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Slow Cooker Tips

Cooking tips for the caring cook.

Slow Cooker

Cooking with a slow cooker, or as some call them, a crock pot, can be very convenient. It can also help you serve up full, healthy and hearty meals without last minute fussing in the kitchen.

Here is the "but"...food doesn't always turn out the way it should in a slow cooker. Taste can come out bland or texture not too pleasant. Liquid does not evaporate in the slow cooker, raising the risks of ending up with a bland, watery dish. Using flavorful bases along with more herbs and spices than in conventional cooking will cure this problem.

Consider the following tips to ensure great food comes out of your slow cooker or crock pot.

Success With Your Slow Cooker

  • If your recipe calls for a large amount of liquid cut down a bit in the slow cooker to avoid watery meals.
  • One recipe test used chicken with the skin in the slow cooker. The results were better after removing the skin, since the skin became soggy when cooked in the slow cooker.
  • Use the instructions from your slow cooker as a guide for how long to cook meals, but keep in mind that cooking longer in a slow cooker does not usually cause negative results.
  • If you are preparing a meal that might stick in your slow cooker, be sure to spray your slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray before use to make cleanup of your slow cooker a breeze.
  • Choose the correct size slow-cooker for your recipe. For best results, a slow cooker should be from half to two-thirds full.
  • Cut roasts 3 pounds and over in half to ensure proper and even cooking.
  • Trim as much fat as possible from meat before placing it in the slow cooker to avoid greasy gravy.
  • Give your gravy more flavor by browning the meat first in a skillet. Then scrape all the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet and add to the slow cooker with the meat. Browning really helps to add flavor.
  • Salt tends to dissipate, especially as vegetables give up liquid. Try salting your dishes at the end to make sure they taste their best.
  • Some dishes can end up with quite a bit of liquid when slow cooking. The best thing to do is remove the meat and vegetables when they are done and place the liquid in a sauce pan. Heat over medium heat until you see the sauce thicken, about 5 to 10 minutes. This will also help to concentrate the flavors. Salt after this process so you don't get too much when the liquid evaporates.
  • Add herbs and spices toward the end of cooking time to help with flavor.
  • Unless required to add an ingredient, don't remove the lid during cooking. Each "sneak peek" loses a significant amount of heat and increases cooking time.

Did You Know?

You can even make liquids in your slow cooker like homemade broth and coconut milk. Coconut milk is very popular for those who eat a Paleolithic diet. Following is a recipe for homemade coconut milk using your slow cooker.

Freebie! Slow Cooker Time Chart

Click the image below to download a free PDF copy of the free Slow Cooker Time Conversion Chart.

Free Slow Cooker Time Conversion Chart

Homemade Slow Cooker Coconut Milk

8 ounce package of desiccated coconut
3 cups boiling water

Place coconut and water in a blender; blend for about 45 seconds. Line a strainer with 2 layers of cheesecloth. Pour the contents of the blender through the strainer into a large bowl. Pull the edges of the cheesecloth together and squeeze the remainder of the coconut milk out. Refrigerate the coconut milk and use within 1 to 2 days.

Note: You can purchase canned coconut milk, if desired. If you choose to, look for BPA free brands. However, homemade is still best because even most of the BPA free brands contain additional ingredients such as guar gum.

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