A slow cooker has bought convenience into the lives of many Americans. Despite this, you might not be using your slow cooker correctly while making mistakes that can be dangerous or result in your meals being less tasty. What mistakes should you avoid while using your slow cooker?
Some mistakes to avoid when using a slow cooker include overfilling the cooker, using it to reheat meals, removing the lid while cooking, adding vegetables in the wrong order at the wrong time, using tender cuts of meat, and forgetting to defrost your meat before putting it in the slow cooker.
If you want to learn about the common mistakes you never knew you were making with your slow cooker, keep reading.
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Common Slow Cooker Mistakes
Most of the time, you can just throw your ingredients into a slow cooker and forget about it until dinner is served. But there are some mistakes that will ruin any dish or make cooking more difficult than necessary! Here’s 10 common errors to avoid at all costs:
1. Cooking Fragile Vegetables With Hearty Vegetables
Not all vegetables are created equal, as some take a longer or shorter time to cook. If you do not gauge the timing correctly, you will end up with undercooked or overcooked vegetables. Delicate vegetables like mushrooms should be put in at the very end of cooking to prevent them from turning into mush.
The order that you put your ingredients matters and should go in your slow cooker in the following order:
- Hearty root vegetables
- Delicate vegetables
- Herbs and spices
2. Ingredients Are Too Large to Cook
A slow cooker operates at a temperature anywhere from 200℉ to 300℉ (93℃ to 148℃), which is much lower than the stovetop. The larger surface area allows heat to permeate the foodstuff more quickly so that it gets cooked. With a slow cooker, any items you use should be chopped into small pieces, or your meal might be cooking for several hours and it can still be undercooked.
3. Overfilling Your Slow Cooker
In many recipes that involve vegetables or meat, additional liquid comes from these items after cooking them in a slow cooker. Your cooker should be at least ⅓ full to prevent overcooking, but keep the quantity low as the additional liquid can result in spillage.
If you need to cook larger meals for your family, consider investing in a slow cooker that can support the size you need.
Wan to find out what size slow cooker you need? Check this article out.
4. Adding Too Much Liquid
An excessive amount of liquid can result in a soup becoming too watery and thin or meats becoming overcooked. If you are following slow cooker recipes on the internet, ensure that you are using the exact amount of liquid.
If you end up with a watery broth, try boiling it on the stove or using thickening agents like corn starch to achieve a more viscous consistency.
5. Forgetting to Defrost Meat
Meat is usually frozen to prevent bacterial growth, but if you start cooking frozen meat in a slow cooker without defrosting it, you might encourage a hub of bacteria to grow because the slow cooker’s low temperatures will not be able to kill these bacteria off.
Even if you are very busy, you should never forget to defrost your meat with a method like cold water thawing, you could inadvertently cause E.Coli or salmonella for your family, which might not be a wise idea.
Safety Tip: Defrost frozen foods in your refrigerator.
6. Reheating Food in Your Slow Cooker
The slow cooker does not have the high temperatures needed to reheat food properly, as it is only meant to cook food. Although it is possible to get a warmed up meal if you wait a few hours (or years), you will have a food safety disaster on your hands.
Reheating food in a slow cooker can create an environment where bacteria and viruses run rampant, which can get you potentially very sick. Instead, reheat your food in an oven, on the stove, or in the microwave.
7. Removing the Lid While Cooking
The slow cooker creates an even temperature that is built over a long time. When you remove the slow cooker’s lid before your food is done to check up on it, you are causing all the heat to escape, which will significantly increase the cooking time. You will have to wait much longer for your food to be ready if you do this.
8. Using Tender Cuts of Meat
A slow cooker is meant to make incredibly thick cuts of meat tender and juicy. If you start with a lump of tender meat, it will end up falling apart in the cooker. Instead, keep those cuts for the stove and use cheaper, thicker cuts of meat for the slow cooker.
9. Putting Cold Water Into a Slow Cooker
Pouring room temperature water into a slow cooker that has not been heated up is perfectly fine. However, if you are pouring ice-cold water onto a ceramic pot, the pot will crack, making your slow cooker unusable and forcing you to spend money on a replacement. If you use filtered water from a refrigerator dispenser, try heating it up on the stove until it comes to room temp before filling your slow cooker.
10. Cooking Meat on High
If you are cooking meat on a slow cooker, choose the lower temperature setting. Cooking meats on high makes them tougher, while meats cooked on low have that tenderness and flavor that you are looking for.
Why Should You Buy a Slow Cooker?
A slow cooker is an electrical cooking appliance that is traditionally used for cooking food items for hours at a time, making it ideal for soups, stews, or cooking meat. The cooking duration can range anywhere from an hour to ten hours at a time.
Buying a slow cooker does not come cheap, with a price range of anywhere from $40 to $200 for good quality cookers. So why should you invest in one?
A slow cooker is very easy to use because all you need to do is put the required ingredients inside, set the duration, and let it cook. While cooking, the slow cooker has an even temperature within, meaning you do not have to suffer the inconvenience of checking up on your food.
It is perfect for working adults or students who cannot dedicate long hours in the kitchen to making a dish and need something quick and easy.
Although investing in a slow cooker might initially be expensive, you will save money over time as the types of food cooked in a crockpot are usually the cheaper ones. In addition to this, the cooker uses less electricity than other types of electric cookers like a rice cooker, so you will end up saving money on electricity while helping to save the environment.
Foods made in the slow cooker are usually much healthier than those prepared on a stove because you do not need to use additional oils or fats. The food simmers in its own juices, preserving vitamins and minerals lost during traditional cooking.
Learn about how your slow cooker gives you healthy meals – here.
More Flavorful Meals
Meals prepared in the slow cooker are more flavorful than if they were prepared through any other means. For example, when you are cooking meat, after stewing for hours, the meat becomes more tender, the sauces become richer, and the meat becomes more flavorful as it thoroughly absorbs the sauce.
As the food is sealed within the slow cooker, you do not have to deal with flavors being lost through evaporation.
Conclusion – Avoiding Slow Cooker Mistakes
A slow cooker is meant to make your life convenient, and it is almost foolproof, as it can forgive a multitude of mistakes. But when you are following a slow cooker recipe, just take note of the mistakes to avoid mentioned in this article, and you will be producing delicious meals.
One-Pot Cooking Rocks
Thanks for the video music – Ben Sound