As our kitchens become full of new gadgets and gizmos that do weird and wonderful tasks, it becomes confusing about what type of gadget actually does what, and how many uses different cookers actually have.
Here we will attempt to answer those questions and reveal the similarities and differences between the different types of cooking gadgets we might find in our kitchen.
People are moving further and further towards convenience in their daily lives, and the kitchen is a prime example of this.
We want to cook great meals, but we want them cooked properly, quickly, and with a minimum of hassle and mess.
So, will a rice cooker be suitable for cooking a small roast? How about a slow cooker getting the rice ready for a meal instead of waiting for a pot of water to boil and then trying to cook rice without it sticking to the bottom of the pot? What are the multiple things that a multi-cooker will cook?
Slow cookers cook a wide variety of foods at a slower rate. In contrast, pressure cookers use compressed heat and steam for cooking multiple dishes faster than traditional cooking methods. Rice cookers are primarily used for making rice with minimal oversight. Multicookers use many diverse cooking methods to make a wide variety of dishes.
Rice Cookers Explained
Rice cookers excel at cooking large quantities of rice at once, that is the basis of their design, so this doesn’t come as a shock; in fact, many people who own a rice cooker will swear by it and highly recommend them to others because of its simplicity. Add your rice, measure out the correct amount of water, and let the gadget do what it does best.
Rice cookers work by boiling water within the unit, which the rice then absorbs as it cooks and becomes fluffy and tender.
Using an automated process of heating and maintaining this heat allows for perfectly cooked rice every time, without any extra mess or the hassle of constantly checking the rice and ensuring the water doesn’t overboil and burn the rice to the bottom of the pot.
The primary role a rice cooker plays has little to no mystery around it, but this little cooker can do a few surprising things.
Cooking Other Grains
Yes, this might not surprise you when you think about it. A rice cooker specializes in cooking grains, so the ability to cook other grains like barley, quinoa, and oats is understandable, sometimes by just adjusting the water or the cooking time.
Cooking Tender Ribs
Cooking ribs in your rice cooker is one of the more surprising things that your rice cooker is capable of cooking.
Operating at a low and consistent temperature is actually perfect for some great “low and slow” ribs, with lots of different recipes available online, this is maybe something that rice cooker owners aren’t even aware of themselves, but should definitely be looked into as rice cooker ribs are so succulent and tasty with the meat falling right off the bone.
The enclosed environment where a high level of humidity is controlled with an amount of water being kept at a constant temperature is great for poaching fruit like peaches and pears.
Added benefits are that you can put your fruit in here with various spices and flavorings and leave the rice cooker to do its thing while you do other things.
Cooking Rice pudding
This might be considered obvious, but it is also great to know that you can do it. Many people love dessert but find it overly complicated or messy.
This means that people only make it when they’re really in the mood too; however, the rice cooker handles this task very well, and once the ingredients are mixed in and added to the rice cooker, you can go and do other things while it cooks.
While it isn’t technically baking cakes, it will definitely steam sponge puddings and similar desserts. A brief search online will reveal a whole world of recipes that you maybe never knew about.
The true convenience of these things is remarkable when you do a little investigation.
The basic facility they provide is a sealed chamber where water is heated to boiling, and the temperature is maintained for a set period of time, which is perfectly suited to so many recipes.
Pressure Cookers Explained
Pressure cookers work on the principle of pressure, no surprise as the name gives that away. But what is that pressure? Steam pressure!
A sealed unit, which has a valve to regulate the pressure, heats up water into steam, and continually heats this water to increase the pressure.
The steam as it heats expands and increases the pressure in the pot. This does two things, firstly the pressure cooker increases the boiling point of water and therefore cooking temperature by around 40F.
Secondly, the increase of pressure forces this steam and heat into the only place left to go into the food.
This sealed pot helps food cook much quicker than standard ovens by forcing heated steam, containing all the flavor of the seasonings, directly into the meal you’re cooking, creating tender, succulent meals bursting with flavor.
What Can You Cook in a Pressure Cooker?
The easy answer to this is pretty much anything you can imagine.
Your pressure cooker will cook, of course, it does come with a few adjustments as food is cooked in an entirely different way to what you are used to.
This new way of cooking comes with completely different timings and ways of preparing meals.
Quickly browsing the internet will reveal a list of possible meals that you can make with handy instructions. But this brings us to our next point:
What You Cannot Do in a Pressure Cooker
When you consider the method used to cook meals inside the pressure cooker, a little common sense goes a long way. Using steam under high pressure, this method of cooking is designed for making meals with moisture in them. So:
Breaded food is definitely out, and you can include battered food in that list also as the high pressured steam will cause food to become soggy and very unappetizing. Save crispy and crunchy foods for a regular oven.
Steaks are another food that requires an entirely different process for cooking. The pressure cooker is great for stewing steaks and making stews.
However, a quality cut of steak is going to be ruined by the cooking process of a pressure cooker.
Diary-based foods are another dish to avoid as the process of cooking with high-pressure steam will undoubtedly cause the texture and flavor of these dishes to be altered dramatically and risk diary-based ingredients curdling.
Bread dough can be proofed inside a pressure cooker, however, baking breaks inside will never yield positive results as the bread will become soggy and will not form a crust of any description.
Firstly, what is a multi-cooker? Simply put, a multi-cooker is an electric oven that operates several different functions and uses a timer to indicate when certain functions are complete.
A typical multi-cooker is able to boil and simmer foods, fry, and deep fry and perform many different functions; hence the name “multi-cooker.”
Meals are prepared using a set program, and the multi-cooker will heat, maintain this heat, and cook ingredients for a set period of time until the food is correctly prepared.
With the functions available on a multi-cooker, various dishes can be prepared, including rice, yogurt, stews, and roasts.
The multi-functionality of the multi-cooker can even bake cakes if you buy a model that provides that particular cooking function.
The vast array of options makes a multi-cooker a great accessory to have in the kitchen that can do a little of everything while having temperature monitoring and preset timers meaning that the appliance does all the work for you.
Slow Cookers Explained
The humble slow cooker occupies many homes across the country, often gifted to people and even more often, sat around gathering dust.
So what does the slow cooker offer users? The basic function of the slow cooker provides a sealed unit that applies low heat over several hours to cook a variety of dishes, including stews, braised meats, and chili.
The benefit of the slow cooker is that ingredients can be added to the slow cooker, and this can be left on all day, perhaps while you’re at work, and the meal will be ready to serve at your convenience later.
With the amazing convenience offered by the slow cooker, it is hard to fully understand why these are often the most under-utilized kitchen appliance that people own.
Many people say that it is having the foresight to have ingredients prepared and ready to be put in the slow cooker.
For those that use the slow cooker on a regular basis, plenty of praise is heaped upon the simple appliance. Although it must be noted that there are some things that the slow cooker cannot do:
Softer vegetables shouldn’t be placed in a slow cooker at all. The low but continued heat is fabulous for root vegetables but entirely inappropriate for delicate vegetables like tomatoes or zucchini, which would be turned into a mushy paste.
Seafood is another ingredient that needs to be avoided in the slow cooker, as the delicate nature of fish, shellfish, and mollusks will destroy the texture and result in a very stomach-churning fishy water.
Finally, the rice should not be cooked in a slow cooker as the nature of the longer cooking times will reduce rice, and in fact, many other grains into a stodgy mess and ruin the ingredients.