Thursday, May 8, 2014

Why won’t my crock pot…or slow cooker…cook vegetables and other crock pot dilemmas

Thanks for responding to my question – do you have a crock pot or slow cooker or at least a good pot for making soup? A Facebook friend said that she doesn’t like to make soup in her crock pot because the veggies don’t cook. The meat cooks just fine, but not the veggies! Why?
What's wrong with MY crock pot or slow cooker??

I’ve had every size, brand, etc. of crock pot and slow cooker there is. West Bend, Hamilton Beach, Rival…in every size, shape, color – removable and not removable crock. I even had one in burnt orange from the 70s. Yeah…from the 1970s.

My oldest one – a West Bend that was probably also from the 1970s – never cooked evenly for me. If directions said to cook something 6 to 8 hours on low it took my West Bend 8 to 10 hours. And if I tried to cook something on high? Forget about it! It would burn the heck out of whatever I was making. I ended up using that one primarily for making vegetable broth or other meat stocks for soups and stews.
I have also had issues with my crock pot not cooking vegetables properly for soup. Not since I bought a brand new Rival crock pot, but in the past, even my newish Hamilton Beach gave me problems. I found I had to pre-cook the veggies just a little bit. I had to make sure that vegetables like carrots and potatoes were cut into as close to the exact size as possible or they would not cook evenly. Some would be fine, other’s would be hard as rocks.

If your crock pot or slow cooker is old, or if you purchased it at a thrift store or garage or yard sale, consider replacing it. Wait for sales – Walmart and Target are great places to watch for deals – especially when they offer rebates OR Target offers gift cards for purchasing something. The BEST time to buy a brand spanking new crock pot or slow cooker is during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday frenzy. You can get a decent sized Rival for less than $15 if you watch carefully – and check out your favorite store’s website. I’ve seen Walmart put Rival crock pots on sale on their website but not in-store. And you can get free site-to-store shipping.

The best brands for slow cookers are West Bend and Hamilton Beach, in my opinion. And there is only one brand that can actually call it a crock pot – and that’s Rival. They may be a little more expensive, but they are worth every penny. The one I had in burnt orange from the 1970s? Yeah, I still have it! It’s small and I usually only make dessert in it, but it is still very reliable and I love it!

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