Home / Food Articles / Tips for using a slow cooker

Tips for using a slow cooker

tips for using a slow cooker
Loading 

Written by:

Dark winter evenings call for hearty stews, and slow cookers are the perfect way to create healthy comfort food without spending ages slaving over the cooker. As well as being a healthy way to cook, slow cookers also take a lot of effort out of making meals, are economical, inexpensive and easy to use. Here are some tips for using a slow cooker.

Let it do the work for you

When used on a low setting, slow cookers can be left all day so your evening meal can be cooking while you’re at work. Prepare the meat and vegetables the night before and just throw it all in before you leave for work in the morning. Then when you get home all you have to do is serve.

Experiment

Some people like to fry onions and brown meat before tossing them into the slow cooker while others are happy just to let the cooker do its thing. Try out both ways and see which one you prefer. Liquid and sauces placed in a slow cooker don’t thicken in the same way as they would in a traditional pan on the hob so try adding a little corn flour to the mixture towards the end. Alternatively, you could transfer the meal onto the hob for the final few minutes. Again, it’s a case of personal preference so experiment and see what works best for you.

When to add food

Meat and vegetables can be added at the beginning of the cooking process, but there are some things you should hold off with. Herbs and spices can lose some of their flavour in a slow cooker, so add a little more in the last hour of cooking. You’ll also want to hold off adding dairy products as these can curdle or go oily. If you want to use crème fraiche, milk or cheese, wait until the dish is almost fully cooked before stirring them in.

Save money

As they are energy efficient, slow cookers are cheaper to run than traditional ovens. Also, less expensive tougher cuts of meat still come out tender when slow cooked so are perfect for making stews and casseroles with.

tips for using a slow cooker

Don’t touch

Slow cookers aren’t designed to be checked every half hour. For each time you open the lid you need to add around 10 minutes to the cooking time. As long as you’ve added enough fluid (just enough to cover the contents) then food won’t stick to the dish and the cooker will do its job properly. If you must check how your food is doing, then opt for a slow cooker with a glass lid so you can keep an eye on it without opening it and letting the heat escape.

Things to avoid

While slow cookers can be a convenient way of cooking, there are a couple of things you should avoid doing. Firstly, never use frozen food in a slow cooker. For food safety reasons all food should be thoroughly defrosted before you start cooking. Secondly, many slow cookers have ceramic dishes and glass lids, which can crack or break when subjected to extremes of temperature. Avoid placing a hot dish on a cold surface and once the cooker is hot, don’t place very cold foods inside.

Be creative

Contrary to what many believe slow cookers aren’t just for stews and soups. In fact, you can cook just about anything in one, from rice dishes and curries to desserts. Slow cooked sponge pudding is delicious!

 

 

Share

Comments

About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

View all posts by