Monday, September 8, 2008

Crock Pot Tips

In my crock pot book that I get most of my crock pot recipes are tips on using the crock pot as well as some secrets to making things easier and more flavorful or on the other hand not too flavorful. I thought I would share them with you in case there are somethings you didn't know or that might make your experience with the crock pot more pleasurable. Some of these tips you may have already known but hopefully I give you at least one tip you didn't know that might help in your slow cooker experience.

1. Leave the lid on while the slow cooker cooks. The steam that condenses on the lid helps cook the food from the top. Every time you take the lid off, the cooker loses steam. After you put the lid back on, it takes 20 minutes to regain the lost steam and temperature. That means it takes longer for the food to cook.

2. A slow cooker is great for taking food to a potluck even if you didn't prepare it in the cooker.

3. The great thing about using a slow cooker in hot weather is that it doesn't heat up you kitchen like an oven does.


5. A slow cooker provides enough warmth to raise dough.

6. You may want to revise herb amounts when using a slow cooker. Whole herbs and spices INCREASE their flavoring power, while ground spices tend to lose some flavor. It's a good idea to season to taste before serving.

7. Most slow cookers perform best when more than half full.

8. Milk products such as cream, milk, and sour cream can curdle and separate when cooked for long periods of time. Add them during the last 10 minutes if cooking on high or during the last 20-30 if cooking on low.

9. Liquids don't boil down in a slow cooker. At the end of the cooking time, remove the cover, set dial to high and allow liquid to evaporate, if the dish is soup-ier than you want.

10. To get the best flavor, saute vegetables or brown meat before placing in slow cooker to cook.

11. Roasting bags work well in the slow cooker. Simply fill with meat and vegetables and cook as directed in slow cooker recipes. Follow manufacturer's directions for filling and sealing bags.

12. When cooking meats and vegetables together, especially when cooking on low, place the vegetables on the bottom where they will be kept moist.

13. If cooked rice is called for, stir in raw rice with the other ingredients. Add 1 cup extra liquid per cup of raw rice. Use long grain converted rice for best results in all day cooking.

14. Put your cooker meal together the night before you want to cook it. The following morning put the mixture in the slow cooker, cover and cook.

15. "high" on most slow cookers is approximately 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Low is approximately 200 degrees.

16. A slow cooker set on low does not burn food and will not spoil a meal if cooked beyond it's designated cooking time.

17. Cooked pasta and rice should be added the last 1-1 1/2 hrs of cooking time to prevent them from disintegrating.

18. Decrease onion amount when adapting range top recipes to slow cooker recipes because the onion flavor usually gets stronger.

19. You can use a 2 lb coffee can, 2 -1 lb coffee cans, 2 16 oz vegetable cans, a 6-7 cup mold, or a 1 1/2 qt baking dish for "baking" cakes in a slow cooker. Leave the cooker lid slightly open to let extra moisture escape.