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Cooking can be fun and therapeutic, but it gets tedious very fast as we need to do it every day. Knowing how to use a slow cooker can be a game-changer. No other cooking method can compare to the amount of convenience that slow cookers provide. Using a slow cooker, one can cook without doing too much work. You just put all the ingredients in the pot, switch it on, and at the end of the day, you’ll have a warm, hearty meal waiting for you and your family.
The slow cooker market is on the rise and it is expected to reach 2.8 billion dollars by 2027. This steady rise of slow cookers indicates their popularity. Due to its easy-to-use style, it has remained one of the most popular kitchenware month after month.
But before one can cook tasty foods in it, he or she needs to know how to use the cooker properly. In this blog article, we will guide you step-by-step, till you know the ins and outs of using a slow cooker. So grab your slow cooker and get started.
Slow Cooker: What Is It?
A slow cooker, commonly known as a crock-pot, is a compact electric cooker that uses a low temperature for an extended period of time to cook the food.
It is divided into three parts:
- An oval-shaped pot made out of ceramic or porcelain.
- A metal case with an electric heating coil inside of it.
- A lid, either made of glass or metal.
There are various types of slow cookers out there in the wild and finding out which one is most suitable for you can be hard. Knowing which one to buy can make the difference between a flavorless meal and a richly flavored meal.
You can find out about the best slow cookers available to buy by reading our roundup article.
10 Simple Steps to Use a Slow Cooker
As all slow cookers are about plugging in and forgetting about it, learning how to use one is fairly simple and easy.
Here are 10 simple steps that you can follow to master cooking with a slow cooker:
Step 1: Get the Ingredients Ready
Prepare your ingredients before going to bed. This will allow you to cook the meal during the next work day.
Chop vegetables according to your needs, but remember to cut them uniformly so they can cook evenly. If your recipe specifies that you need to cook your vegetables for 6 hours or more, you should cut them into larger chunks. But if you want smaller, firmer bits, add the vegetables later in the cooking process.
Fry your meat a little before adding it to the pot. Frying the meat in a pan with olive oil will keep the meat’s exquisite flavor intact. Make sure the meat is brown on both sides.
Use fatty parts of the meat, such as chicken thighs and pork shoulders. These are cheaper than filets, breasts, and chops. The long and slow cooking time allows the fat to be released into the meat, making it as tasty as expensive cuts.
Use fewer spices and herbs in the pot, as the long cooking time makes strong spices stronger and spicier. This is especially important if you are modifying a regular recipe to cook in a slow cooker.
Microwave or heat the sauce for a minute before putting it in the slow cooker. This will ensure that the sauce is mixed properly. Doing this also cuts down cooking time.
Step 2: Plug in the Slow Cooker
You usually don’t need to fiddle too much with your slow cooker to get it working. Just plug in the slow cooker, switch it on, and you’re good to go.
Step 3: Add the Prepared Ingredients
Place all the vegetables and meat that you had cut the night before in the pot. Vegetables typically take a little bit longer to cook than meat. If your recipe requires both, stack the bottom of your slow cooker with vegetables and place your meat on top of them.
Your slow cooker should be filled at least half but no more than three-quarters full for your food to cook evenly.
Step 4: Put the Lid on
Now put the lid on. If your slow cooker has a lock, use it to keep it closed.
Do not take the lid off, as it will increase cooking time.
Step 5: Select Your Preferred Heating Temperature
Most slow cookers these days are programmable. Select the appropriate temperature for the food you are cooking from the device’s menu.
Setting the temperature to “low” can make the cooker slowly cook the food throughout the day. Selecting a “high” temperature profile will significantly cut down cooking time. You can relax. A slow cooker uses very little electricity, so this isn’t an issue.
Step 6: Set Timer if Required
If your device has a built-in timer, you should use it according to the recipe you are following. If your device doesn’t have one, you have to time it yourself.
Step 7: Wait for the Cooking to Complete
Now that your slow cooker is working its magic, you can go about your day and forget about it.
Step 8: Keep the Cooker to Warm Setting
Apply the “keep warm” setting from the device’s menu once your dish has cooked. This will keep your food warm till you are ready to serve it.
Step 9: Open the Lid to Serve the Food
Now carefully lift the lid and enjoy your meal.
Step 10: Clean the Slow Cooker
Always remember to unplug your slow cooker and let it cool down before cleaning.
If there is any leftover food stuck to the inner pot, soak it in warm soapy water for 5 to 10 minutes. Do not use scouring pads to clean the pot, as it may damage the surface.
If the heating base is clean, wiping it with a dry piece of cloth will be enough. If somehow the food spilled into it, try to clean it with a soft piece of cloth dipped in warm, soapy water and wipe it dry afterward.
If you keep it clean regularly, it’s guaranteed to serve you for a very long time.
Few Tips to Remember
Learning how to use a slow cooker is easy, but mastering it can be challenging for some.
Here are a few tips to make your life easier with a slow cooker:
- Don’t cook food using the ‘warm’ setting.
- Keep the lid in place during cooking. Removing the lid slows down cooking time.
- Do not put frozen meat in the slow cooker. Thaw the meat before putting it in the slow cooker.
- Soft vegetables such as tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, etc. should be added near the end of cooking time. This will make sure that they don’t overcook and turn mushy.
Slow cookers are energy-efficient electric kitchen appliances that are becoming increasingly popular for they steam your ingredients in a sealed pan, without drying them out and preserving their flavors, odors, and nutrients.
Now that you have learned how to use a slow cooker to cook, you too can enjoy nutrient-rich food and avoid impulsive decisions to order takeout.
Hope this article was able to provide you with information about the slow cooker you required. Thank you for reading. Have a blast cooking your favorite meal.