Making meals with a slow cooker is one of the easiest ways to provide daily nourishment when you're always on the go.
Simple as it is, there are several tips that will make the process even better, producing the best results possible.
Here are some expert slow cooker meal tips you may want to keep in mind:
1. Start with fresh ingredients.
You can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear, as they say.
Whatever meal you're making, use the freshest ingredients that you can.
Just because you're tossing them into a slow cooker and they're disappearing under the lid doesn't mean you should use an ingredient that wouldn't be fit to appear all by itself on a dinner plate.
Long before ingredients get to a dangerously spoiled stage, they lose their flavor and nutrients.
Chemically, food changes as it ages. Just as a brown banana has a lot more sugar than a green or barely ripe banana, your vegetables' taste and nutritional values are altered the longer they sit in your fridge or pantry.
Since your goal with slow cooking is health as well as convenience, begin with the freshest ingredients possible.
2. Get the right broth.
Almost every slow cooker recipe calls for a liquid. The liquid you use is just as important an ingredient as the other items in the recipe.
Chicken broth, bone broth or vegetable broth should be your first choice because it will impart the most flavor to your dish.
If you don't have broth, your second choice should be filtered water.
3. Don't be afraid to experiment.
Slow cookers are very forgiving. (Trust me, I know.)
If you think you have an idea for a twist on an old standby, don't be shy about trying it out.
Slow cookers are fantastic platforms for trying out new spices that you've always wanted to test.
Or maybe you have a family recipe, and you'd like to convert it into a slow cooker recipe.
Then, open up your spice cabinet and see what other goodies you have in there that might enhance the dish.
There's never been an easier way to play with exotic spices and unusual ingredients. Pretty soon, you'll be inventing new slow cooker recipes that will become family favorites.
Even the most basic slow cookers have a setting for warming. This is to keep food warm after it's finished cooking until you serve it.
You shouldn't, however, leave the food in the slow cooker on the warming setting indefinitely. This will result in the food drying out and going past the “done” point.
You should also never leave your dish in the slow cooker sitting on the counter overnight unless you're cooking something for the next day.
The dark, moist and warm conditions can lead to unhealthy bacterial growth.
If you want, when you've finished with mealtime, just remove the entire ceramic dish and store it in the fridge with the lid on, assuming you can make room for it.
The next day, take it out of the fridge, allow the ceramic dish and lid to come to room temperature, and reheat it right in your slow cooker.
With all these slow cooker tips, I know you'll have so many more meal ideas for the rest of winter. Hope you enjoy!