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Counter top cookers

RedFox

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#1
Thought this might be useful for people who have limited space, and/or want to cook food in large batches.

Halogen Cooker



I love cooking roast pork - one of the big drawbacks though is cleaning the oven! This is one of the main reasons for trying a halogen cooker.
As you can see from the picture it's mostly glass, as such it doesn't tend to get crusted up like a regular oven. It also has the bonus of collecting all the fat and meat juices at the bottom, which are then easily decanted.
It roast chicken, pork and lamb really well, and can be used to cook a large batch of meat in one go. The only thing to consider is if you are roasting 4kg of pork in one go, it makes more sense to cut it into 1kg sections, which reduces the overall cooking time.
It can have trouble cooking dense meat, and may end up taking longer to cook things than a regular oven if you've not cut it into smaller pieces.

I have a 6 liter version, which easily fits a 2.5kg chicken or 4kg of pork shoulder for roasting. You can place sweet potatoes next to the meat to bake at the same time. The crackling for roast pork always comes out perfect, and leaves me with a bowl of pork fat to use later.

From wikipedia:
_Halogen oven - Wikipedia
Design[edit]
A basic halogen oven features a heating chamber consisting of a clear glass bowl with a removable glass lid to which the heating assembly is secured.[2][4] Inside the heating chamber, multi-level metal racks are used to elevate the contents during the cooking process.[2] Within the heating assembly are the circular halogen lamp, a fan,[4] and the controls for the oven which frequently include an automatic shut-off timer and a temperature control interface.[2][5] On a basic model, the heating assembly has a handle to allow users to safely lift the lid off the unit. More elaborate models have a hinged lid mounted on an adjustable rear support which can be raised to accommodate an extension ring. This raises the heating assembly to reduce the grilling effect as well as increasing the volume of the oven. Hinged models are safer and easier to use.[6] A safety shut-off switch turns off the lamp when the lid is raised during operation. The glass bowl is positioned in a stand which raises the bowl off the table-top and decreases the transfer of heat to the surrounding surfaces. Handles are often incorporated into the stand to allow for users to move the unit, providing safety especially during or after operation.[2]

Operation[edit]
The halogen lamp is turned on and off[6] by a simple thermostat or electronic control and generates waves of infrared light to heat the air within the heating chamber.[2] The fan then circulates this heated air throughout the chamber to evenly cook the contents of the bowl through convective heat transfer, or convection.[1][4] Self-cleaning can be performed by adding some hot water and detergent to the empty bowl. The fan swirls the hot water and usually takes about ten minutes to remove any grease and some food deposits.[6]

Efficiency[edit]
Reports often claim halogen ovens have shorter cooking times than conventional ovens, with one report stating a figure of up to 40% faster,[2] but 20% faster on average.[7] Another report claims a halogen oven cooks food up to 60% faster than a conventional oven.[1] In terms of energy use, one source claims that a halogen oven uses about "half the electricity of a conventional oven and about the same as a microwave oven".[3]
Cleaning is a breeze. All you need to do is wipe out any excess fat etc from the bowl (I'd hope you've tipped most of it into a container to use later!), then add an inch of hot water, dish washing liquid, set the temperature to 'clean' and let it run for an hour.
The top part can have the glass wiped down with a damp cloth, however the metal around the heating element may still gain some burned on grease from cooking things like roast pork.

In the UK, you can find used halogen cookers in charity shops for £5-£20.

Counter top electric pressure cooker (Instant Pot)



This has been amazing, and has allowed me to batch cook huge amounts of food. I have the 8 liter version (6 liter inner pot), which produces enough food for breakfast and lunch for ~2 weeks. I also makes stews/broths in it, that when divided up (it sets to a really solid gel in the fridge, that can be sliced into chunks) and frozen provide enough evening meals for a month and a half (just place in a saucepan and re-heat with water, butter and salt for instant broth/stew!).

It has a delayed start timer (upto 24 hours), and will switch to 'keep warm' after cooking. It's so effecient it will hold pressure for about an hour if left on keep warm, and even if fully turned off food left inside (if you did a full pot) will still be reasonably hot 8 hours later. This can actually be slightly annoying if you want to decant things and put them in the fridge/freezer!

I was lucky to pick one up from Amazon on a black Friday sale last year, for about 60% of the normal cost.

