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The Crock Pot or Slow Cooker is one of the best things to have in your kitchen. Not only does it save you a lot of time, but it also is so easy to use. Slow cookers are great for beginning cooks to advanced cooks. All you have to do is fill it up and turn it on. Here are some tips on using slow cookers that everyone needs to know!
1. High on most slow cooker is approximately 300 degrees F. Low is approximately 200 degrees F.
2. One hour on high equals about 2 to 2 1/2 hours on low
3. When using your crock pot... DON'T PEEK! It takes about 15 to 20 minutes for the crock pot to regain lost steam and return to the right temperature.
4. Browning the meat, onions, and veggies before putting them in the cooker improves their flavor. This extra step can be skipped in most recipes. - The flavor will still taste good either way.
5. Whole or leaf herbs gain flavor in the crock pot. Ground seasonings lose flavor. Add ground seasoning during the last hour and season to taste right before serving.
6. Slow Cookers work wonders for a side dish! One of my favorites are baked potatoes. Just fill the slow cooker with cleaned potatoes, place the lid on and cook all day until done. Peel them after they are cooked. You could use them for a potato salad or even just baked potatoes.
7. Liquids don't boil down in a slow cooker. At the end of the cooking time, remove the cover, set the dial on High and allow the liquid to evaporate if the dish is soupier than you want
8. Less tender, and less expensive cuts of meat are better suited for slow cooking. When cooked on low for 6 to 8 hours makes the meat is much more tender compared to cooking on High for 3 to 4 hours.
9. Cooking with your crock pot is a great was to keep your house cool in the summer. My favorite part of cooking with the slow cooker is that it makes your house smell amazing all day long!
10. Using Crock Pot Liners make for a super easy clean up and it doesn't effect the cooking of your crock pot. You can find these liners at most grocery stores. If you don't have any liners, cooking spray will also make clean up easier.
11. Foods cooked on the bottom of the slow cooker are cooked faster than those on top. This also makes the food on the bottom more tender. I usually put my meat and veggies in first unless the recipes says otherwise.
12. Cut hard Vegetables so they are close to the same size. This way they will all cook evenly.
13. Add tender veggies during the last hour of cooking. (Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Zucchini, etc) If you add them before hand they might over cook and turn really mushy.
14. Foods in your crock pot do not cook properly if they are filled all the way to the top. When your Crock pot is 1/2 way full to 3/4 of the way full, your food will cook better. If your crock pot if less than half full, cooking time will be faster and could burn.
15. Find a Slow Cooker that works for you. There are so many kinds and brands out there. Do some research before buying one. Chances are... your friends and family have crock pots so ask them what they like.