Real food in a slow cooker

by Liz Beavis

My slow cooker has become one the most useful tools in my kitchen for producing real food that is also tasty and cheap.  I use the slow cooker most often for four different dishes:



Making Stock in a Slow Cooker

I used to think making stock was too hard.  And when I read Nourishing Traditions it sounded ever more difficult because the recommendation was to cook the stock for 12-24 hours, rather than just 2-3 hours I had read before.  I couldn't figure out how to make stock for that long.  Then I saw on a blog somewhere that I could use my slow cooker (sorry I can't link back, I forget where now, but this is another good example).  I felt so stupid that I didn't think of this myself!!  It is so easy and you don't have to worry about burning the house down.  

I keep bones and vege scraps in a bag in the freezer and when I start to run low on stock (or if we cook a roast chicken), I'll load up the slow cooker with everything from the freezer, add a carrot, onion, anything excess from the garden, lots of herbs, pepper corns and some apple cider vinegar to release all the minerals.  Fill up the slow cooker with water and leave for up to 24 hours.  Then I just strain out the liquid into a large pot or container and let it cool in the fridge and then into smaller containers (usually old butter containers) and into the freezer.




Casserole in a Slow Cooker

We originally bought the slow cooker after we had a steer killed and the meat was rather tough.  The slow cooker is very useful for cooking cheaper cuts of meat until they are tender.  I use it to cook cuts like round, chuck, even rump and y-bone.  I also cook any of the older hens or roosters when we cull them.  The young ones are nice as roast meat, but the older ones are better as casserole.  

My basic recipe is to brown the meat in a separate pan and put the cooked meat in the slow cooker.  Then I will fry onions and garlic and maybe sliced carrot, celery, or any other vege that we have in excess.  When they are wilted, I add stock and wine, bring to the boil and tip that into the slow cooker.  Then I add a few herbs, usually thyme, oregano and rosemary.  

That will cook for 6-8 hours and be lovely and tender.  Before serving, I stir in some flour mixed in water to thicken the sauce, and any green leafy veges and some chopped parsley.  This is a good way to use up leftovers and scraps of veges as well as cheaper cuts of meat.  I will usually start a casserole in the morning before work (sometimes chop things up the night before, so its just a matter of throwing it all in the pan and then into the slow cooker), and its ready for dinner when we get home.


Summer Pot Roast in a Slow Cooker

In summer, when its over 30degC in the house, turning on the oven is not an attractive idea, so I tend to cook a roast in the slow cooker or outside in the Webber BBQ.  The slow cooker is great for "pot roasts", especially rolled rib roast, but any cut of roast can be cooked like this.  I just use pretty much the same method as for the casserole, except I fish out the roast before thickening the sauce.


I didn't have a photo of soup, so here's "rendering fat" instead!


Soup in a Slow Cooker

I like to make soup, but I don't like to be stuck at home minding it while it cooks.  If I make the soup in the slow cooker, I know it won't stick to the bottom, and I can leave the house without worrying about leaving the soup on the gas burner.  The soup generally doesn't need as long to cook as the casserole or roast, so I don't leave it while we're at work, but I do leave it for a few hours while doing other chores.

Do you use a slow cooker?  Any tips?

More posts about real food here


More posts about Nourishing Traditions chapters:

Nourishing Traditions - start to finish
Nourishing Traditions - grains and legumes
Nourishing Traditions - main meals and more
Nourishing Traditions - mastering the basics
Nourishing Traditions - snacks, deserts and superfoods


  • Linnie

    Hello Liz :) I just found your blog somehow and subscribed as I like reading blogs from other subtropical area growers as plant species and etc are relevant :)
    I hadn’t used a slow cooker for decades, as I always worried about how much power it used, but in the last few years I’ve been making bulk lots of curry, which requires a long, slow cook. The reason for the change of heart was because I found a non-electric camp cooker in a camping shop. It looks similar to a slow cooker, but there’s no power source. The inside pot (stainless steel) is removed from inside the camp cooker and used to cook on the stovetop, and once the food is adequately heated through it is removed from the stove, it’s lid put on, and it slots straight into the heavily insulated outer casing of the camp cooker. (NB…To make sure the food is ‘safe’ you need to have brought the food to the boil and then take off the boil and keep it at a rolling simmer for 25 mins.. Then you put the lid on the pot and place it inside the camping cooker. Close the camp cooker lid down and it will continue to maintain the heat for up to 7 hours depending on the volume of food cooked. It makes a great tender curry, lots to freeze, and not much power used. :) I use it camping as well as at home. If you throw a meal together at midday you can head off swimming or bushwalking etc and come back and it’s perfect for dinner. Our fellow camping friends were so impressed two of them bought their own so they don’t have to borrow ours anymore. :)

  • Diana

    I cook corned beef in the slow cooker and excess fruit too, apples and peaches turn out great ! I use my slow cooker on a regular basis and in fact have two !

  • Chris

    They’re also great for making preserves, without having the bottom of your pan, burning. I usually make my choko and fruit chutney in a slow cooker.

    I had a one, just like yours, but it broke recently. I think I overfilled it, consequently, it dribbled down the sides and into the metal heating pan. This created steam at the base, increased the temperature, and subsequently cracked the base of the ceramic bowl. So here’s a tip, don’t overfill your crock pot! ;)

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