Seasoning Your Slow Cooking
A successful slow cooked dish will ultimately involve the perfect
combination of herbs, spices, and seasonings. When using herbs, it is
best to select dried options. These respond better to the long, moist
cooking process than their fresh counterparts. Thus, they will impart
more flavour into your dish. If you do want to use fresh herbs, you
should not add them until the last thirty minutes of cooking.
Additionally, not all herbs are equally potent. Therefore, you will want
to use certain varieties in larger or smaller amounts than others. As a
general rule, spices such as parsley, marjoram, and basil are fairly
light, while ginger, rosemary, and sage are stronger. Bay leaves are
also a strong herb, and only one to two of these are needed for soups
Using Spices in Slow Cookers
Spices, like dried herbs, should be added at the beginning of
cooking. However, some varieties, particularly chili spices, may become
bitter if cooked too long. Therefore, these should be added roughly
halfway through cooking. In general, whole spices are better suited to
slow cooking than ground varieties. This is because the whole spice will
have time to cook and release its flavour when used in the slow cooker.
In contrast, ground spices are often preferred in other types of cooking
where a long heating time is not viable. Some popular whole spices
include cumin, coriander, peppercorns, and cinnamon sticks. To save
time, you can simplify your dish by adding a pre-selected spice mix.
Look for varieties specifically suited for slow cooking to get the best
Prepared Sauces in your Recipes
Prepared sauces are another way to add flavour to your slow cooked
meals. For beefy stews, Worcestershire sauce and ketchup are popular
flavourings. Meanwhile, soy sauce or hoisin sauce are great for Asian
dishes. There are also fish, oyster, and anchovy sauces commonly used
when preparing seafood. A sub-category of seasoning sauces includes
pastes with strong flavours. Curry paste is used in many Middle Eastern,
Indian, and Thai dishes. You can also find adobo pastes used in Mexican
cooking. Be aware of how much of these pastes you add to your dishes.
They can often have strong, spicy flavours, which will be enhanced by the
slow cooking process.
Alcohol in Slow Cooker Recipes
Alcohol can also be used to flavour slow cooked dishes. Since alcohol
is fairly common in cooking, you may already be familiar with its
ability to add flavour to many dishes. However, using alcohol in your
slow cooker is somewhat different. Since less moisture is loss during
slow cooking, less alcohol will evaporate from your dish. Therefore, you
will not need to add as much alcohol to get the flavour you desire. As
for the types of alcohol used, this depends on the dish you are
preparing. When creating marinades for meat, beer, cider, and wine are
all great options. Beer is also popular in some stews, and wine is used
in a wide array of soups, sauces, and roasts. Meanwhile, cider can
sometimes be added to desserts, as can some more potent drinks like rum
or sweet liqueurs.
Extracts to Enhance your Recipes
A final category of seasonings are extracts. These are generally
sweet flavours that are added in very small amounts to meat dishes or
desserts. Perhaps the most popular extracts are those from almond and
vanilla. These are great for desserts and also preparing breakfast oats.
Lighter extracts include orange flower and rose water. These have a
delicate flavour that can enhance dishes when added near the end of
cooking. When using extracts, be sure to only add a few drops. The
flavour will grow exponentially during heating and you do not want to