Crock Pots really are a lifesaver for busy moms that don’t have time to spend hours in the kitchen making dinner. You can throw in all the ingredients in the morning, turn it on, and when you come home at night you have a tasty, hot meal ready for everyone to eat. As amazing as this is, sometimes people are intimidated by using a Crock Pot and don’t ever use it. They’re either afraid of what might happen, don’t know how to clean it properly, or don’t know what to put inside. I’ll admit, as simple as they really are, they can be a little scary if you don’t know how to properly use them. In order to help women overcome their fears and make their lives easier, here are 8 tricks that will help you get the best use out of your Crock Pot.
1. Use Cooking Spray
To make cleaning up after using your crock Pot as easy and simple as possible, spray the inside with cooking spray before using. This will help the food not to stick to the inside and will make it a whole lot easier to clean out.
2. No Matter What You Do, Don’t Lift The Lid
One of the best things about using a Crock Pot is the amazing aroma that fills the air while it’s cooking. As tempting as it is to open that lid up and take a really good whiff, DON’T DO IT! It’s a big no-no because it releases a lot of heat and leads to slower cooking times. Every time you lift the lid you add 20 minutes of cooking time.
3. Layer It Correctly
Believe it or not, there is a proper way to layer your food inside your Crock Pot. It’s important to put the slowest cooking food items at the bottom and the fastest at the top. You’ll want to put veggies first, then your meat, then the liquid. Layering it like this will ensure that all the food will cook to perfection.
4. Fill It Properly
It’s important for heat distribution to fill your Crock Pot to the proper level. You always want your slow cooker to be 1/2-3/4 full. Any less or more than that will disrupt the heat as it cooks and may make things cook too fast or too slow.
5. Safety First
Many people are afraid to use their Crock Pots because they’re afraid of what can go wrong when it’s on. As long as you use it properly, it should be okay. Make sure that it’s standing alone while it’s on and that nothing is surrounding it, especially fabric items like towels, curtains, and oven mitts. Always put it on a safe high heat surface while it’s on and keep the cord out from underneath the bottom. By doing these things you can leave your Crock Pot cooking all day long while you’re gone without a worry.
6. Add Dairy Last
Since dairy items don’t do very well with heat, make sure that you add any dairy ingredients last to your recipe and that they are only added 30 minutes before it’s done cooking. Adding these ingredients too soon could cause curdling and may make them go sour and taste funny.
7. Choose Fatty Meats
Since things are usually cooking in your Crock Pot for many hours, meat can tend to dry out sometimes. To avoid this, use meats that are higher in fat like chicken thighs instead of breasts or brisket instead of sirloin. The extra fat will not only add flavor to your whole meal, but will keep the meats nice and tender.
8. Use Slow Cooker Liners For The Easiest Cleanups
If you want an even easier clean up than using cooking spray, you can use slow cooker liners to put in your Crock Pot. It’s a really large bag that’s meant to fit many different Crock Pots that has high heat tolerance. It allows you to line the slow cooker with the bag, put in all the ingredients, then when you’re done eating and ready to clean up, all you do is pull out the bag and throw it away. No scrubbing the inside of your Crock Pot at all. It doesn’t get much easier than that.