I'm a slow cooker sucker and wouldn't be without it, it is my must-have kitchen tool as a busy mum.
Woolly jumper weather is upon us meaning the soups and stews will be simmering away in the slow cooker for the foreseeable.
There's no sautéing, baking or boiling I can just lash all the ingredients in and go. Some days I feel like the luckiest human on earth walking into the house knowing that dinner is already made. It can be a real lifesaver at times.
I cook everything from curry, spaghetti, chicken casserole, pulled pork and roast chicken in my crockpot and on the worst winter days I slow cook porridge overnight on low and my children absolutely adore it.
If you have recently invested in a slow cooker or if you're thinking of getting one, here are some slow cooker hacks every parent should know:
Avoid any catastrophes.
If your recipe requires you to add in milk, cream or cheese add it towards the end of the cooking time to avoid the dairy curdling. The same goes for food that cooks quickly such as pasta, small veggies and even beans unless you want a meal made up of mush.
Cut clean up time by half.
Using a slow cooker is a genius way of cutting out on various pots and pans but did you know you can get slow cooker liners for an even faster clean up, meaning no soaking or scrubbing after mealtimes, saving you time and energy to finish other daily chores.
Don't open the lid unless you have to.
Avoid lifting the lid and giving your food a little swirl unless you really need to or if you're adding ingredients. The lid traps the heat inside and each time you open it, it can take up to thirty minutes to regain the right temperature again.
Too much liquid? No problem.
If you have added too much water to your slow cooker recipe, don't fret. Remove the lid for the last thirty minutes of cooking time - it will help some of the extra liquid reduce down.
Did you know you can convert hundreds of recipes, including baked potatoes without having to turn on the oven? Just wrap them in tin foil and leave on low - I promise, you won't be disappointed.
Lock in flavour.
If you're cooking meat in your slow cooker, brown it in a pan first. Seared pieces help hold in juices giving it a richer flavour.
Don't overfill it.
When filling your slow cooker, make sure you leave plenty of room for the food to cook. It is recommended to only fill it two-thirds of the way.
Use up the broth from your slow-cooked beef or chicken to make a scrumptious gravy. Simply add some flour or cornstarch to thicken it up.
Get rid of that stubborn white film.
If your slow cooker is sporting a stubborn white film that won't come off after regular cleaning, add a couple of tablespoons of baking soda with a few drops of washing up liquid and water. After a couple of hours on low heat, it should just wipe clean.