Crockpot Cooking Guide
Cooking with a crockpot brings the joy back to food. The crockpot is a versatile appliance that offer limitless opportunities for cooking. Slow cookers are not just for soups and stews, you can also bake breads and cakes, roast meat, steam vegetables and serve up some hot apple cidar in a crockpot.
Slow cooking food is healthy. The slow cooking process retains more nutrients than many other methods of cooking. Slow cookers usually have two settings – high and low. The low setting is equivalent to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit, while the high setting is about 300 degrees.
Slow cookers heat up slowly, taking two to three hours to get up to their highest temperature. This ensures that the food retains nutrients and prevents scorching or burning. Because slow cookers cook by indirect heat, you never have to stir the food to make sure it’s evenly cooked.
A real slow cooker has a crockery insert that warms up evenly, spreading the heat evenly throughout the food. A device that provides heat only from the bottom to a metal container is not a slow cooker.
Slow cookers come in many shapes and sizes. Virtually all of them come in pleasing colors to fit in any kitchen decor. With so many different styles to choose from, how do you pick the one that’s right for you?
Choosing a Crock Pot
~ If your a small family you might want to start with the midsize and most versatile type of slow cooker. The 2 1/2 quart version is still the most popular for first-time buyers.
~ If you are routinely gone for more than nine hours during the day, you might want to consider one with the automatic timer and warming function included.
~ If you don’t like to spend a lot of time washing pots and pans, consider a slow cooker with a removable crockery insert. These can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
What a Slow Cooker Won’t Do
There are a few things that a slow cooker can’t do. Because it cooks foods over several hours, it won’t brown meats and vegetables. For that reason, some recipes ask you to brown the meat, garlic and onions before putting them into the crockpot.
Any recipe that requires quick cooking or high heat isn’t well suited to a slow cooker. You can’t deep-fry or parboil anything. Milk products also offer special challengers for crockpots. Some cheeses will separate when cooked over the long term and most milk products will turn brown. There’s a reason many slow-cooker recipes call for condensed cream soups instead of “real” cream or whole milk – the cooking process in canned soups stabilizes the milk so it doesn’t react to lengthy cooking times.
Rice and pastas also add special challenges when slow cooking, because they tend to absorb too much water when cooked over long periods. Many recipes may ask you to add these items later in the cooking process.