How to Use a Slow Cooker

Home-style meals and a busy schedule? You can have both!

If you're going to be away from home all day, select the low-heat setting on the cooker. This lets you simmer the food for 10 to 12 hours.

For afternoons when you're running errands or attending meetings, or for those times when you're entertaining and want to get the food preparation done early, use the high-heat setting. It will cook the food in 5 to 6 hours.

Types of Crockery Cookers

Illustration A: The heating coils wrap around the sides of the cooker. The crockery liner may or may not be removable.

Crockery cookers range in size from 1 to 6 quarts. The midsize crockery cookers are most common.

Besides different sizes of cookers, there also are two different types (see illustrations).

You can identify this crockery cooker (Illustration A) by the fixed settings on the heat control: low, high, and sometimes automatic (shifts from high to low heat).

Illustration B: The heating element cycles on and off.

This type of cooker (Illustration B) has a dial indicating temperatures in degrees.

Tips for Use

Crockery cookers are simple appliances to operate. The following general hints will help you use your crockery cooker more efficiently. (To learn about the specific features of your model, check the manufacturer's instruction booklet.)

  • Do some of the chopping and measuring of ingredients ahead if possible. Assemble the ingredients in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until it's time for cooking. If your cooker has a removable liner, assemble and refrigerate the food in the liner rather than a bowl.
  • Keep the lid securely on the crockery cooker during the cooking and be sure the food doesn't push up on the lid. Because crockery cooking depends on the heat that builds up in the container itself, resist the temptation to take a quick peek or stir frequently.
  • To protect the crockery liner, avoid subjecting it to sudden temperature changes. For instance, do not preheat the cooker and then add food.
  • As soon as possible, transfer any leftover food to a storage container and refrigerate or freeze.
  • Before using your crockery-cooker liner in the oven or microwave oven, check the manufacturer's directions.

Using a Timer

For extra convenience, use an automatic timer to start the cooker while you're away. The food, however, should not stand more than two hours before the cooker switches on.

  • First, assemble the recipe and thoroughly chill it.
  • When it's time to leave the house, place the food in the cooker. Plug the cooker into the timer, set the timer, and turn on the cooker.
  • If a recipe includes frozen fish or chicken, do not use an automatic timer. The standing time would give the frozen food a chance to thaw, resulting in overcooked fish or chicken.


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