Slow cookers are cool. This appliance helps you cook warming meals on chilly nights and gets you out of the kitchen on hot days. No wonder the popularity of slow cookers is soaring. Slow cookers are available in many sizes, colors, and some are programmable. If you don't have a slow cooker yet you may wish to buy one.
According to "One Pot Wonders," an article on the CBS News Web site, about 80% of American kitchens have a slow cooker. "Experts predict [slow cookers] will be a big trend in 2008," the articles notes. Grocery stores have picked up on the trend and sell pre-cut veggies and meat for slow cookers. Book stores have dozens of books devoted to slow cooker recipes.
Slow cooking is a safe way to cook if you follow the directions and clean your cooker properly. Here are some care and cleaning tips.
1. Never preheat a slow cooker. This advice comes from the Kraft Kitchens Canada Web site. Preheating an empty crock may cause it to crack.
2. Handle the crock carefully. In an article titled, "Cleaning Your Crockery Cooker," the Better Homes and Gardens Web site cautions users about hitting the crock on the kitchen faucet. (Apparently this has happened.) One hit could chip or crack the insert.
3. Coat the crock with nonstick spray before using. This prevents food from sticking and makes clean-up a breeze.
2. Put a liner in the crock. According to the Reynolds Web site, slow cooker liners are made of heat-resistant nylon and designed for easy clean-up. The liner is simply thrown away. But using a liner doesn't get you out of cleaning the crock. Even if you don't see a drip, you should still wash the crock for food safety.
5. Use the right utensils. Stir food with a wooden spoon, plastic spoon, or rubber spatula to prevent scratching.
6. After the food has finished cooking, unplug the slow cooker. Wipe the cord with a damp cloth.
7. Let our slow cooker cool down before you wash it. Never add cold water to a hot crock or put a hot crock in cold water.
8. Wash the crock in warm, soapy water. Use a soft cloth, plastic brush, or plastic scrubbie. Let the crock soak a bit if food is really stuck.
9. Wash the lid in the dishwasher. A glass lid can go anywhere. If the lid is plastic, put it on the top rack.
10. Wipe the outside with a damp cloth and dry completely. Do not use abrasive cleaners, harsh chemicals, or scouring pads on the outside of your slow cooker or you will damage it forever. These tips will keep your food safe and your slow cooker working for years.
Copyright 2008 by Harriet Hodgson
Harrie Hodgson has been a freelance nonfiction writer for 29 years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, "Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief," written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from http://www.amazon.com You will find a review of the book on the American Hospice Foundation Web site and the Health Ministries Association Web site.
Please visit Harriet's Web site and learn more about this busy author and grandmother.
Photo. John Kasawa
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