Electric Cookers/Steamers: What it Boils Down to
Electric cookers today are only a shadow of what was popular during your grandma’s time in the kitchen. In the golden days, an electric cooker was a popular and dependable appliance. It did the trick by simply cooking food slowly (aka “slow cooker”) at a low setting for hours in a ceramic pot, nested inside a metal housing, fitted with an electric element at the bottom. Many times, the main dish was over-cooked, but the trade-off was having a hot meal at day’s end.
Variety: The Spice of Life
Other electric cooking devices developed include:
• Countertop models and hot plates: These offer the convenience of preparing food on various surfaces
• Griddles and Woks: Food can be prepared without pots and pans
• Cookers/steamers: Cookers now double as steamers, increasing their versatility, while optimizing efficiency; additionally, cookbooks offer more than main dishes—they promote cookers as sumptuous desert-makers
More features and benefits of cookers/steamers:
• Cookers and steamers boast a greater capacity than its predecessors, allowing more food to be prepared and stored for future meals
• Keep-warm feature allows meals to be kept warming until it’s served
• Cookers feature pots with a Teflon coating for non-stick cooking and easy cleaning
• Cooking cycles are attractive for those who want more control over length of time(s) various dishes can be cooked because the cooking time and temperature can be controlled via digital buttons/dials on the cooker
21st Century Popularity
A method recently debuted is “induction heating.” In a nutshell, specialized metal pots and pans conduct the electrical currents to generate heat used in cooking. Paradoxically, the predecessor to induction heating was introduced in 1831.
Cookers/steamers vary greatly in capacity (e.g., 2qts to 10qts), and can cost anywhere from about $20 to upwards of $190. While basic models offer auto-shut off, as well as, the keep-warm feature, higher-priced ones can be pre-programmed to turn on at a set time, switch from one setting to another, and activating the keep-warm feature.
Today, there are more families consciously opting for healthier home-cooked meals, along with the desire to save money. However, in many households there is little to no time available to slave over a hot stove (like in grandma’s day), so time-saving devices such as cookers/steamers have become many a family’s best friend.