If you are lucky enough to have slow cookers in your home, you will understand just how useful they can be at cooking food quickly and effectively. However, not everyone knows how to use these ultimate kitchen accessories effectively, which can frustrate them. Thankfully, here at DID, we are always open to helping you explore new ways to use your home appliances, and below, we have a quick and easy guide on how to use your slow cooker effectively. (We even have a couple of DO’S and DON’TS included that may answer some important questions).
Slow cookers have a range of great features, from different sizes, to heat settings and easy clean programs. Here are 4 of our personal favourite settings that we think every slow cooker should have:
Pre-Programmed Cooking Times:Having a pre-programmed cooking time setting on your slow cooker is a great feature. With this setting, you can set the exact cooking time you want, and when it has finished cooking, it will either turn off the heat or turn it to a warm setting. Something like this is perfect if you are running late or always forgetting that you have food cooking.
Rubber Linings around the Lid of the Cooker:Many new slow cooker models have rubber lining around the lids. This is a great way for the cooker to retain heat and stops heat from escaping. It also stops the lid from clanking when transporting the cooker around.
Easy to clean inserts: We use slow cookers for convenience; we use them because they lessen the workload. So why would we want to spend the time that we are saving cooking by cleaning? What’s the point? Slow cookers that have an easy-to-clean enamel insert are a godsend because they are super-easy to clean. All you need to do is soak a cloth with warm soapy water, and you should be good to go.
Do’s and Don’ts
In case you didn’t know, certain rules should be followed when using slow cookers. Here is a small selection of DO’s and DON’ts that we think you should follow:
Consider browning the food before you place it into the slow cooker. This will create more flavour and ensure that the meat/food is at the optimal cooking temperature.
Cut larger vegetables into smaller chunks so that they cook evenly
Look to add the likes of tender vegetables, seafood, and pasta towards the end of the cooking process so that you avoid making it mushy or curdling them.
Use wooden or plastic utensils to stir or serve food from the cooker because using steel utensils may scratch the cooker or its accessories.
Add frozen food into your slow cooker
Add too much liquid – use only a little liquid because very little evaporation occurs in a slow cooker
Lift the lid while the cooker is cooking because you could lose heat and moisture. This will extend the cooking time.
Reheat food in the slow cooker – instead, look to reheat foods in a microwave or on a stovetop if you must.
Slow Cookers vs Pressure Cookers
Finally, let’s look at the difference between slow and pressure cookers because it seems that many people confuse the two.
Slow cookers use a slow and more gentle cooking process that can take quite a long time. These longer cooking times have their advantages, though, because they will keep your dish from overcooking or drying out. On the other hand, pressure cookers are much quicker in their cooking times, and using very high heat and pressure, they can cook food quicker than slow cookers. Both have their own pros and cons, and both are super-useful to have in the kitchen. So whichever one you want to choose is up to you.
Can I put raw meat in a slow cooker?
In short, yes, you can. Raw meat is safe to put into a slow cooker; the best thing is, you don’t need to add any liquid or oil to enable it to cook better or more evenly. Most of the time, you can simply add raw meat that is diced, cubed, stripped, or whole into your slow cooker, and you are good to go.
How long does it take to slow cook chicken?
When slow cooking chicken, the aim is always to get it to reach a temperature of 165 degrees F. The juice should also be running clear instead of pink (obviously). If you are cooking the chicken on high heat, it should take about 3 hours, and on low heat it should take between 6-8 hours.
Can I put frozen chicken into a slow cooker?
Cooking meat in a slow cooker while still frozen is not recommended as it takes a long time for the meat to reach cooking temperature. This increases the chance of food-borne illnesses. It is always recommended to defrost meat in the fridge before cooking it in the slow cooker. This applies to all meats, from chicken to beef.
Are slow cookers cheap to run?
Yes! Your slow cooker is cheaper to run than a standard single oven, making them a great alternative if you are looking to reduce your energy usage. On their low setting, your slow cooker could use as little as 150 watts per hour. Making them the perfect kitchen appliances for creating tasty winter warmer meals but helping you to keep your electricity bills down.