Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Vita Clay Multi Cooker

This review took quite a while to get written, because I wanted to be as thorough as possible. I didn't want to cook one or two recipes and go on my merry way without answering some important questions.

And those questions took time to answer. So ... I've been living with this on my counter for months.

The Vita Clay company makes slow cookers and rice cookers with a twist. Instead of a metal cooking pot, the Vita Clay appliances have a clay pot. Crockery. Without a glazed coating. So ... completely different from everything else on the market.

Or anything else that's an electric appliance. There are plenty of clay cookers for oven and some that are good for the stovetop as well.

One of the biggest questions was whether the clay would absorb flavors and odors that would then transfer to other foods. The surprising answer is no. I've cooked everything from pork and sauerkraut to chili to soup in my cooker, and I've also cooked plain white rice after those more pungent foods. And ... there's been no transfer of flavor.

Honestly, I was surprised by that. I expected to have to tell you that you shouldn't cook your yogurt after cooking your kielbasa surprise.

The other surprise was that the clay pot was much easier to clean than I expected. Even with foods as sticky as rice can be, I was able to wash the pot easily afterwards.

There are some downsides to this cooker. You've got a clay inner cooking pot and a clay lid. If you're a klutz and you drop it, it's going to break. If you're not in the habit of dropping your other cookware on a regular basis, you should be fine. There's also some risk of thermal breakage, so you shouldn't take out the hot inner pot and put it on a cold surface. Also, the pot shouldn't be stored while it's still wet or damp, so you need to let it dry completely before putting it back into the cooker and closing the lid.

Cooking in this is much like any other slow cooker or rice cooker, with a couple of exceptions. For one thing, since the clay is porous, you'll loose a little more moisture than when you're cooking in a similar device with a metal pot. If you've ever made a soup or stew in a slow cooker and wished that it wasn't so thin and watery, you'll love that the liquid disappears a bit more in this cooker. In that sense, it's similar to cooking on the stove.

It has a buttons for different foods (rice, soup, stew, yogurt). I was quite surprised at how short the cooking time was for the soup and stews, so you shouldn't plan on putting food into the cooker before you go to work unless you've got some kind of super-tough meat. On the other hand, it would be ideal for unattended after-work cooking. Think of it as a stovetop replacement rather than a slow cooker, and you've got the idea.

The rice was also a success. I tried both white rice and brown rice, and both turned out perfectly. There's also a special button for reheating rice, in case you want to make a lot in advance and reheat as needed.

I haven't tried the yogurt, but I'm pretty sure that will be just fine, too, based on everything else I've made.

Who's it for: Great for people who want a countertop appliance for cooking, but prefer more natural cooking vessels.

Pros: Works well, foods cook quickly and aren't watery as can happen with slow cookers or pressure cookers.

Cons: The clay insert is breakable and it needs a little more care than a teflon-coated metal pot. Good news is that there are replacements available.

Wishes: Since this is really different from a standard slow cooker, it would be great if there was a larger cookbook with recipes (it did come with a recipe book, but more is always good.) While I'm pretty adept at creating and adapting recipes, some folks might appreciate more recipes to get the most use out of the cooker.

Source: I received this from the manufacturer for the purpose of a review.

The Vita Clay folks make a pretty large variety of appliances. Some are better for rice, so if that's a priority, make sure you pick one that is designed for that use.

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