Great kitchen gadget or latest fad for 2022?
Multi cookers can save you money and time. A single gadget on the worktop that potentially can replace all manner of pots, pans and pressure cookers.
Ensure the size is right: Is your family going to benefit? Certainly, if you can fit enough portions in your multicooker. I would say for most families a 6 litre ( roughly 6 quart ) size is ok. For larger groups consider an 8 litre size. Any bigger and the amount of countertop real estate it takes up could be excessive!
Are you an expert Cook? Many multi-cookers make use of today’s high tech, they can be programmed by anyone, sometimes with a single button selection. If your skill level is low or if the everyday use will be for very simple meals, choose a cooker with pre-set functions.
Multicookers are versatile, but if your everyday diet is fried chicken, you might be better off with a simpler product, an air-fryer or Halogen Oven perhaps. Similarly if your main go-to is pressure cooking and you only rarely fry, perhaps a simple electric pressure cooker should be considered. It would certainly be a cheaper choice.
One or Two Lids? Some early Ninja models had two lids, one for pressure cooking and one for airfrying, which made it a little bit more difficult to use, but the later model with one lid is immersing the Air Frying heater and fan in boiling steam, when pressure cooking, is that a good idea? Even if the tech is well designed from a reliability point of view, cleaning it may be a lot more complex.
Functions VS simplicity
Such is the nature of product design, new features will keep appearing on each new product. Or a new twist on an old theme.
Essential – no. Useful maybe. If like me you cannot remember how to set the clock on the cooker, go the simpler route. There is nothing more tedious than having to get out the instruction book each time you use it.
One feature appearing in this years products is phone app control. This I like! First it is so much easier to view than the display and buttons on the machine itself, and the correlation between the hundreds of recipes available and the instructions to program the beast is made sooooooooooo much simpler. You do pay for the app feature though, models with apps available can be up to 50% more expensive. The Instant pot Smart WiFi model comes with an app ( android and ios compatible ) with 750 recipes all pre-programmed into it.
With some multicookers having 15 plus modes, it can be difficult to make a choice when buying, I can only suggest you purchase one which has the features you use the most, and learn the others when time allows.
What about the Results?
Almost without exception, the quality of the cooked items in the multicookers was excellent. Unlike the original pressure cookers, which sat on the gas ring, these have feedback loops to control the temperature, with some models having a temp sensor probe too, plus timers. So they can’t overcook and set up correctly do a really good job. Rice, which can come out soggy in older cooking machines, due to dripping condensation, was perfectly done and fluffy, the water surplus ending up in a drip collector. In a typical 6Ltr cooker up to 12 cups of rice can be cooked in one go.
As the unit is sealed closed in cooking, none of the flavour is able to escape, the food is noticeably more flavoursome.
Economy in Use
These units are definitely quick. On average at least 40% quicker than with conventional cookers. There is no waiting for warming up, but try to avoid the “keep warm” function. Several models automatically go to this mode when the cooking is completed and it does obviously waste electricity. You can work out roughly how much electricity one uses, with the specifications and a timer, if you have an electricity meter with a cost display, you can work out exact figures and its impressive what savings you can make, over a month.