All About Slow Cooker

slowcookerIf you are dreaming about dinners that cook themselves, you can make that dream happen really easily! Using slow cooker to take care of your family’s meals is a reality. Just a few minutes early in the day and all is taken care of. Your slow cooker will tenderize your meats and vegetables, blend your flavours and your dinner will be ready when you are.

It becomes a very welcomed helping hand!

Slow Cooker Tips

What to do to make the best of your slow cooker:

  • You can prepare all ingredients the night before and refrigerate them overnight. You can put them together in the stone bowl from your slow cooker and in the morning, simply place bowl in heating base and turn on to desired setting to cook.
  • Slow cookers can be plugged into any socket in a safe spot to save a little more kitchen space and as much as your slow cooker will stay on for a few hours, it is electrically economical. It requires less energy to cook the same recipe in a slow cooker than on the stove or in the oven
  • Your slow cooker does not brown the meat. If you prefer the look and taste of browned meat, quickly stir-fry it before adding to the slow cooker.
  • Use less tender cuts of meat such as stewing beef, shank, blade or brisket, as they won’t dry out with this moist heat method of cooking.
  • Cut your vegetables into same-size pieces so they cook evenly.
  • If you are using frozen vegetables, add them 30 minutes before serving.
  • Root vegetables will take longer to cook than meat, so place vegetables on the bottom and meat on top.
  • It is best to use fresh or whole herbs and spices in the slow cooker due to the long cooking time. Ground spices and herbs tend to lose their flavour.
  • To convert a traditional recipe into a slow cooker one, reduce the liquid by 50 percent and increase the cooking time (1 hour in the oven equals about 6 to 8 hours on LOW in the slow cooker).
  • Taking the lid off your slow cooker, even just to give it a quick stir, drastically reduces the heat and extends the cooking time. Only lift the lid if instructed to do so in the recipe.
  • Meat reaches temperatures of up to 190°F in the slow cooker and is therefore a perfectly safe method of cooking. Be sure to follow the temperature and time specified in the recipe.
  • A slow cooker should never be pre-heated. Simply put the stoneware container in the slow cooker base, cover and set the temperature.
  • To speed the cleanup, spray the inside of the slow cooker with no stick cooking spray before filling with ingredients.
  • Do not add cold water to slow cooker immediately after use as this could cause it to crack. Either add warm soapy water or let the slow cooker reach room temperature before cleaning.
  • Don’t fill it up. Your slow cooker should be one-half to two thirds full. If it’s too full, it will take too long to start simmering. If it’s not full enough, you risk overcooking.
  • Customize it. If you want to thicken the juices or concentrate flavours, remove the lid and cook on HIGH for the last 30 min.
  • Stick to the cooking time. Slow cookers work by simmering food at a low, even temperature, so adhere to the recipe.

I am a big fan of my slow cooker – easy, tasty meals can be made with minimum effort and time requirement, followng an easy recipe. I will be posting specific slow cooker recipes – subscribe and stay tuned!

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About the author

Hanna Trafford

Hanna is the mother of two grown sons Dan and Dusan Nedelko, and is also the Grandmother to Jax, Cohen and Mila. She is the lead editor of Mama Knows and is hoping to create an exchange of communications with other grandmothers, mothers and daughters - giving everyone the opportunity to learn and share about everything that is "Mama"

2comments
Kathy - January 23, 2010

Great tips! I’m a vegetarian and it can be hard to find meatless slow cooker recipes. I am posting my recipes on my blog to try and balance the field out.

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