From the website:
_Duo 8 Qt - Instant Pot
Instant Pot® Duo is a smart Electric Pressure Cooker designed to be Safe, Convenient and Dependable.

It speeds up cooking by 2~6 times using up to 70% less energy and, above all, produces nutritious healthy food in a convenient and consistent fashion.

Instant Pot® Duo 7-In-1 Multi-Use Programmable Cooker replaces 7 kitchen appliances – Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steam, Sauté/Searing, Yogurt Maker & Warmer.

14 smart built-in programs – Soup/Broth, Meat/Stew, Bean/Chili, Poultry, Sauté/Searing, Steam, Rice, Porridge, Multigrain, Slow Cook, Keep-Warm, Yogurt, Pasteurize & Pressure Cook, now, you can cook your favorite dishes with the press of a button.

A 24-hour delay start allows for delayed cooking. Automatic Keep-Warm holds the temperature of the food until ready to serve.

Instant Pot® generates almost no noise and leaks no steam. It traps all the aroma in the food without heating up the kitchen. The 3-ply stainless steel bottom inner pot is extremely durable and leaves no health concerns associated with non-stick coatings. The slim body design has lid holders for both left and right-handed users. The brushed stainless steel exterior is finger print resistant.

Instant Pot® Duo uses the latest 3rd generation technology with an embedded microprocessor, which monitors the pressure and temperature, keeps time and adjusts heating intensity. 3 temperatures in ‘Sauté’ for searing, simmering or thickening and 3 temperatures in ‘Slow Cook’ to provide greater flexibility.

The cooking programs have been lab-tested for optimal effect. These greatly improve cooking result and maintain consistence. Instant Pot is carefully designed to eliminate many common errors that may cause harm or spoil food. It passed the stringent UL certification giving you uncompromised safety and peace of mind and protects you with 10 proven safety mechanisms and patented technologies.
  • Duo, the number 1 selling multi-cooker, combines 7 kitchen appliances in 1, Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer, prepares dishes up to 70% faster to support your busy lifestyle
  • 14 Smart Programs – Soup/Broth, Meat/Stew, Bean/Chili, Poultry, Sauté/Simmer, Rice, Multigrain, Porridge, Steam, Slow Cook, Keep Warm, Yogurt, Manual, and Pressure Cook. Now, your favorite dishes are as easy as pressing a button!
  • Healthy, stainless steel (18/8) inner cooking pot made from food grade 304, no chemical coating, 3-ply bottom for even heat distribution, fully sealed environment traps the flavours, nutrients and aromas within the food
  • Easy To Handle – Exterior, brushed stainless steel, finger print resistant, with lid holder for left and right handed users.
  • Built with the latest 3rd generation technology, the microprocessor monitors pressure, temperature, keeps time, and adjusts heating intensity and duration to achieve your desired results every time
  • The Smart Cooker, remembers the way you cook, each program remembers your last customization.
  • Dual Pressure Settings for fast and flexible cooking. Cooking with high pressure reduces cooking time by up to 70% and cooking with low pressure avoids overcooking delicate foods.
  • Accessories Include – stainless steel steam rack with handles, rice paddle, soup spoon, measuring cup, condensation collector and recipe booklet. The cooking pot, lid and steam rack are dishwasher safe.
  • UL and ULC certified with 10 safety mechanisms to provide you with added assurance, designed to eliminate many common errors
  • Dimensions: 14.8 x 13.18 x 14.01 inches
  • Weight: 15.80 pounds
  • Power supply: 120V – 60Hz
  • Power: 1200 watts
  • Power Supply Cord: 35 inches, non-detachable, 3 prong plug
  • Duo series comes in three models:
    • Duo Mini: 3qt cooking pot and 700W heating element
    • Duo 60: 6qt cooking pot and 1000W heating element
    • Duo 80: 8qt cooking pot and 1200W heating element
Cooking takes 20-30 minutes to heat/pressurize, followed by the cooking time.
If you are trying to cook a large amount of frozen meat, it may not reach full temperature/pressurize, so it's best to avoid this or at least make sure it has pressurized.
It can't unfortunately be used for pressure canning, from what I've read.

