The temperature plays an important role in slow cookers for optimum performance. A slow cooker needs to be at least half full for optimum cooking. Remember that the more you add to the slow cooker, the longer time it will take to cook. The heat settings will cook your food evenly without overcooking if the temperature is adjusted accordingly. If you aren’t careful and don’t adjust the slow cooker heat settings, you might discover that an eight hour setting cooked your meal in two and spent the other six hours drying it out.
Slow Cooking Meat
Meat is the most popular food cooked in a slow cooker. People also use a slow cooker to usually cook main dinner dishes as this is the meal you can struggle with the most when you are trying to prepare something to eat for the evening on a busy schedule. Remember, the meat you are using needs to be thoroughly drained before adding it to the slow cooker. As meat takes longer to cook, they need to be placed on the bottom layer inside the slow cooker. This will also help to keep the meat moist since it will cook gently into the liquid underneath it.
For food safety reasons, meat needs to be cooked for at least three hours so that it reaches an internal temperature that is high enough to cook the meat properly and safely. This isn’t usually a problem since most cooks use the slow cooker at its lowest setting (six to ten hours depending on the slow cooker brand).
Slow Cooking Vegetables
If you are planning to cook vegetables in your slow cooker, here are some points to remember. Tough fibrous veggies like potatoes, turnips and carrots can be tossed in at the start with the meat. It takes longer for the fibers to be broken down and the vegetables to be cooked all the way through. More delicate vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and mushrooms should be added 30 minutes before the cooking finish time has been reached.
My Recommended Brand
There are several manufactures of slow cookers on the market today. One of the brands that is gaining in popularity is Hamilton Beach. One of the most important things about a slow cooker is how hot it cooks. There are some slow cookers that even on the lowest setting will cook too hot and burn the food. The first thing I test on a slow cooker is how hot the unit cooks. Hamilton Beach passed this test with flying colors. I also found that the seal on the lids I have tested is also very good which keeps moisture in.