Getting the best from your Slow Cooker.

 Troubleshooting. What can go wrong? How can I prevent it, or Save it?Turkey And Cranberries 3  Cobbler pot

If you take good care of your slow cooker – it can last you a lifetime!  (I already lost one by treating her wrong, so I have looked into this)

A Slow cooker. What could be more simple?  off, low, high and warm are the general settings sometimes medium too. No moving parts they just heat up. What could go wrong?   Well some problems do occur  (rarely).  Here are the key things that can happen and how to  prevent them from occurring.
I have included how to  prolong the your slow cookers life as well.
I am a big believer in trial and error and different pots appear to cook differently.  Different makes, models, age of slow cooker can all be a factor.  Trial and error is better than sticking to every technical tip.
The List below contains some good helpful tips, they are just that tips. Its not a instruction manual so dont live and breath by them. Its a slow cooker chuck it in walk away…..

I only want one, EVER!

How to make a slow cooker last as long as possible.

  • Oil your pot before cooking every time. (I use a small amount of olive oil on a kitchen roll and rub it into my pot.) 
  • After cooking switch it off and leave the lid on while it cools. (helps loosen the stuck on food)
  • Clean in hot water and rub with nothing rougher than a sponge. ( Never use abrasives.)
  • If food did burn on and it doesn’t remove  after the above add water and wash up liquid and turn the pot on for an hour or two on low.

I have bunt food on mine however I didn’t stick to all these rules now I do its much easier to clean. At some point something is bound to stick especially lasagna or pearl barley. When cooking a dish likely to stick line your pot. ( you can buy pot liners, I have not used one  yet however I will get some and report back. alternatively use tin foil.

Ps I have two Slow cookers just because i’m a pothead.

 

Sorry, I’m a Serial Lid Lifter.

Does it matter?

  • It takes 20 minutes to get back up to temperature!

Apparently  it takes 20 minutes for the slow cooker to return to temp. Your food then takes  longer to cook.  In my opinion This is important in the early stages while the pot is getting to temperature. However once bubbling,  as long as Its a quick peek and stir, this is not as crucial.  I can’t help myself I need to know its going right, cooking well and I might need to add some flavor.

 

A Hungry Pot! Or food over spilling.

Most effective cooking.

  • Fill your pot 3/4 full. if you do this its less likely to burn and cooking times will be more accurate.
  • If full to the top it can over spill (due to a vacuum forming!)

This is what most manufacturers recommend.

I have filled mine within a 2 cm of the top. If you fill it more than this a vacuum can form and it spills over the top. I have cooked with it less than half full as well and its slightly faster to cook but more likely to burn on.   Trial and error again.

If you do fill it up, you can freeze what you don’t eat.

This doesn’t mean you have to add water. For example a whole chicken needs no liquid but the pot is still well over 3/4 full.

 

My Meat is stringy or tough?

AKA Overcooked.

  • your food is overcooked did you put it on high instead of low?
  • were you out a lot longer than planned?
  • is your slow cooker working correctly?

It is easy to overcook food in the slow cooker  however you have got a 2-3 hr window where it will be fine. Some slow cookers do cook faster. Again trial and error. Read reviews before you buy and they often state this cooker is a fast one /slow one etc. If you have a model already look up reviews on that see if its a common problem and adjust timings accordingly.

 

My Potatoes are hard?

AKA uneven cooking.

  • To prevent uneven cooking,  use bite sized even chunks. 
  • If out all day make sure potatoes, and root vegetables are at the bottom of the pot.
  • If you are  in. Give it a midway stir.  (not needed but I cant help it and its nice to be given permission to look.)

To be honest I have thrown my potatoes in and never had a issue.  I do make sure they have been cut to similar sizes.  However I put them in anyway I fancy.  I think its a lot to do with your Slow Cooker different makes, models, age of SC.  Trial and error is better than sticking to every technical tip.

Smokey smokey.

Your slow cooker is smoking.

  • Is it new? This can happen along with a strange smell when its new.
  • Spilt food between the crock pot and the heating pot.
  • Pot is cracked slightly and food is leaking out.

Easy really it may smoke a little at first and smell. Don’t worry its normal the first few times but it wont last long. Check your pot and clean up spills, clean with a damp cloth when cooled. Always clean it spills out of the metal housing until after each cooking session. use only a damp cloth and  make sure its dry before re-using.

Check your pot for cracks these can occur easily see below. Oh and stop using it if you have got a crack.

If it not the above turn it off? You pot could be busted.

 

Broken or Cracked Pot.

Did you drop it?

  • Check all new equipment for hairline cracks.
  • Don’t put a heated pot in cold water or a cold pot in hot water.
  • When using stock don’t pour boiling stock into a off cold pot and don’t pour cold stock into a hot on pot.
  • don’t put a hot crock liner into the fridge/freezer. (let it cool first not all liners are suitable for the freezer so check manufacturer’s instructions)
  • don’t drop it (bet your so glad I added that helpful hint.)

All of the above could crack your pot and the same applies to the lid. I  hope  that explain why some recipe books say use hot stock. ( it all depends on when you’re adding the ingredient to prevent cracks and for flavor of course).

If I needed to replace my pots liner as I had destroyed the coating. For a replacement contact the manufacturer directly. Trawling the internet got me nowhere, just saving you time.

Its just a watery slop!

Food is unintresting watery and tasteless.

  • Too much liquid.
  • Not enough spice or seasoning.

You will find a lot of  slow cooker recipes only require a very small amount of liquid.  Don’t be tempted to add more.

The very nature of the slow cooker is that juices don’t evaporate.  Meats always make more liquid adding to the flavor and moistness of the dish.

Slow cookers use about half the liquid you would need on the hob so if converting food to the hob half the liquid. I use more spices & herbs as I would on the hob. eg a Chilli may taste to hot around lunch time but the food will be milder by serving time. Again experiment experiment experiment.

The food is cold, Stone cold. (or was warm but cooled)

I forgot to press play.

  • Did you switch it on? 
  • A broken socket.
  • Your Slow cooker has a fault.
  • Hubby/kids/cleaner turned all the sockets off before they went to out?
  • Power cut.

You could get a timer lots of people do, you still got to switch it on, Unless I come round and do it for you I can’t help any more than that. (I have done it myself you tend to only do it once). If the food has been left less than 2 hrs it should be okay to cook on the hob or turn back on (if time permits). Don’t cook it again after 2 hrs  of no power its not worth getting food poisoning.

If your socket is fine,there was no power cut, it got turned on and your slow cooker appears to work.  Then please get it checked out properly. It may have some sort of malfunction that needs looking into.

 

Thats it for now. If you have any ideas or subjects you want covering please comment below and I will research it or give you my opinion from my experience.

enjoy

 

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