t a slow cooker fulfill your needs? Well, it definitely does. Since it doesn’t require constant watching or stirring, you can leave the food in your slow cooker and complete other chores at home. Clean your house, tutor your kids, watch television, read newspaper or do whatever else you want, just don’t worry about the food!
- Protects Your Food From Burning
The low temperature protects your food from burning or scorching, even if left for longer time on heat.
- Tenders Meat Easily
By creating a slow and moist cooking environment, slow cookers easily break down the tough connective tissue of less tender meat. So, you don’t need to worry about the quality of meat now and can compromise on price too.
- Low Fat Foods
Since the food cooks in its own juices and moisture, it does not require oils and other fats in large quantities. This way, you can cut down on fat by cooking food in slow cookers.
- Safe Food
Slow cookers use the principle of steaming. This aids in killing most of the bacteria, which is not the case with other cooking appliances.
- Cooks Anything
Initially, people thought slow cookers can only be used to cook meaty dishes. But today, you can find recipes for all kinds of foods, ranging from meat to breakfast meals and even desserts to be cooked on slow cooker.
- No Overheating in Kitchen
Ovens usually cause overheating in the kitchen, making it difficult to stand for long hours while cooking food. The low temperature of slow cookers, will not cause overheating and allow you to stay in the kitchen peacefully.
Many dishes cooked on slow cookers do not require expensive ingredients. Also, slow cookers are usually large in size, enabling large quantities of food cooked at once. So, now with minimal ingredients, you can cook food that would last for many days without spending much money.
Some Noteworthy Features in Modern-day Slow Cookers
Since many new companies launched their versions of slow cookers, Crock pots had to come up with something new to sustain their position in the market. Over the years, new features have been added to the old crock pots and other brands of slow cookers. These make them more versatile and user-friendly than ever. Some such features include:
- Removable Inner Pot: Instead of one solid pot that could not be put under water due to its electronic system, now slow cookers have a removable inner pot. So, now, you can easily remove the inner pot for putting in ingredients, taking out your dish and most importantly for washing.
- Cleaning-Free Accessories: Disposable liners for slow cookers are also available. These are in the form of large plastic bags that can be removed and just thrown away after use. So, now you do not even need to clean your slow cooker regularly.
- Locking Mechanism: Locking mechanisms with rubber seals have also been introduced to make the cooker portable. Now, no need to take out your dish. You can just carry your cooker anywhere you want.
- Digital Controls: With digital and programmable cookers, you do not have to worry about setting the temperature. Just set a time and the cooker will automatically switch on, off and increase or decrease the temperature, whenever needed. Some cookers also come with built-in temperature probes.
- Versatility: Multi-function cookers have been modeled in such a way, that besides slow cooking, they can also be used for steaming, boiling, sautéing, and browning. So, now you can get the all in one kitchen appliance!
Slow cookers are among the oldest cooking appliances still being used till today’s age. By incorporating modern features, they have enabled more user-friendly and economical cooking. A variety of slow cookers are available on the market today. You just need to make the right choice. Above all, you can cook almost anything in this amazing cooker! All you need to do is search for the best recipes for slow cookers and try them at home now!