Slow Cooker Basics

Slowcooker Basics | Stay at Home MumIf you take good care of your slow cooker – it will last you a lifetime!  There are a few little tips and tricks to keeping it in good running order, and get the very best out of it – so we thought today we would go through a few for you!

Slow cookers heat your food very slowly over a long period of time and because most slow cooker foods are full of stocks, spices and sauces and there is very little evaporation, foods are full of flavour.  It is however easy to overcook food in a slowcooker and it can then become tough, all taste the same or become stringy.

Top Slowcooker Tips:

  • For the best cooking results with slowcookers, make sure it is at least half to three-quarters full.  You can always freeze what you don’t eat!
  • Try not to take the lid off too often (unless the recipe requires it).  It takes 20 minutes for the slowcooker to regain that lost heat which means your food takes even longer to cook.
  • Most slowcooker recipes only require a very small amount of liquid.  Don’t be tempted to add more, liquids don’t evaporate in the slowcooker and meats tend to make more liquid adding to the taste and moistness of the dish.
  • Hard vegetables such as carrots and potatoes take a lot longer to cook in the slowcooker than meat does.  Place these vegetables on the bottom of the slowcooker (closest to the heat) so they cook through.

Frequently Asked Questions About Slow Cookers:

1.  What is the best slowcooker to buy?

In my opinion, they are all pretty much alike these days.  They all do the same job.  A more important question would be what size?  I’m always for the ‘bigger is better’ with slowcookers because you can make a huge meal and freeze portions for the nights you don’t feel like cooking.  But judge the size by the space you have available and the size of your family.

There is a few new ones on the market that are a frypan and slowcooker in one – and I’ve even seen a deep fryer, frypan and slowcooker in one – but with these built in gadgets comes added expenses – so weight up what you really need.

2.  What size slowcooker should I get?

The biggest one you can afford!

3.  Does the Slowcooker need preheating?

Some of the older models (pre year 2000) might need to be preheated.  But as a rule no.

4.  Do I need to brown my meat before placing it in the slowcooker?

Browning your meat first does add colour and flavour – but it certainly isn’t essential.  I would recommend it for more expensive cuts if you are using them (like lamb shanks for example), but not smaller cuts.  Some of the more modern slowcookers have a sear function so you don’t need to dirty another dish if you do decide to brown the meat first.

5.  Can I place frozen food in my slowcooker?

No.  The slowcooker cooks slowly – so frozen food has a hard time regulating the heat.  There is a greater risk of food poisoning if you place your food in frozen – and we wouldn’t want you to get sick!

5.  How full should my slowcooker be?

Slowcookers typically need to be at least half full to work efficiently.  You can fill them up to about 2cm underneath the lid – so they really hold a lot of food.

 

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