A Quick Guide to Crockpots

One of the easiest ways to make stews, soups, barbequed meats, and a variety of other recipes is by using a slow cooker or as it is commonly known a Crockpot.  One huge advantage is that once you put the ingredients into your pot, you can go about your day without having to worry about your meal again until it is time to eat.

How Does a Crockpot Work?

Easy Crockpot Recipes and Menus

The basic idea behind a slow cooker is that you cook your food at a low temperature for a long period of time.  The slow cooking time results in tender, moist meats and vegetables without fuss or hassle.  Flavors have the time to thoroughly infuse through all of your ingredients, making chili, curries, and beans particularly delicious.

The standard design for a crockpot is a ceramic inner pot which is encased in a metal shell.  A lid, which is usually made of transparent glass to make it easier to check the progress of the food, covers both sections.  The electric heat is controlled by a thermostat, allowing you to easily select the temperature at which you want to cook.

Liquid is added to the raw ingredients inside the inner pot to transmit heat and flavors evenly throughout the meal.  Depending on your recipe, you can use water, chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, or wine for your liquid. 

The Benefits of Slow Cookers

  • It is difficult to impossible to overcook foods in a slow cooker, although the flavor may not be as good if foods are cooked too long. 
  • Slow cooking is cost-effective, because tougher, cheaper cuts of meat can be used to excellent effect.
  • Generally, you will need less liquid for slow cooking than you use with traditional methods, because the heat does not rise high enough for the liquid to boil and evaporate.
  • Meals can be ready at a time to suit making evening meals a pleasure for those that work all day.
  • There is no need to constantly watch the meal to ensure that it isn’t burning as you would if you were cooking on a stove top.

How To Choose a Crockpot

Crockpots vary in size, shape and material but they all essentially perform the same task. Nevertheless you might want to consider the following when deciding on which crockpot is for you:

  • Size – The size of the crockpot is an important factor. First of all will it be enough to feed your family? For singles a 1.5 quart will probably be sufficient but for a family of 5 or 6 then a 6 quart is recommended.  Most crockpots come with a removable insert so any leftovers can be stored so also consider whether your crockpot inner liner will fit into your fridge or freezer.
  • Transport – Is it likely that you will be cooking meals for friends and relatives? If so, then look for a crockpot with a removable liner that can be transported safely and securely.
  • Features – Look for added features such as a delayed start time and a keep warm option.
  • Ensure you purchase a crockpot with a glass lid as this will ensure that you don’t need to constantly lift the lid to check on the contents.

Hints and Tips

  • Don’t remove the lid during cooking – this can dry out the contents and also extend the required cooking time.
  • If you find that your meal has turned out dry it may mean that the seal between the lid and the base is not complete and the steam is escaping.
  • Don’t overfill your crockpot. It should be no more than two thirds full as it could boil over.

About the Author:

Benni Jenyfari is a freelance author for Only Cookware – a resource for all clad cookware, stainless steel pots and cast iron cookware sets.


Comments

  1. Thanks Benni Jenyfari, Wonderful article. Tips and Hints are great.

Share Your Thoughts

*

Disclaimer & Disclosure Opinions expressed by contributing authors, commenters and reviewers are solely the responsibility and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Menus4Moms.com. Menus4Moms.com contains outbound links to websites offering resources related to cooking or the home. Menus4Moms.com may be offered compensation for these links, either in the form of commissions or flat advertising fees. [ Read more ]