You may have been listening to all the hype about multi cookers and wondering, ‘are they really worth it?’. If you’re stuck in a rut when it comes to cooking, then the answer may well be a resounding yes.
Multi cookers can help with a whole range of culinary tasks, from simple vegetable steaming and supposedly simple rice cooking (it’s a difficult one to get right!) to anything from frying, slow cooking and even smoking.
If you can never quite seem to get the timings or temperatures right and are constantly disappointed by overcooked or burnt dishes, then a multi cooker could be the perfect kitchen companion for you. Many of them have automatic settings that will self-regulate the pressure and temperature so you can cook your meals to perfection every time.
On the other hand, if your problem lies with not having enough time to cook, then equally a multi cooker could be your knight in shining armor. Not only is it possible to make large batches of food that are suitable for freezing throughout the week but they also significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to cook everyday meals.
On top of this, many of them come with a timer setting and a keep warm function, so that you can set your meal up to start cooking whilst your still at work, allowing you to return home to a hot, fresh home-cooked meal. If you are constantly ordering from takeaway apps or resorting to unhealthy fast food, then a multi cooker could be just the thing to get you back on track.
Selecting Your Multi Cooker
When it comes to selecting which multi cooker to invest in, they range significantly in their functionality. Whilst some models are not much more than a slow-cooker, others come with a whole range of useful and exciting functions and modes. This is why it is important to check the spec carefully before buying to ensure your multi cooker is worth the money.
Which functions you opt for will depend entirely on what you like to cook and eat. If you’re a fan of warming winter stews and succulent slow-cooked meats, then be sure to opt for a model with braising, roasting and slow-cooking capabilities. Some higher-end multi cookers even have a facility for wood chips, so that you can smoke your own meats.
If you’re a fan of rice and risotto dishes, then a model with a rice-cooker setting is ideal for you. It may seem like a simple thing to cook, but it is actually incredibly difficult to achieve the perfect fluffy rice in a standard saucepan, which is why a rice-cooker is a great investment. Rather than taking up valuable space in your cupboard with one of these single-purpose, bulky machines, a multi cooker with a rice-cooking mode is the perfect way to incorporate one into your kitchen. Some multi cookers even come with a self-stirring mechanism, so you can create the perfect risotto without having to watch the pan like a hawk.
If you’re a health-freak and you really want to know what goes in to everything that you eat, then you may want to opt for a multi cooker with a yoghurt making facility. Although yoghurt should be something that is great for your health and digestive system, it is so often tainted with unnecessary sugars and preservatives when bought from the supermarket. By making it yourself at home, you can regulate exactly what goes into it and create the perfect healthy treat.
For all the bakers out there, a bread machine is often a dream product that you’ve never quite given in to due to space concerns. A multi cooker with a bread baking function is a great way to justify getting one of these handy but non-essential kitchen items, as you’ll be able to use it for so much more on top. These models also usually come with cake baking functions, so you can whip up mouthwatering fluffy sponges without panicking about timings or opening the oven door.
How Much Space Do They Take Up?
Again, this varies widely from model to model. Whilst some multi cookers are very compact and only produce enough to feed 2-4 people, others are far larger feeding between 8-10 people. Some models come with a removable pot and lid, which not only makes them easier to store but easier to clean as well.
As multi cookers come in many different shapes and sizes, you will need to consider whether you have the space to store it on your worktop or whether you will need to fit it in your cupboard. Rounded devices can be more difficult to store as they do not stack easily and they waste cupboard space. If you are very strapped for storage, you may be best opting for a flat-topped square or rectangular model that can be tucked neatly in the corner.
How Easy Are They to Use?
As always, this question rests heavily on which model you opt for. Whilst some multi cookers only come with a simple temperature control which you will need to monitor yourself, others come with digitally in-built recipes, allowing you to throw in the ingredients and cook them at the press of a button.
Your level of culinary expertise should dictate which type of model you go for, but those with auto-temperature settings can be found at incredibly reasonable prices that are well-worth splashing out a little extra for. It is also very useful to opt for a model with a timer and keep-warm setting, as this way you don’t need to keep a close eye on your cooking to ensure that all goes to plan.
Many models come with a specially designed recipe book, laying out the ideal quantities and temperature settings for your machine. It is always useful to choose a machine that comes with this, as you will have a range of fail-safe dishes on hand to cook.
The whole point in a multi cooker is to save you time and effort in the kitchen, and to open up your culinary possibilities. Be sure to select your model carefully to ensure that it functions in line with your needs and it will be well worth the investment.