My favorite meal to cook at the moment (beyond the stew/broth, which I now eat every day) is 3kg of sausages, with the rest filled with some vegetables. Once cooked, let the steam out (this can be a little startling if you are not use to it), once the pressure is gone, open the lid, add some gluten free buckwheat pasta (250g), make sure it's submerged and cook for a further 5 minutes. No need to mess around with additional saucepans of water.
I divide the contents into two/three large glass containers with lids, freeze half and keep the rest in the fridge to take as breakfast/lunch to work.

When originally looking at these types of cookers, the fact that the inner pot was steel is one of the main things I considered (beyond the super efficiency of it).
The lid is also steel, with only one very small piece of aluminium (or so I think) around the steam vent (presumably because of the contraction properties of the metal). That it has any aluminium is a concern, but I figure given it's so small and not in contact with the food it should be relatively ok.
Attached is a picture of the inside of the lid (the aluminium piece is circled in red).
 

Attachments

monotonic

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#3
When originally looking at these types of cookers, the fact that the inner pot was steel is one of the main things I considered (beyond the super efficiency of it).
The lid is also steel, with only one very small piece of aluminium (or so I think) around the steam vent (presumably because of the contraction properties of the metal). That it has any aluminium is a concern, but I figure given it's so small and not in contact with the food it should be relatively ok.
Attached is a picture of the inside of the lid (the aluminium piece is circled in red).
I think you give the manufacturers too much credit. If they had put a lot of effort into that valve they probably would have had it anodized (or maybe I don't see it clearly). It is much more econonomical to make small parts out of aluminum, whereas stainless steel is expensive and hard to machine. And they can easily get away with using aluminum parts when most people don't fear aluminum cooking pans. In any case, the real test is whether the surface finish degrades significantly as it is used. If it stays about the same, that is good. If it develops a stable stain which doesn't change, that is probably just as good. If it has a different stain every time you use it or if it develops white powder or pits, that is definitely a bad sign.

I have been wondering if they would ever have a Teflon-free version of the countertop pressure cookers. When I got my Presto pressure cooker, I complained about the new aluminum safety valve on the lid and they let me trade it out for old stock without it. Anodized aluminum would have been much more acceptable than the crudely machined valve they used which started to corrode instantly.

I suppose if one were very determined, they could remove the aluminum part and anodize it themselves, or even better give it to a professional anodizing service. I actually have a small lathe now, so it's within the realm of possibility that I could make a new valve out of stainless steel if it ever comes up again.
 

Séamas

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#4
Great post! We have an instant pot and we love it, I recommend them to people all the time. We bought it about 18 months ago and use it quite frequently, maybe 3-4 times per week. It is so fast and convenient.

The aluminum piece on my lid looks exactly the same as in RedFox's photo, so I don't think it is degrading. Also FWIW I've had my hair tested for nutritional minerals and toxic metals several times over that time span and my aluminum levels have gone down.
 

Gary

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#5
It looks good Redfox! :-)

Having lived in a small space for 10 years now (narrowboat and caravan) my preferred choice of cooker is the Remoska. It has a 3 year guarantee with Lakeland here in the UK and the Grand Remoska Electric Cooker 4L retails at £169.99. It is extremely energy efficient using hardly any power – only 580W, is easy to clean and can roast, toast and bake.


WHAT IS A REMOSKA?

A very clever and compact oven invented in the Czech Republic in the 1950s as a super-efficient replacement for everyday ovens, it is basically an electric oven with a lid that does the cooking. It's so energy-efficient it's an economical marvel, and is small enough to stow away in the tiniest kitchen or even a caravan.

But there's a lot more to the Remoska than its vintage credentials. Because it comes apart, you can carry the pan to the table to serve whatever delicious food you've just made. Incredibly versatile, it can be used to roast, bake, fry even cook pizza and reheat ready meals, and there's an additional rack available to buy separately so you can raise food up for quicker or healthier cooking.
Lakeland Grand Remoska Electric Cooker 4l 580w | Lakeland
 

Ant22

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#6
I love cooking roast pork - one of the big drawbacks though is cleaning the oven! This is one of the main reasons for trying a halogen cooker.
As you can see from the picture it's mostly glass, as such it doesn't tend to get crusted up like a regular oven. It also has the bonus of collecting all the fat and meat juices at the bottom, which are then easily decanted.
It roast chicken, pork and lamb really well, and can be used to cook a large batch of meat in one go. The only thing to consider is if you are roasting 4kg of pork in one go, it makes more sense to cut it into 1kg sections, which reduces the overall cooking time.
It can have trouble cooking dense meat, and may end up taking longer to cook things than a regular oven if you've not cut it into smaller pieces.

