In the Kitchen with Fareway: Slow Cooker Questions

MOLINE, Illinois-- Have questions about slow cookers? Dietitian Whitney Hemmer spelled them out for us Tuesday, Oct. 15 during Good Morning Quad Cities.

1. How much food can/should I put in my slow cooker? To cook food properly and safely, fill your slow cooker at least half full, but no more than two-thirds full.

2. Can I open the lid and stir? Although it is tempting, each time you remove the lid you increase the cooking time by about 20 minutes.

3. Do I need to preheat my slow cooker? Unlike a conventional oven, there is no need to preheat your slow cooker. You can even place all ingredients in the crock the night before, cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning place the crock in the slow cooker and you're ready to cook!

4. What do I do with slow cooker leftovers? For safety reasons slow cookers should not be used to reheat leftovers. Use a microwave, stove top or conventional oven to reheat leftovers to 165°.

5. Can I use dairy products in the slow cooker? Milk based products may break down when cooked in the crock-pot. If dairy products are part of the recipe try to add them toward the end of the cooking period.

6. Can I put the frozen foods in the slow cooker? For best results, meats should be completely thawed before placing in the slow cooker.

7. What is the difference between the high and low temperature setting? Cooking on low heat takes about twice as long as cooking on high heat. Generally the low heat setting means about 200° and the high heat setting is about 300°.

8. Which vegetables are best for the slow cooker? Vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and other root veggies tend to cook slower than meat. Place these vegetables on the bottom and around the sides of the slow cooker then place your meat on top. Add tender veggies that you'd prefer to be crisp/tender during the last 15-45 minutes.

9. Can I do grains in the slow cooker? Oats and rice can be cooked in the slow cooker. Pasta can become sticky so it is recommended to cook the pasta according to its package and add into the slow cooker just before serving. Oats: Quick cooking and old fashioned oats are often interchangeable in recipes but with a slow cooker old-fashioned oats hold up much better. Rice: Converted rice is ideal for cooking all-day. If using instant rice, add it during the last thirty minutes of cooking.

Try out some our favorite crock-pot recipes listed below. Recipes can be found here.

  • Beef Stew
  • Chilly Day Chili
  • Shredded Beef
  • Crock Pot Pulled Pork
  • Shredded Pork Tacos
  • Buffalo Chicken Dip
  • Spinach Artichoke Dip
  • Crock Pot Stuffed Peppers
  • Gingerbread Oatmeal
  • Slow Cooker Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs
  • Slow Cooker Baked Apples
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