Slow cooking

Slow cooking in the crock pot really makes food tender and moist, specially tough cuts of meat, and you can set your meal ahead.

The slow cooker is one great tool that can play to your advantage. Slow cooking in the crock pot really makes food tender and moist, specially tough cuts of meat, and you can set your meal ahead.

Slow but steady wins the race

Slow and steady cooking can really amplify the juices and flavors of food making those taste buds go crazy. A crock pot cooks your food very slowly, infusing the flavors and all the while being left unattended. This allows more free time. But is everything about slow cooking good? Let's check out the highs and lows and see if we can figure it out.

The highs

Everybody hates when the house gets all smoky and hot while dinner is cooking. That's just one of the many pluses of using a slow cooker. Because of its design it keeps smoke in the pot and the heat around your food not around your house.

A lot of foods benefit from being slow cooked. A good example would be those "cheaper" cuts of meat. They are going to be more suitable for being stewed because long slow cooking (simmering) will soften not toughen the meat. Boiling takes away all the muscle and enhances the meat giving it that mouth watering taste.

Another plus with slow cooking is that it eliminates overcooking foods and keeps food from becoming bland. With a crock pot it's off to work while your dinner is cooking at the same time. Talk about multi tasking.

In today's work crock pot cooking is the norm for many. Just a few ideas of things that can be made in the crock pot include: Pot roasts, meatballs, ham, turkey, stews, soups, chili, dips, vegetables, fruits and even desserts.

This is also a safer method of cooking. Since you're using a lower temperature to cook the food it's not going to be such a hazard. The lid stays over the food so there is no popping, sizzling or chances of someone being burnt. There are times when slow cookers aren't always safe. There is a possibility that the ceramic could crack or steam can escape but that is a very low possibility.

The lows

When you slow cook food many of the vitamins and nutrients get lost. This occurs mostly when cooking vegetables. Slow cookers cook below the boiling point. More often than not vegetables have already been exposed to some form of water. Sitting them in more water and cooking them slowly can promote the loss of the nutrients our bodies need.

Another downfall of slow cooking is that is does take a long time until your food is ready to eat. If you're looking for something quick then a slow cooker isn't going to be your best bet.

It also presents a challenge when trying to cook all your food equally although there is a way around this. When cooking stews and soups there are many ingredients involved and everything is cooking at different speeds. Vegetables take longer to cook than meat, since the crock pot is a long slow cooking process the vegetables should be added in first then the meat second. This will give vegetables a head start and keep them cooking right along with that cut of meat.

There are highs and lows when it comes to slow cooking foods. No matter which way you look at it there's something to be said about throwing it all into one pot and walking away only to have a delicious meal waiting on you hours later. Try slow cooking and determine if the highs are worth the lows at the end of the day. Win your race on creating delicious meals at a slow and steady pace.

Slow cooker tips

You can usually load up your slow cooker the night before. Just wake up and place the dish in your slow cooker and you’re ready to go.

Slow cookers produce a lot of liquid, so if you’re using a recipe not meant for a slow cooker, you may want to adjust your liquids.

Double your slow cooker recipe and freeze half for later.

Some say to brown meat before adding to a slow cooker, but if you like browned meat, do some browning AFTER the cooking process.

Resist temptation to stir ingredients. Lifting the lid will interrupt the vacuum created and allow steam to escape.

Browning meats before adding them to a crock-pot can improve flavor, but if you’re in a hurry, it’s rarely necessary.

Don’t try to cook dry beans with other slow cooker ingredients. They need to be soaked first.

If you’re using frozen vegetables in a slow cooker, bring them to room temperature and add them in the last 30-60 minutes since they are already cooked.

Slow cookers