Slow cookers/crock pots are typically reserved for making soups and stews. But did you know that they have many other uses, some of which will surprise you?
(Hint, they’re not all food-related. The feature image of the pretty soap was no accident – for once!)
Here are six interesting ways to use a slow cooker.
Cook a whole chicken
Slow cooking a whole chook is a great option, especially if you don’t have an oven, your oven’s otherwise occupied, or you want to avoid heating up the whole house (e.g. in summer).
All you need to do is remove the giblets from the cavity (you can use them for stock or gravy later) and pat the chicken dry with paper towel. Then place the chicken breast side up on a metal trivet or three balls (each around 8 cm wide) of aluminium foil*. This ensures sufficient air flow around the chicken, as well as preventing it from sitting in its own liquids for too long.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper, set the cooker on HIGH, and cook it for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours (or for 4-5 hours on LOW).
To check that the chicken is fully cooked, the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh should be at least 75 C. Let the chicken rest on a cutting board for 15 minutes before serving.
See the full instructions here.
*If you have concerns about using aluminium foil when heating food, avoid this method.
Another great use for the slow cooker is for baking bread.
Get one batch of bread dough, shape it depending on your preference and the size of your cooker, and place it on a square of parchment paper. Bake it on HIGH for 1 to 2 1/2 hours.
For your first few times baking bread in the slow cooker, you might need to experiment a bit to perfect your methods, so check after one hour in the cooker, then more frequently as it nears the end of its cooking time.
The bread is considered well-baked if it reaches an internal temperature of 90C, the top of the loaf feels soft but no longer spongy, and the bottom is hard and slightly golden.
For full instructions, see here.
Slow cookers are a terrific way to bake those sweet sweet desserts.
In the case of Gemma’s scrumptious hot fudge brownies, the fact that slow cookers can bake and steam at the same time makes for a gorgeously soft and succulent dessert.
Check out Gemma’s recipe here.
Image: Bigger Bolder Baking
NON-FOOD USES FOR A SLOW COOKER
As promised, here are some of the amazing non-food things you can do with the slow cooker.
Note that a few of these items use ingredients that aren’t safe for human ingestion – which is why it might come in handy to have a second cooker (or clean the main cooker really really well between uses!)
There’s no need to use harsh chemicals or a lot of muscle to remove paint from doorknobs and other hardware. Simply fill the pot with water, add a few drops of laundry detergent, and set the temperature to MEDIUM. Place your hardware pieces in the water and allow them to sit overnight. The next day, use tongs to remove the hardware and immediately scrub the paint off with a rag. A toothbrush will help with more stubborn paint.
Making your own soap is terrific because you can customise the scents according to your preferences. It also means you can avoid the unnatural ingredients found in most commercial soaps, and craft thoughtful gifts for friends and family.
All you need is distilled water, lye, olive oil, coconut oil, and fragrant liquid oils of your choice. These are items you can easily find in your local supermarkets and hardware stores.
For full instructions on how to make your own soap safely, see here.
Freshen the air
Baking soda can fix just about anything, and eliminating odours is no exception.
For a natural way to freshen the air in your home, fill a slow cooker with water and add some baking soda. Set it on LOW and place the uncovered pot in the room that needs de-stinking.
For extra pizzazz, you can also throw in a few drops of essential oils, a slice of lemon or your favourite spices.
See Stephanie’s full instructions here.