Slow cooking

Compostwoman’s recent(ish) post about her new slow cooker and the photos of their first meal from it has made me want to dust off our slow cooker. I haven’t used it much recently, but B and I always used to enjoy its contents about once a week – such an easy way to cook, especially if you know you’re going to be home late. Our favourite meal was brisket with potatoes, leeks, carrots, peas, beans… pretty much any vegetable going, plus a stock cube. Chuck it all in (I used to put the potatoes in first, put the meat on top of them, pour in the stock, chuck in the remaining veggies and then top up with water from the kettle til the meat was covered), put it on auto and come home 10 hours later for a yummy-licious meal.


So last night I set about googling some recipes and, as you do, ended up at Wikipedia. Only to discover that:

Vitamins and other trace nutrients are lost, particularly from vegetables, partially by enzyme action during cooking. When vegetables are cooked at higher temperatures these enzymes are rapidly denatured and have less time in which to act during cooking. Since slow cookers work at temperatures well below boiling point and do not rapidly denature enzymes, vegetables tend to lose trace nutrients. Blanched vegetables, having been exposed to very hot water, have already had these enzyme rendered largely ineffective, so a blanching or sauteing pre-cook stage will leave more vitamins intact. Green colors are retained better when vegetables are cooked quickly as plant cells are less likely to lose acids.


Turns out that my idea of a super healthy, very yummy and quick n easy stew / casserole might be yummy and quick (you know what I mean) but isn’t actually that healthy.

Back to the drawing board?

Or has anyone got any suggestions?

7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by welshpurpletree on 17 October 2008 at 10:28 am

    Does doing a casserole in the oven have the same disadvantages? I usually do one every week, swede, onion, parsnip, carrots, with either stewing steak or a couple of chicken breasts, and a pint of stock then cook it in the oven for an hour. Serve with rice or potatoes. I thought it was a good cheap, healthy tea.

  2. An hour is good. I think it’s the 10-12 hours that ruins things….

  3. But if you use the sauce/gravy that all the ‘trace mineral’ seep out of the veggies and into, then you are still taking them in. So, it is a healthy way of cooking if you mop up the juices! New to your site via little ffarm dairy.

    cheers, HDR

  4. Hey! Where did you get your kune kune pigs??!!

  5. Ah, thanks HDR 😀 With wonderful news like that, you are most welcome over here at my humble blog!

    As for the Kune Kunes, I got them from a variety of sources: ads in the local paper and word of mouth.

    Which reminds me, I really must get round to advertising my piglets before they take over!

  6. Oooh I have only just noticed you limked to me! Thank you… :-))

    One thing we mainly do is use the slow cooker for cheap cuts ( well cheaper, as it is organic, its not cheapo cheap!) of meat, with onions and maybe a few bits of carrot, herbs and liquid…but then cook the veg separately ( steamed usually in a 3 tier one to save energy)

    So after 3 or 4 hours we get wonderful meat and gravy, and in 20 mins ish the veg is done…

    I suppose we use it instead of putting the meat to braise in the oven,so as to save elec.

    I have linked my blog to yours…I hope thats ok?

  7. Hi Compostwoman, many thanks for the link 🙂

    I’ve always used the slow cooker to help me out when I’ve been really busy, such as when I would get home from work at 11pm and want dinner, hence using the same “recipe” most of the time and chucking everything in.

    As for the cheap meat, I’ve used the proper cheapo cuts and while you can still tell, the many hours of gentle coking really does eradicate the cheapiness of the meat. Far as I’m concerned, an expensive bit of meat is wasted in the slow cooker!

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