When you have to prepare your meals on busy days, you can always turn to your slow cooker. These cookers can be a real lifesaver when you do not have so much time to prepare your meals. While there are many reasons to cook using slow cookers, there is a list of foods not to cook in a slow cooker for a variety of reasons. Let's find out more about it.
Benefits of Cooking in Slow Cookers
There are so many reasons why cooking in slow cookers is a popular practice. They allow one-step preparation, which means you can place all your ingredients in your cooker and finish everything in a short time. Using a slow cooker in summer seems to be a better option than using an oven because it does not produce a lot of heat. When cooking meats, you will always benefit from the long, low-temperature cooking that you get from slow cookers. What's more, you do not have to worry about increasing your electricity bills when using slow cookers in place of an oven.
Foods Not to Cook in a Slow Cooker
It is true that slow cookers have made cooking easy, but many experts believe that there are many foods not to cook in a slow cooker. Here is the list of those foods.
You may want to avoid cooking fish in your slow cooker because it will make your house smell like seafood. It is not a great idea also because slow cooking will make your fish extremely dry. This is true for most quick-cooking proteins, including fish and white meat. It is better to pan-sear or oven-roast your fish to make it taste great.
2. Boneless Chicken Breast
As mentioned already, cooking white meat or quick-cooking protein in a slow cooker is not a great idea, so you should avoid using your slow cooker when cooking boneless chicken breast. Your chicken breast will dry out in no time. You will be much better off using slow cookers for meat with some fat on them. If you really want to use your cooker, you should opt for bone-in chicken and cook it after removing the skin.
A beer cheese soup may be one of your favorites, but you may want to avoid cooking cheese in your slow cooker and go with the stove instead. When it comes to cooking dairy products, such as cheese, cooking them for too long can spoil everything. In case of cheese, cooking for too long may cause the cheese to get a bit lumpy, which happens because the slow cooker breaks down the whey in it. If you want to avoid dealing with cottage cheese-like lumps and that too without its creamy deliciousness, you should stay away from using a slow cooker.
4. Dried Beans
Dried beans are one of many foods not to cook in a slow cooker because they contain a special toxin that can be dangerous for your health. You may have this issue with kidney beans in particular. In most cases, the boiling hot water neutralizes the toxin, but this may not happen if your slow cooker does not come to a boil. If you really want to use dried beans in your soups and stews, you should prep the first. Soaking them in water for at least 12 hours may help remove the toxin they contain. Alternatively, you can consider using canned beans.
5. Cheap Vanilla Extract
Many people use slow cookers when they want to make a dessert. It certainly saves a lot of time to use a slow cooker to make sweet bread, cinnamon rolls, and cakes. However, when you use your slow cooker for baking, you should avoid using any cheap vanilla extract. If you use any low-quality vanilla extract, it would make your cinnamon rolls a bit too alcoholic. You should avoid it especially if you are not a fan of overly pronounced vanilla flavor in your baked goods. There is a trace amount of alcohol in the vanilla extract that stays intact when cooked in a slow cooker. Therefore, it is better to avoid it in the first place.
6. Frozen Foods
Many people do not mind putting frozen food in their slow cookers, and even though it does not affect the cooking quality or taste of your frozen veggies, it increases your risk of infections. The reason is that frozen veggies contain bacteria and the temperature in your slow cooker may not be high enough to kill them off. Frozen foods have to be on the list of foods not to cook in a slow cooker, but there is an alternative – be sure to thaw your veggies first and then put them in your cooker.
7. Fresh Herbs
You can certainly add fresh herbs to your food and cook in your slow cooker, but it is better to sprinkle them on your dishes in the raw form. If you cook these herbs in your slow cooker, they will lose their medicinal properties and offer no benefits whatsoever. You can freeze those herbs and use them whenever you need. Just avoid slow cooking them!
You should not put bacon in a slow cooker because it cooks quickly. Slow cooking for hours can make your bacon feel extremely dried out, which will spoil its flavor. In case you are making a baked potato soup and really want to use some bacon, consider frying it on the stove instead. Once fried, simply sprinkle it over your potato soup.
9. Long-Grain Rice
You can certainly cook rice in your slow cooker, but it is better to avoid it when you are going to cook long-grain rice. You will have a hard time cooking it properly because it is difficult to tell if the rice has been cooked evenly. There will always be a risk of overcooking the edges of the rice. If you really want to use a slow cooker, be sure to opt for wild rice instead