Have you discovered the world of slow cookers? Are you wondering if you should get one yourself? Well, I’ve been using slow cookers for 5 years now and they have totally changed how we eat at home.Not only do I not have to worry about being home to cook but I know that they’ll be a healthy cooked meal for all the family to eat.For me it means spending extra time with my kids after school or having a longer walk out in the countryside on weekends.They are very cheap to run, the cost for having a slow cooker on for 6 -8 hours is the equal to having a low watt light bulb being on all night.Vegetarians and vegans shouldn’t feel left out, I have made many meals with great success without meat.
As I’m a parent with 3 kids, I have a 3.5 litre Crock Pot© which is an oval shape.I also have two more slow cookers, one from Asda and the other from Sainsbury’s but sadly the stoneware pots have cracked and I no longer use them at the moment.They are on my list of things to replace as having more than one is a brilliant way to have a 3 course meal, soup, main meal and pudding all on the go at once.
How big, how much and settings
Depending on the size of your family, you’ll need to buy when that suites your needs.During the winter months I used double up on recipes with two slow cookers on the go, so I can have a batch of whatever I’m cooking in the freezer.This saves time and money by not cooking twice and if the weather gets bad I don’t need to worry about getting into town.Larger slow cookers can hold double ingredients, see tip 2 below.
Family of 3-4 you’ll need a 3.5 litres capacity.
Family of 4-5 you’ll need a 4.7 litres capacity.
Family of 5-6 you’ll need a 5.7 litres capacity.
Family of 6-8 you’ll need a 6.5 litres capacity.
Prices differ from model to model depending on features, most have LOW, HIGH and keep warm settings.Some come with timers or separate compartments.My Asda slow cooker was just under £20, whilst my Sainsbury’s was £25 and my CrockPot© £45.
My CrockPot© is the only one of my three that has a warm setting, this I like as it means when making a meal or hot drinks, it can be kept warm without ruining it.
10 Top Tips For Using A slow cooker tips
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions.It seems obvious but it’s a great starting point on knowing what your particular slow cooker can do, along with safety advice.
- Never over fill your slow cooker.It should be half to 3/4 full to cook at its proper temperature.You can double recipes is slow cookers over 5.7 capacity.
- The sides of the slow cooker get hot, be wary of where it is being put if you have small children in particular toddlers who can pull on cords or burn their hands on the outside.
- When converting conventional recipes to use in the slow cooker beware that you’ll need a lot less liquid.Reduce the amount of liquid (by about a third usually) since it won’t boil off as it does in the oven or on the hob.Thanks to Lucy from Baking Queen for the amendment.
- CrockPot is a brand name of slow cooker, outside the U.K they are usually referred to CrockPots whether they are made by the company or not.
- Don’t store any food in your slow cooker, uncooked or cooked.The stoneware insert will become too cold to use when cooking uncooked food and crack.It’ll also slow the cooking process.Cooked food should always be placed in another container after cooking and never reheat food in the slow cooker.
- Removing the lid too many times during cooking will lengthen the cooking time and reduce the temperature.Cooked food should be above 74ºC (164ºF).
- Never use frozen food in a slow cooker, always thaw it first.It’ll take too long to reach the required temperature to cook and will encourage bacteria growth if added frozen.
- Browning meats and vegetables before placing in the slow cooker is best.Not only does it add colour to ingredients but releases flavours and enriching the taste.Keep vegetables small and place them at the bottom of the pot before adding meat.
- Slow cookers aren’t just for stews, casseroles and rice pudding.They can make soups, pasta and rice dishes, puddings, cakes, hot drinks, fondue and even be used for soap making.
Looking for inspiration or want to share your recipes and knowledge?
Join the slow cooker Facebook group All Things Slow Cooking.
Join the slow cooker Google+ community All Things Slow Cooking.
Follow my slow cooker Pinterest boards- Follow The Sassy Slow Cooker’s board Slow Cooker Goodness on Pinterest.