Slow cooker models vary, make sure you read the manufacturer’s guide book before using it for the first time.
Washing Your Slow Cooker Pot
Always remove any labels and tags from a new slow cooker, then wash the ceramic cooking pot well in hot soapy water, rinse well and dry thoroughly. Do not use any abrasive scourers or cleaners on the ceramic pot as this can cause nasty scratches. A damp soapy soft cloth should do the job fine.
After you have cooked in the slow cooker it should be switched off before removing the cooking pot. I would suggest that, once cooled a little, pour some warm soapy water into the pot and leave to soak for how ever long is necessary. I would caution against leaving the pot immersed in water as the base can be porous and long soaking may damage it. It is always important to check the manufacturer’s instructions before assuming your pot is dishwasher proof. Not all pots are.
Never put the hot cooking pot into cold water immediately after cooking as sudden change in temperature could cause the ceramic pot to crack. This applies to pouring boiling hot water into an empty cold pot.
Some slow cookers need to be preheated for 15-20 minutes. However some appliances do heat up quickly and make the preheating step unnecessary. Personally I never heat my slow cooker when empty as it is not required and I would be concerned it may crack without anything in it. Therefore please consult your manufacturers guidelines as they may advise against this.
Ensure you have removed any labels, tags or packaging and have washed your ceramic pot as detailed above. Make sure you check manufacturer’s instructions to see if you can use the ceramic cooking pot on the stovetop or in the oven, or microwave. If the pot can be put on the cooker top make sure that you are using any accessories the manufacturers have supplied to do this.
During cooking, the cooking pot lid will become hot so please always use oven gloves to protect your hands. The outer casking may also become hot after long cooking, so care should be taken. With small children at home I always ensure the slow cooker is pushed to the back of my kitchen work surface and the lead pushed to the back.
Occasionally you may find you notice a slight odour when you first cook with your slow cooker. This is often caused by the burning off of manufacturing residues and is pretty normal. You should notice it lessen and disappear after time.
Getting used to the temperature of your slow cooker
All slow cookers vary slightly. Even when using the same settings, some cookers will cook slower or faster than others. That is why recipes give a range of cooking times; you may need the shorter or the longer time, or perhaps like me you need somewhere between the two. You will need to cook in your slow cooker a few times to get to how quickly it cooks and adjust slow cooker recipes accordingly.
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