I'm quite interested in this one RedFox. My favourite feature is that it's glass so nothing will leak into my food. And I must say I bought into your "cleaning is a breeze". :-) I'm actually starting to have some modest success in meal preparation after a lifetime of quite unpalatable disasters and I've been looking to invest in something that will allow me to cook large batches of food. Lazy I am!

My house mates sometimes complain about the smell of my cooking (well, I mentioned very limited skill set in this area :-[). I could just plug this beauty to an an extension lead and cook my food outside! :thup:

I haven't noticed any brand names, any chance you could share which one you have?


Having lived in a small space for 10 years now (narrowboat and caravan) my preferred choice of cooker is the Remoska. It has a 3 year guarantee with Lakeland here in the UK and the Grand Remoska Electric Cooker 4L retails at £169.99. It is extremely energy efficient using hardly any power – only 580W, is easy to clean and can roast, toast and bake.
Hi Gary, the energy efficiency and compact size are very attractive but it looks like the cooker is Teflon coated. Also, I can't find any information on the material it's made from. I am one of those weirdos who overreact to the weirdest products and changing all my pots to stainless steel was quite an improvement to my tummy.

I guess someone whose digestive system isn't an oversensitive joke would be happy about the energy usage and space savings!
 

Gary

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#7
I could just plug this beauty to an an extension lead and cook my food outside!
:lol:

Hi Gary, the energy efficiency and compact size are very attractive but it looks like the cooker is Teflon coated. Also, I can't find any information on the material it's made from. I am one of those weirdos who overreact to the weirdest products and changing all my pots to stainless steel was quite an improvement to my tummy.
They are stainless steel and Teflon coated Ant. The standard 2L 400W model I have cost £149.99 and for someone who likes eating but dislikes cooking it is really simple to use - which is ideal for me! ;-D

Tailor-made to fit a Standard 2 Litre Remoska pan, this stainless steel Standard Remoska Rack is double-sided to give you extra cooking options.
The high side has long 'legs' to lift food closer to the heat source for super-quick cooking, so 'snacky' foods like pizza and toasted sandwiches will be cooked in much less time... great news for those with rumbling tummies!
Turn the rack over, and the short 'legs' will raise food off the base of the pan, allowing fat to drain away for healthier cooking results.
20cm Dia.

About Remoska Cookers

Made by skilled workers in a small Czech factory, Remoska cookers have been firm favourites at Lakeland for many years - and no wonder.
Being small they cook much more efficiently than a full-size oven while using very little power. And you can use them for almost anything you would have used a conventional oven for, with even better results: roast chicken pieces (crispy skin, flesh as soft as butter), succulent lamb chops with golden roasted potatoes, toad-in-the hole and fish bake; toasted sandwiches, baked potatoes, pizzas from frozen, ready meals in their foil dishes; you can even bake light, moist sponge cakes and delicious scones. Our Remoskas come with tips and some simple recipes to start you off and a Remoska Cooking recipe book is also available to order should you need further inspiration.
The pans are also coated with Teflon® Classic so they're dishwasher-safe and easy to clean and, being so compact, they can be packed up and taken anywhere where there's a 240V electricity supply. So it's great for boating holidays, for motor homes, caravans and holiday cottages. You can say goodbye to endless tins and packets as a whole new range of freshly cooked food becomes possible on holiday.
6.4cm x 20.3cm (2.5" x 8")
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Remoska-Standard-Cooker-Rack-Litre/dp/B00BNCXQS2
 

RedFox

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#8
They are stainless steel and Teflon coated Ant. The standard 2L 400W model I have cost £149.99 and for someone who likes eating but dislikes cooking it is really simple to use - which is ideal for me! ;-D
Well, you might want to read up on teflon toxicity if you haven't - that stuff is pretty nasty. Just because you're food is on a rack doesn't mean it's not contaminated - teflon creates toxic fumes.
Also, what do you do with the fat that accumulates at the bottom of the pan, on the teflon?

