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I love using a slow cooker, being able to set it and forget it means you can focus on other projects or have a home-cooked meal ready for you when you get home from work. But did you know there are uses for your crockpot other than just cooking in it? Here are some tips and hacks that aren’t all just about food.
1. Slow Cooker Liners, I mention these in every slow cooker recipe I’ve posted, but I really do love using them. They cut the cleanup time to practically nothing. I ran out a few months ago and made chili without using a liner, what a mess and hours of soaking and cleaning. I have them as part of my Subscribe and Save now and never run out. Slow Cooker Liners are BPA-free and FDA-compliant for cooking.
Create a divider
2. Create a divider. Use aluminum foil and slow cooker liners to create a divider in your slow cooker, and use one crock pot for two different dips. Line each half of the slow cooker using a Reynolds Kitchens Slow Cooker Liner. Fold a piece of Heavy Duty Foil so that you have a foil wall between each bag, or if the bag is big enough you can use one bag with a foil wall dividing it in the middle. Slowly pour in your dips, a little on each side as you go so that the foil divider stays in place.
Cook your main dish and sides together
3. Cook your main dish and sides at the same time. Cook baked potatoes or corn on the cob with your roast, but keep the flavors separate by wrapping individual items in aluminum foil. You can also use a Reynolds Slow Cooker Liner for the main dish while putting the side dishes around the outside of the bag.
4. Cook in a water bath. To keep foods from drying out or overcooking, use a water bath. Cook your food in a separate dish placed inside of the slow cooker with water poured in around the outside of the dish. Perfect for Slow Cooker Cheesecake, oatmeal, or melting chocolate for dips. For melting chocolate use mason jars with chocolate chips, almond bark, or candy melts. Add an inch or so of water around the outside of the jars (no more than 1/2 way up the side of the jar), and cook on high for 30 minutes (uncovered). Then turn to low or warm and use the melted chocolate for dipping fruit, cookies, pretzels, cake pops, etc.
5. Convert any oven-baked recipe into a slow cooker recipe with this Slow Cooker Conversion Chart:
Slow Cooker Conversion Chart
Slow Cooker Low
Slow Cooker High
6. Cleaning, according to the Crock Pots website glass lids and removable stoneware can be cleaned with hot, soapy water or in the dishwasher. When you do get a stuck-on mess or a white film remains after cleaning you can:
Fill your slow cooker with water until it’s just above the leftover food line.
Add 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar for a 3-quart slow cooker or 1 cup for a 6-quart slow cooker.
Slowly pour in 1/2 cup of baking soda for a 3-quart slow cooker, or 1 cup for a 6-quart slow cooker, allowing the bubbles time to die down before pouring more in.
Cover and set your slow cooker to LOW for 1 hour.
When the hour is up, remove the lid and use a soft sponge to clean away any residue.
7. If you don’t have a programmable timer built into your slow cooker, you can use an inexpensive Christmas light timer. A programmable timer will allow you to set the slow cooker to start cooking or shut off when you want it to.
8. Use a kitchen towel or paper towel to catch condensation while cooking. When you are cooking something that you don’t want to get condensation on, place a clean kitchen towel or paper towel under the lid to catch the drops. Works great for bread and cheesecake.
9. Don’t open your slow cooker while it’s in use. Unless you are supposed to add an ingredient or the directions call for you to stir at some point, avoid lifting the lid. It can take up to half an hour to get the temp back up again. Only open if absolutely necessary.
10. Use your slow cooker as a humidifier. Add a little Vick’s vapor rub (optional) and fill 3/4 full of water, turn to high, cover with the lid, and let it heat up until it’s steaming. Remove the lid and turn it to low, allowing moisture to escape into the room. Make sure it always remains at least half full of water. Great for dry winter months when you feeling congested.
11. Make candles, cut up or shave old candles, or use soy wax chips. Fill small heatproof jars with wax chips and place them in the slow cooker. Add water halfway up the outside of the jars. Place a dish towel or paper towel under the lid to catch any condensation. Set on high and let melt for about 45 minutes. Add more wax as needed and continue heating until fully melted. Very carefully remove each jar using an oven mitt. Stir in wax dye or essential oils for scent if desired.
Add a wick and let cool completely, for at least an hour, before trimming the wick.
12. Use your slow cooker for potpourri. Fill the slow cooker 2/3 full of water then add dried potpourri to the water. Cover with the lid and allow to simmer. Make sure the pot is filled with enough water to cover the dried potpourri. You can also create your own potpourri using fresh or dried orange peels, apple slices, cloves, pine cones, cinnamon, dried flower petals, or herbs.