“ Brand: Tesco / Type: Slow cooker „
I have been wanting a slow cooker for a while so after Christmas when I seen this on display in Tesco for £12 instead of £15 I snapped it up.
The slow cooker came in a rather big box I thought it would dominate my worktop but after opening the box I found it was mainly polystyrene and the actual item itself was a nice size to fit on my counter.
This slow cooker has a 3L capacity which is suitable for 3-4 people.
The cooker looks like the one in the picture above except the body is stainless steel. The handles of the slow cooker are black. The lid is made from toughened glass and it is transparent so you can see the food cooking. The cooker has rubbery non slip feet for safety. The crock pot inside the cooker is also removable for ease of cleaning.
This cooker has 3 heat settings; warm, low and high.
I bought this because I work shifts that mean I get in at 2.30pm having not had dinner so I am usually hungry and I can't be bothered to wait for food to cook so I was eating junk. I have been preparing the veg and meat the night before and leaving it in the fridge overnight and then sticking the cooker on low for the 8 or so hours I am out of the house.
The cooker looks really nice on the worktop and it looks more expensive than what it was.
On a low setting I can put a casserole or soap on for 8 or so hours and when I get in from work the meat is all tender and the veg flavoursome. As this is a medium size cooker it mean s I have leftovers for the next day and I am also able to freeze some for another day.
This cooker is quick to heat up but even on the warm setting the body of the cooker gets hot so care needs to be taken not to touch the outside or place anything against it.
After cooking the crock pot can be removed so you can serve the food at the table because the pot can be removed it makes it easy to clean and I have found that the few times I have used this it is easy to clean no food tends to stick as the slow cooker stops moisture from evaporating from the food preventing it from drying out.
I highly recommend this cooker. I have been able to cook healthy meals just by throwing a few ingredients in the pot. The cooking process means that the food is nice and tasty when I come in from work. I love this slow cooker I have been using it most of the week now.
Top marks from me.
I've had three slow cookers but rarely used any of them; I'm a housewife so have time to prepare a meal right before cooking it and frankly I find slow cookers too, well, SLOW. During the six week school holiday however I've had an organisational revamp, the kids going back to school and Mark returning to work coincided 'beautifully' with the cold weather making an appearance so I thought I'd dig out the FOURTH slow cooker (given to me by mum) and give it another go - in theory providing everyone with a hot and nutritious meal for when they walk through the door.
This is a Tesco slow cooker with a matte black finish and three litre capacity. It looks like any other slow cooker; a heat resistant lid with cool-touch handle, black crock pot and a metal casing (that gets very hot so be careful!). You operate it using a very simple dial, there are only three heat settings (low, medium and high) and they're all clearly marked so you probably won't select the wrong one. Rubber feet on the base are effective at stopping the slow cooker from sliding around, although obviously it's best to have it pushed as far back on the worktop as possible to prevent a child grabbing hold of it and pulling a boiling hot meal down on top of them!
The way I use the slow cooker is to brown meat or chicken in the frying pan with some herbs then add it to the crock pot with a large selection of vegetables which I've peeled and chopped so they're all a similar size. Add stock, sauce or gravy and switch it on. Simples. I always give it an hour on 'high' before switching down to 'low' (or 'medium' if I need it doing a little quicker). Generally a beef stew will be ready for eating after around eight hours on the 'low' setting, perfect for me as I prepare the meal the night before and just switch the cooker on when I get up at 6am - this way a hearty, warming stew is not only cooked but simmered for a good while by the time the kids return home from school (usually feeling cold and hungry), filling the stew with flavour and the house with the most delicious aroma.
You have to wash everything up by hand as none of the elements are suitable for the dishwasher, this is fine for me and in all honesty I find it incredibly easy to wash even after it's produced the messiest meal. I've never needed to soak the crock pot for long and it seems to be coated in a material that wipes clean regardless of how sticky or 'baked on' your sauce looks at the end of the cooking time.
This exact slow cooker doesn't seem to be available in Tesco now but they have a alternative model for £15 which looks extremely similar, albeit with a brushed steel finish.
I've read great things about slow cookers, but even though they're not overly expensive, I've just never got round to buying myself one. I was very pleased to discover my uncle had bought us one as a wedding present a few months ago, and have been experimenting with our new gadget ever since.
==Price and Availability==
The slow cooker came in a box with "Tesco" in huge letters on the front. I took it from this that my uncle bought it from Tesco! Looking at the model number on the website, it currently costs £12, and of course you get Clubcard points from it too. It is currently part of the Clubcard Exchange deal, whereby you can double your Clubcard vouchers to get twice the value in household goods.
Looks aren't everything, but I have to say this is a sleek looking bit of kit. It's black in colour, with a transparent lid, and the controls on the front are in the form of a simple knob, which keeps the front looking classy and uncluttered. When I think of slow cookers I usually picture them being stainless steel, so this is a little different, still looks classy, and avoids the issue with greasy fingerprints being left on it.
Like most slow cookers, this model is fairly low on features and is very simple to use. Slow cookers are designed for one main purpose, and as such they don't come with lots of knobs and buttons. I imagine most models work in the same manner, so it should be easy to figure out how to work the slow cooker without spending hours reading the instructions.
That said, being a woman, I found it necessary to read the instructions before using the machine, rather than jumping straight in. This was quite useful because I'd never used a slow cooker before, and although it's easy to use, there are a few basic rules, and you do need to know which setting to use depending on what you're cooking.
There are three settings, which are used as follows:
HIGH - the cooking time for this setting is around 4-6 hours
LOW - this is used when you're cooking something over a longer period of time, such as cheap cuts of meat, and takes around 6-8 hours depending on what you're cooking. The instruction booklet also says you can use this setting to heat up food, but I've personally never used it for this because I think it's a long winded and messy way of doing this when you could just use the microwave instead
WARM - this setting can be used to keep the food warm once it's cooked, although for food safety reasons it is recommended not to be left on this setting for more than an hour or so after cooking
The slow cooker has a ceramic bowl which sits in the base of the cooker, this is only for use with the slow cooker so don't be tempted to put it in the oven if you run out of crockery!
The capacity of the slow cooker is 3 litres, which is ample for our needs as there are only two in our household. I would say this would probably be sufficient for a family of up to four too, as we tend to find recipes generally are for 4 people as it's not worth doing for 2, so we end up freezing leftovers or having them for lunch the following day.
It has non-slip feet, a removable pot for your ingredients, and is cool to touch when in operation. The lid is made from toughened glass.
I have to admit, my first experience with the slow cooker was not a successful one, although I put this down to human error rather than the machine itself. I didn't really follow a recipe as such, but instead threw all the ingredients in, added stock and red wine, and set it on the low setting. I didn't realise that the slow cooker can't absorb water as well as other methods, so I ended up with a tasty but very watery casserole.
After this initial disaster, I decided to do a bit more research and try again. I invested in a couple of cookbooks for slow cookers, and found lots of recipes online. I found that if you follow the instructions the results are so much better, and have since made very tasty casseroles, curries, and I've even attempted soup. I was quite surprised at how many different meals can be cooked in the slow cooker, as I tend to associate them with casseroles and stews. They can also be used for curries, soups, and even desserts according to some recipes!
Using the slow cooker is very straightforward. Once you know what you are doing, it's a simple case of throwing the ingredients in and then you can forget about it until hours later. Generally speaking, I find that although the guide book recommends around 8 hours for the low setting, I usually use less water and cook it for around 6 hours instead. Once the smell of food fills the house, I tend to get impatient and want to eat sooner than planned.
There is a light on the front of this slow cooker, which I presumed would be lit to alert us to the fact it was plugged in, but I think ours must be broken as it's never come on when I've been using it. This isn't really a problem, however, the smell of curry or casserole and my rumbling belly is a good indication that the slow cooker is in use!
I'm a bit nervous leaving the slow cooker on all day, and for this reason I probably don't get full use out of it as I tend to use it at weekends when I know I'll be home all day, rather than leaving it on when I'm out at work. I don't know why it bothers me so much, someone once told me it's no different to leaving your TV on standby all day, but I just know it's the kind of thing that would have me on edge all day at work knowing it was left on, and to be honest I have enough things to be feeling on edge about so why add to the list.
The ceramic bowl which is used inside the base of the slow cooker is surprisingly heavy, and sometimes when it's full of ingredients it's a bit of a struggle to lift when using oven gloves. This is probably due to my poor upper arm strength, but I think it's worth mentioning for anyone who has similar weaknesses.
The lid is transparent, which I believe is fairly standard for slow cookers, and this allows you to keep an eye on your food as it's cooking. The only problem with this is that once the cooking process has begun, condensation appears on the inside of the lid, so it's not so easy to see what's going on inside. I tend not to worry about this, and remove the lid later on in the cooking process when I think the food should be ready, as I read somewhere that taking the lid off can affect cooking times due to releasing heat from the cooker.
The cord on this slow cooker isn't very long, so it does need to be placed reasonably close to the socket it is plugged into. This isn't an issue for us as we designed our kitchen ourselves, so we placed sockets in places we knew would be useful for us. Moving the slow cooker around when cooking isn't really advisable as it is possible to spill the contents over the side, but should you find you need to adjust its positioning for any reason, the outside of the slow cooker remains cool to allow you to do so. The bowl inside gets very hot, however.
The slow cooker is sturdy, but not bulky. In terms of storage it is one of the smaller "gadgets" we have in our cupboard alongside sandwich makers, blenders, and various other bits and pieces. It's got a good weight to it (3.4kg), but isn't too bad to lift out of the cupboard as and when you need it. We store ours near the front of the cupboard as it's one of the more useful items we own, so this makes it easy to get it in and out of the cupboard. It has non-slip rubber feet so it's not so easy to slide this around your cupboard when storing it, you do have to lift it out to get to the items behind it.
The removeable bowl cleans really easily, I leave it to soak and then give it a wipe over with a scourer, although it is dishwasher safe if there are any very stubborn stains on it. The slow cooker should never be immersed in water (obviously), and I find for the outside of the appliance, a wipe with a damp cloth seems to do the trick if you have any spillage on the outside. The outside doesn't usually require much attention, especially as it's black in colour rather than stainless steel.
The lid is made from toughened glass which apparently makes it easier to clean. I find it doesn't take much effort to clean the lid, and as it's glass I tend to put it through the dishwasher anyway.
Although it's on the lower end of the price scale, I'm not convinced I would gain anything by having a more expensive slow cooker. This one does everything I need it to, and would be suitable for households of up to four people. It is easy to use, sturdy but not too bulky, and very low maintenance on cleaning and maintenance. It also has a couple of good safety features such as the non-slip feet and cool touch casing, and I would have no issue recommending this to anyone.
Short name: Tesco SCB11