Slow cookers have long been a fixture in many people’s kitchens around the world, and are a really useful piece of kit for a variety of reasons.
Many people don’t really know how to utilize their slow cooker and get the best out of it, which is a shame because they can be so helpful.
Slow cookers can be really great at helping you save money, you can use cheaper cuts of meat which may be quite tough when cooked traditionally, but a slow cooker will help to make them tender.
Slow cookers are well suited for our busy lives, you can just put everything in before you go to work in the morning and have a warm, nutritious meal waiting for you when you get home.
Keep It Simple
There are so many recipes out there, and so many different ideas on what to cook in your slow cooker, ranging from the extremely simple to the very complicated.
Complicated recipes can be very satisfying to do when you have the time, but for day to day life, it helps to keep things as simple as possible.
If you can keep the preparation to a minimum, you won’t have to spend as much time each day making food, which is the reason most people purchase a slow cooker.
Some recipes are as simple as putting everything in and once, and leaving it for a few hours, it really can be that easy.
You can either prepare the ingredients before you leave the house in the morning, or you can prepare them the night before and put it all together in the morning. Fit your slow cooking around your schedule, and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it!
Prepare The Meat
As we discussed earlier, a huge benefit of a slow cooker is that you can choose a cheaper cut of meat than you might otherwise if you are cooking without a slow cooker.
Cheaper meat is often much tougher and chewier than the more expensive equivalent, but the long cooking time of a slow cooker really softens the meat allowing it to be much more tender.
However, cheaper cuts of meat are often fattier, so it’s a good idea to trim away the fat before cooking. This is because otherwise the fat will pool in the slow cooker, as it has nowhere to drain away to as it would if you were grilling or roasting the meat.
Doing this will make your dinner more pleasant, and have less calories, so it’s healthier for you too!
There are lots of recipes and blogs out there, such as corrie cooks, which can give you ideas on how to prepare the meat to ensure you have a delicious meal.
Keep The Lid On Until It’s Done
There is an urge, when cooking with a slow cooker to lift the lid up to peek inside to check how your dinner is doing.
However, this will really delay the cooking of your food, and could even dry out. Slow cookers are designed to keep the moisture in, which is also why you should not put too much liquid – the liquid you put in, should only just cover the ingredients.
Every time you open the lid, not only does the vapor escape, meaning there is less liquid in the cooker, the temperature inside the cooker will also drop, and it takes about half an hour for the temperature to climb back up to what it needs to be.
Only take the lid off when you absolutely have to, otherwise leave it alone.
Invest In A Non-Stick Spray
Slow cookers can be frustrating to clean afterwards, especially if you’ve cooked meat in them, the bottom of the cooker can require a lot of soaking and scrubbing.
There are many non-stick sprays available which you spray on the inner surfaces to prevent as much food adhering to the sides, and therefore makes cleaning easier.
There are also plastic liners which you can put in and simply throw away afterwards, however it is recommended to avoid these unless absolutely necessary. They are usually a single use plastic that can’t be recycled, and they are very bad for the planet, especially as we should all be trying to cut down on single use plastics.
Preheat Your Slow Cooker
A slow cooker needs preheating just like a traditional oven. Lots of people are unaware it needs heating beforehand, and don’t do it.
Putting food into a cold cooker will mean it takes longer to cook it. It’s easy to put it on to warm up whilst you prepare the ingredients, and once you are finished, the slow cooker should be ready to go.
Not Everything Has To Go In At The Beginning
Most recipes with a slow cooker, all the ingredients are added at the beginning and you leave it well alone.
However, some things are better added just at the end. For example, peas only need a few minutes cooking, and will disintegrate if added at the beginning.
Fresh herbs should also be added at the end of cooking so they can add the flavor that may otherwise not be apparent if they are added right at the beginning of cooking.
Cream or milk should also be added near the end, they can curdle if added at the beginning and cooked for hours, so add them about twenty minutes before the end.
Should You Get A Slow Cooker?
Every kitchen should have a slow cooker. They are so convenient, they keep all the vitamins and minerals in, so you get the full benefits from your food.
They don’t use much energy at all. Slow cookers use much less energy than a traditional oven, even if a slow cooker is left on for many hours, it will still only use a fraction of the energy an oven uses in an hour, which is good for your pocket and good for the environment.
Because a slow cooker uses, such a low amount of energy, they are very safe to leave running for long periods of time.