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Video:How to Cook With a Crockpot

with Rachel Edelman

No time to cook? Let your crockpot make dinner for you. Learn how to properly use your slow cooker to get the best results.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Cook With a Crockpot

Hi, I'm Rachel Edelman for About.com Food. Today I'm going to show you how to use a crockpot.

Select the Crockpot's Settings

Most crockpots have at least two settings: high and low. One hour on high equals about two hours on low.

To shorten cooking time, you can cook for the first hour on high and the rest of the time on low. This will also help heat up the meat to the safe temperature of 140 degrees.

Fill the Crockpot

If your crockpot does not have a removable dish, use a crockpot liner to help with cleanup. Fill the crockpot at least halfway full but no more than three-quarters of the way full. You want to have some room at the top of the crockpot for steam to move around.

Food on the bottom of the pot will cook faster and be moister. It's often recommended that vegetables be placed at the bottom, and meat on the top. Carefully follow the layering instructions in your recipes.

Cook the Ingredients

When your food is layered, cover the pot and set the timer. The beauty of the crockpot is that you can put everything in it and leave it to cook all day.

But there are some ingredients that should not be left in the crockpot for too long:
  • Spices. Stir in spices for the last hour of cooking. They will lose flavor if cooked with the rest of the ingredients for a long cooking period. Also, spicy ingredients such as hot peppers and Tabasco sauce should be added at the end, because they tend to become bitter if cooked too long.
  • Vegetables. Very often, tender vegetables like tomatoes, mushrooms, and zucchini should be added at the last 45 minutes to prevent overcooking.
  • Dairy. Dairy products such as heavy cream and cheese should be added during the last 30 minutes, unless the recipe states otherwise.

Thicken Juices and Concentrate Flavors

When everything is mostly done, you can thicken the juices and concentrate the flavors by removing the lid and cooking on high for the last half hour of cooking time.

Clean the Crockpot

When the timer is finished, the crockpot will automatically switch to warm. When mealtime is over, be sure to turn off your crockpot, properly store your meal, and then clean the crockpot so it's ready for its next use.

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