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Top Facts about Slow Cookers
They are economical, as they generally use less energy to cook
the same amount of food as other methods. The heat produced is also
much less, which is great in summer.
You can use a slow cooker to prepare a really healthy tasty
meal, as they don't usually require oil, and can be made up mostly
of fresh veggies- with lean meat added if desired- with herbs and
spices to create a wide variety of flavours.
Pre-plan for a busy schedule by chopping up the ingredients the
night before and storing directly in the stoneware bowl, in the
fridge, ready to cook the next day.
The extreme slow cooking results in tougher (cheaper) meat cuts
ending up lovely and tender.
The low cooking temperature allows you more freedom in when you
eat, as it doesn't tend to overcook or burn the meal, so it can stay
hot until your family or guests are ready to eat.
All the delicious juices remain in the dish. Healthy vegetable
water isn't lost in draining, as in when cooked in a saucepan.
Unless instructed to do so by a recipe, don't lift the lid of
your slow cooker as they take a while to reach the proper
temperature, and this is lost when the lid is removed. Also, a lot
of necessary moisture can also be lost.
You should fill your slow cooker about one third to half full
for optimum cooking.
A lot of root vegetables are slower to cook than meat, so should
be placed in the bottom of the slow cooker. Quicker cooking
ingredients, such as seafood, frozen veggies, quick cook veggies
such as broccoli and dairy, should always be on top, and usually
only added for the last half hour or so.
Try to cut your ingredients in similar size pieces- or allow for
size variation depending on required cooking time of each
ingredient- so that they will cook in the same timespan.
Meats are often better browned quickly in a frypan first,
especially if you want the browned appearance in your meal.
Begin your cooking on a high heat, to get the slow cooker up to
temperature (which is important especially if meat is being cooked)
and then reduce heat for the remainder of the time.
Never pour cold water straight into a hot slow cooker bowl to
clean as it may crack. Add warm water or allow to cool first.
Slow Cooker Safety Tips
- When purchasing a slow cooker, look for one with a removable liner. They
are much easier to clean. If you have a non-removable liner, however, all is
not lost! Line your slow cooker with a cooking bag and you'll have no cleanup
at all. Spray the inside of the liner with cooking spray before you fill it
to make cleanup easier.
- 60C is the temperature the food needs to reach as quickly as possible.
If you are at home during the cooking times, test the food temperature after
four hours of cooking on LOW - the temp should be at least 60C.
- For food safety reasons, it's a good idea to cook on HIGH for the first
hour to quickly bring the temperature up to 60C. Then turn the dial to
LOW and finish cooking.
- Experts recommend you do not put frozen foods in the slow cooker. All
foods should be defrosted before cooking so the food temperature can reach
60C as soon as possible. However, since none of my family members are
in a high-risk group, I often cook frozen foods in the slow cooker. The
informed choice is up to you.
- Remove cooked food from the slow cooker or liner before you refrigerate the
cooked food. Because the liner is made of such thick material, the food
won't cool down quickly enough to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
Tips & Interesting Information about Slow