Tips for Cooking in Slow Cookers

Tips for Cooking in Slow Cookers
Tips for Cooking in Slow Cookers
Tips for Cooking in Slow Cookers
This document is intended to provide general
tips and guidelines for cooking in slow cookers also known as crockpots. These tips are not
specific to any particular brand or model of slow
cooker.
As with many appliances, practise and a
preparedness to experiment are among your
most helpful tools!
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A SLOW COOKER
A removable liner/cooking bowl - much easier
to clean than a non-removable one.
A non-stick liner/cooking bowl means less
elbow-grease will be required when you are
cleaning up.
GENERAL TIPS
Line your cooking bowl with a cooking bag for a
super-easy clean up. Or spray with a little
cooking oil.
One hour on HIGH is roughly equivalent to two
hours on LOW.
Ceramic slow cooker bowls can crack if exposed
to sudden temperature changes. When
removing the bowl from your slow cooker, do not
place the bowl straight on to a cold bench; place
it on a folded tea towel or cloth. If you have had
the bowl in the refrigerator, do not place it
directly into the slow cooker from the fridge.
FOOD SAFETY TIPS
It’s advised to cook on HIGH for the first hour to
ensure
that
food
reaches
minimum
temperatures to be safe.
Many recommend that you do not place frozen
foods in a slow cooker. Defrost before cooking.
If you are going to refrigerate food after cooking
in a slow cooker, you must remove it from the
liner/cooking pan and place it in a suitable food
storage
container.
Your
slow
cooker
liner/cooking bowl will not cool down quickly
enough and food will remain in the unsafe
temperature zone for too long and harmful
bacteria may grow.
Tips for Cooking in Slow Cookers
COOKING TIPS
Do not fill your slow cooker more than two thirds
full. If you over fill the slow cooker, foods will not
cook properly. If the slow cooker does not have
enough food and liquid in it, food will over cook.
Foods that are immersed in liquid cook faster
and will be more moist.
Fatty foods tend to cook faster so it is wise to
remove poultry skin, excess meat fat etc. If not
removed, the fats dissolve in the cooking liquid
and can give the cooked food a texture that is
unpleasant to eat.
If you wish to thicken cooking liquid, turn the unit
to HIGH for the last half hour of cooking and
also remove the lid for this time.
Cheaper cuts of meat are better in the slow
cooker as they have less fat. However most
meats need about 8 hours of cooking on LOW;
this gives a more tender result.
Layer your ingredients so that the ones that
require more cooking are in the BOTTOM of the
slow cooker.
DO NOT lift the lid to check the food. Each time
you lift the lid, heat escapes and this can add
many minutes to your overall cooking time … as
much as 15-20 minutes per lift lid.
Resist the urge to stir unless your recipe advises
to do so. It is generally not necessary to stir
when using a slow cooker.
Minced meats are best if first browned in a
frypan on the stove top, before placing in slow
cooker.
Large pieces of meat can also be browned
before placing in slow cooker. This isn’t
absolutely necessary but browning does add
flavour and colour.
Seafood does not take long to cook and should
be added towards the end of your cooking
time … about one hour. Overcooked seafood
has a rubbery texture.
Sauteing vegetables before cooking in the slow
cooker also adds more flavour.
Soft vegetables like mushrooms, courgettes,
tomatoes etc do not take long to cook. Add them
about 45 minutes before end of cooking.
Dairy products are best added about 15-30
minutes from end of cooking, unless you are
using a recipe that has other instructions. Dairy
products tend to break down in slow cookers
and adding them at the end of cooking will help
prevent this.
Some items like cayenne pepper and tabasco
sauce can become bitter if cooked for too long.
Add these towards the end of cooking time, and
use quite small amounts.
Spices tend to lose flavour if cooked for too long
with the other ingredients so add towards end of
cooking time … during the last hour.
Herbs are best when you use whole leaves and
use about half the amount you would use for a
conventional recipe. If using ground herbs, add
them in the last hour of cooking.
If you are using a recipe that was not developed
for slow cooker use, you will need less liquid.
This is because liquids to not evaporate in the
same way that they do for other methods of
cooking. Reduce liquid by a third to a half …
unless you are cooking rice or making soup, in
which case use your recipe as is.
Dusting meat in flour before placing in slow
cooker will give you a thicker sauce.
If you are cooking at high altitudes, you need to
allow about 30 extra minutes for each hour
specified in the recipe. Legumes take about
twice as long to cook at high altitudes.
Trim excess fat off meat. Fat retains heat better
than water does so fattier foods like meat cook
faster than less fatty foods eg vegetables. If you
are cooking meat and vegetables together in
your slow cooker, try placing veges on the
bottom and sides and meat on top.
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