07 September 2012

Care and feeding of your slow cooker

An hour to go before dinner, and the kitchen is still clean. No splatters, no crumbs; the horrors of the slow cooker's interior are well into the future:

Brand name clumsily edited out because no endorsement
intended or paid for. Yes, I bought this pattern on purpose
Of course, the manufacturer of your slow cooker will provide instructions for cleaning it. Other bloggers suggest letting it sit overnight, filled with water and soap, or a bleach solution, or a fabric softener sheet. But who uses fabric softener sheets? (Not this cheapskate.) And what if you need to use the slow cooker again tomorrow and wanted to soak beans overnight? (Note: stocking multiple slow cookers in the tiny Rowhouse Livin' kitchen is not a good option.) You can buy and use slow cooker liners, but we at Rowhouse Livin' are ex-hippies who don't like to spend money on disposables nor cook things in plastic when we don't have to. So after dinner we regularly put this:

Yum! Black beans!
. . . into the dishwasher or the sink for a good cleaning. But after a regular dishwasher cycle or a solid round of elbow grease with the rest of the pots and pans, it comes out looking like this:

Yum! Black bean residue!
So! Grab a plastic scrubber and some non-abrasive cleaner (you recognize the can):

The "scrubber" is a scrap from a sack of onions,
trimmed to a rectangle and folded over

Expert photography trick makes it look like a 10-gallon
can of cleaning powder being shaken into a sugar bowl

Note: No Barkeeper's Friend, Comet, oven cleaner (yes, I've actually seen it suggested, by evidently completely insane people, to soak a cooking vessel with a compound of butane, diethylene glycol monobutyl ether, and MEA, a chemical that can aggravate asthma, eat through skin, and irreversibly damage the kidneys and liver (PDF).) On the other hand, the non-toxic hippie result:

Perhaps you can hear my daughter in the background:
why are you taking pictures of the dishes?"

It's not as perfectly white as it was when I first bought the slow cooker. It likely never will be, unless I use some bleach on it. What's left in there does not flavor or color subsequent dishes -- at least not noticeably, since the vast majority of what we cook in it starts with or uses beans. And even Beano can't counteract MEA.

No comments: