Slow-cooker and pressure-cooker basics

slow cooker

Slow-cookers

"Cooks all day while the cook's away!" This motto from the original Crock-pot company says it all.

Crock-pots and other brands of slow-cookers are famous for making quick, nutritious meals that don't require a watchful eye on the oven or the stovetop. They have been used since the early 1970s and are famous for tenderizing meats (especially tough, less expensive cuts) but they can be used to make a variety of dishes — everything from hearty soups to luscious desserts!

If you're preparing a big meal and the oven is full, a slow-cooker works as a "second" oven, perfect for a second chicken or a pot of stew. They also are convenient for summer cooking — try using them instead of an oven to keep the kitchen cool.

It's important to get to know your slow-cooker. Many newer models heat more quickly than older models and the "high" and "low" temperature settings often vary between makes and models.

Slow-cookers also work for desserts — the low, steady heat is perfect for dense cakes, crumbles, custards and bread puddings.

Try this recipe for Easy Pulled Pork.

Pressure-cookers

Like the slow-cooker, the pressure cooker is a time- and money-saving appliance that is as versatile as it is handy. It looks like any other kitchen pot, except its lid is a bit more elaborate and works to seal the pot completely.

When the liquid inside boils, it traps steam and builds up pressure. This allows higher cooking temperatures and shorter cooking times — and seals moisture and flavor into your foods.

You may have heard that pressure-cookers can explode but don't worry — newer models have safety features that prevent dangerous messes.

Set your pressure-cooker on "low" to cook more delicate foods such as fish, fruits and vegetables, or turn up the heat for cooking beans, meat, and poultry. Once you get comfortable using it for daily meals, try canning your own tomatoes, peaches, or other fruits and vegetables — they'll store in your pantry for months.

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