Using a slow cooker is easy but you need to know more about it – the temperature, timer, warming function, recipes, and more. The secret to sumptuous meals is not a slow cooker brand or recipe but using it the right way.
Know more about slow cookers and how to use them by reading this article.
Using a slow cooker – the temperature and timer
Slow cookers usually have three settings: low, medium, and high. Depending on the length of time, the simmer point has a temperature of approximately 209 degrees.
On a low setting, this simmer point usually takes around seven to eight hours, and three to four hours on a high setting. You don’t have to wait for the simmer point to tell if the recipe is ready to eat.
It has to reach around 160 degrees, which can be reached in around less three hours.
Sometimes, slow cookers may come with a timer, either digital or manual. Mechanical slow cookers usually only have temperature settings without a timer.
Therefore, you have to constantly check on your recipe and turn it off when the cooking time is done.
Recipes cooked using a slow cooker are supposed to be cooked at lower temperatures for at least seven hours. If a particular recipe requires eight hours of slow cooking, do it. It’s better to wait than take a chance and cook for a shorter amount of time at a higher temperature.
However, there are some rules that you can break. A recipe that calls for a high setting for four or more hours can be changed to low setting for longer hours.
Generally, setting the slow cooker at a lower setting for longer hours extracts the best flavor in a recipe, specifically the meat.
Using a slow cooker – the warming function
Slow cookers have a built in warming function to keep the food warm after its cooking time. Some more advanced, or programmable slow cookers, are built with timers that automatically shift to a warming function once the timer goes off.
If you go out for longer hours, you want to come home to warm food in the slow cooker. This warming function is a good feature to look for a slow cooker.
Using a slow cooker – tips on recipes
Using a slow cooker is not simply dumping all the ingredients into the pot and turning on the temperature and timer. Using a slow cooker may be very easy even for novice cooks, but here are some useful tips when cooking recipes using a slow cooker.
Sear the meat first before putting it into the slow cooker pot.
Although searing the meat adds time in the preparation, doing so will add a unique taste and appearance to the recipe. How to sear the meat?
In a large skillet, pour in a small amount of olive oil or canola oil. Heat the meat on it for around two minutes or until it turns brown on all sides.
Use small amount of liquid
Using a slow cooker means adding only 50 % liquid of traditional recipes. Unless you are cooking soups and sauces, add only half of the original amount of liquid required for the recipe.
This is because evaporation occurs at very little quantity in a slow cooker compared to other cooking appliances such as stovetops or ovens.
Keep the slow cooker covered.
To keep a consistent temperature and timing, keep the slow cooker covered. Avoid occasional stirring or peaking. If you need to stir, do it quickly.
Most slow cookers have transparent lids so you don’t have to pick them up. The lost heat takes up to 20 minutes to recover when the cover is removed.
Cut food in equal pieces.
Evenly cut ingredients so that meat and vegetables are cooked in a uniform manner. They are cooked at the same length of time; no piece is left overcooked or undercooked.
Do not add milk at the start of the cooking process.
Using a slow cooker can curdle dairy products and make aged cheese become oily. That is when these ingredients are added at the beginning of the cooking process.
You might want to substitute milk with canned condensed or evaporated milk or add the dairy products in the last 60 minutes of cooking.
You need to know more about using slow cookers. This cooking appliance is easy to use but you need to consider the recipes. Some recipes are cooked differently with slow cookers.