Slow Cooker Vegetable Tips
Cereal and Grains
Untreated long grain rice will not absorb water properly in a slow cooker. Go for treated rice which may be called easy-cook, or par-boiled.
Heat the cooking liquid before adding rice.
Rye should be soaked overnight before cooking.
Fry grains for three or four minutes first to speed up cooking time.
Rinse grains in cold water before cooking.
Beans and Peas
Lentils and split peas don't have to be soaked before cooking.
Most dried beans need soaking overnight before cooking in twice their volume of water. Don't soak for more than 24 hours or they will start to ferment.
Beans should be fast boiled for ten minutes before adding to vegetarian crockpot recipes to remove toxins. Specially kidney beans.
Salt and acid juices such as lemon or tomato will toughen bean skins and stop them cooking. Add these when beans are cooked.
Pre-frying inions decreases cooking time.
Spanish onions (Bermuda onions) have a mild flavour.
Red onions are mild and sweet.
White onions (most common) are strongest.
Garlic gets milder with long cooking times. You might like to add more.
Spring onions have a very subtle flavour.
There is no need to peel mushrooms just rinse them.
Trim dry stem ends, tough Shiitake stems and Portabella roots. All other mushroom stems can be cooked with the caps.
Slow cooking mushrooms for a long time darkens the dish. If you want mushrooms to retain their shape, put them in for the last two hours.
Portabella mushroom have a firm texture and can be used as a meat substitute in vegetarian crockpot recipes.
Dried mushrooms absorb water and thicken a recipe. Pre-soak for a few minutes in boiling water before adding.
Root Vegetables and Tubers
Firm root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, turnips, swedes and parsnips take a long time to cook and should be cut small, then placed in the bottom of the crockpot and covered with water or stock.
Sweet potatoes hold their shape best if cooked without peeling. If peeled and you want to keep the shape, add for the last four hours. If cooked for the whole cooking time, they will partially disintegrate and add flavour to the gravy.
Slow cooking tomatos can toughen the skins and the seeds become bitter. Remove skin and seeds before cooking.
Aubergines (eggplant) can be bitter and should be sliced and salted for half an hour, then rinsed before adding.
Sweet peppers (bell peppers) are best used ripened. (orange or red).
Leafy Vegetables and Brassica
Cauliflower and broccoli should be cut into 'florets' and the stems discarded.
Chop cabbage and spinach finely and add for the last hour of cooking.
Easy-cook pasta works best.
Pasta will go soggy if cooked all day. Two to three hours from cold, and half an hour if added to hot sauce.
100% durum wheat pasta keeps its shape best. Fresh pasta is not suitable for a slow cooker.