Tips for Better Slow Cooking in your Crockpot

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by Nancy Newcomer

Now that fall is here, it’s time to break out the crockpot.., BUT, before you do, look over my Tips for Better Slow Cooking in your Crockpot. These simple techniques will help ensure you get the BEST results from the effort you put into cooking for your family. AND just for fun…take a listen to these tips and many others on my Back to the Kitchen Minute on Empower RadioHappy Cooking…and listening :)

1. Use the Right Size Crockpot

Slow cookers are available in a range of sizes. Make sure to use the size cooker recommended in each recipe or adjust the recipe to work for the size cooker you own. This helps ensure that the slow cooker isn’t overflowing or underfilled AND that your meal can cook properly.

2) Don’t Overfill your Crockpot

To make sure your meal is finished in the time listed on your recipe and to avoid potential food-safety hazards, don’t overfill your slow cooker. Most manufacturers recommend filling them no more than two-thirds full.

3. Keep a Lid on It

Resist the urge to take off the lid to peek at your meal. Doing that lets heat escape and slows the cooking process. Only open it 30 to 45 minutes before the end of the cook time to check doneness.

4. Plan Meals Ahead

If you want to turn your slow cooker on first thing in the morning, a little planning goes a long way. The night before: Cut and trim any meat, chop any vegetables, measure out dry ingredients and prepare any sauce; refrigerate the components in separate containers. (Do not refrigerate the slow-cooker insert as a cold insert takes too long to heat up and affects cooking time and food safety.

5) Keep Temperature in Mind

A slow cooker is convenient, but if not used properly, there’s the potential for food-safety hazards. Temperatures between 40° and 140°F fall into the “Danger Zone,” since bacteria thrive in these temperatures. To avoid the Danger Zone, never add frozen ingredients to your cooker, and make sure to refrigerate any ingredients you’ve prepped ahead in separate storage containers. Never attempt to cook a whole chicken or roast in your slow cooker. Large hunks of meat won’t cook thoroughly enough in the slow cooker- Make sure it’s cut into smaller pieces so that it is properly cooked.

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