Chemical Used in Teflon & Non-Stick Cookware Linked to Heart Disease -- Sott.net
Chemical Used in Teflon & Non-Stick Cookware Linked to Heart Disease

Further presenting non-stick cookware dangers, a new study published in this month's Archives of Internal Medicine reveals a relation between PFOA (the chemical in Teflon, used in nonstick pans among other things) and heart disease. While scientists are cautious, as they always are, to say they are definitively linked, some say steering clear of the chemical "just in case" wouldn't be a bad idea.

Cooking up Heart Disease

According to the study published in the journal The Jama Network, researchers looked at PFOA presence and incidence of heart disease, heart attack, or stroke. About 98 percent of Americans have traces of PFOA in them, those with the highest levels of the chemical were found to have double the odds of heart disease when compared with those having the lowest levels.

Also, those with higher PFOA, had a 78 percent higher risk of peripheral heart disease - where arteries narrow and harden.

Researchers say there is no hard evidence that the PFOA causes heart diseases or otherwise increases someone's risk, merely that the conditions "co-exist."
"What we are finding is that high levels of PFOA and cardiovascular disease coexisted for some reason. That is all," said lead author Dr. Anoop Shgankar with the West Virginia University School of Public Health. "It is possible that we are seeing something that is just a bystander and is there because of confounding associations."​
But this isn't the first time perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) has been associated or found co-existing with other health problems. The Environmental Working Group has it classified as a "likely carcinogen," meaning it could lead to cancer. Even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it was likely to cause cancer.

So, if something causes mutations in cells, as in cancer, wouldn't it make sense that it could lead to a whole host of other health concerns?

Along with the increasingly well-known knowledge that the toxic fumes emitted from non-stick cookware can make a bird drop dead if it's in the same room, PFOA has also been shown to cause like to low birth weight and organ specific oxidative DNA damage. Other research published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal says those with higher blood levels of PFOA also have a higher incidence of thyroid disease.

But PFOA is still found in some nonstick pans - it's the coating that allows people to use less oil. And with 98 percent of Americans walking around with PFOA in their bodies, it's definitely something to be concerned about.

What can you do? If you haven't already, stop using nonstick pans. Cast iron is a far better choice, and will last a lifetime.
I think you give the manufacturers too much credit. If they had put a lot of effort into that valve they probably would have had it anodized (or maybe I don't see it clearly).
That's entirely possible. The float valve itself is anodized (red), but you can't see it in the picture. The surround of the float valve was my concern.

The aluminum piece on my lid looks exactly the same as in RedFox's photo, so I don't think it is degrading.
I also haven't seen any degradation. I've emailed support, so hopefully they'll let us know if it's coated. Perhaps it's just anodized in silver?

I haven't noticed any brand names, any chance you could share which one you have?
I wasn't so much concerned with make, rather than size. I got the largest one I could (12 liters), and I think I paid £15 for it from a charity shop. It turns out to be a good brand/the same as my slow cooker (which I haven't used since getting the Instant Pot) - Gino D'acampo
_https://www.amazon.co.uk/GINO-DACAMPO-12L-HALOGEN-OVEN/dp/B00464FE84

Russell Hobbs and Daewoo are usually good makes, although if you look at the amazon link you can see most are just re-branded. Getting one with a lid without a hinge would probably be a good idea (the hinge adds a point of failure, and potentially makes it harder to clean). A hinge would make sense if you are very limited on space though, as you have to rest the lid in a stand if it doesn't have a hinge.
 

RedFox

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#9
Regarding my concern about part of the lid around the float valve being aluminium, I got a reply back from customer support:
[..]
Instant Pot’s number one focus is consumer safety and we aspire to inspire the highest level of consumer confidence with the Instant Pot product line.

From the introduction of our first cooker, we have continued to adhere to the most stringent safety standards, including the standards established by the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), the most rigorous standards currently available.

The float valve and the exhaust valve are made from aluminum. These parts have passed FDA food standard tests and do not come into contact with food.

The part which you are inquiring about is made of Stainless Steel.

I hope that this information is helpful to you. If you should have any other questions or comments, please feel free to reach out. We are always here to help!

Kind regards
It's still an odd colour for Stainless Steel osit.
I also tried a magnet test, but it seems from research that magnets don't stick to high quality SS so I can't confirm it is SS.
The magnet wouldn't stick to the inside pot or lid, both of which are SS. It did stick to the outside of the machine.