Tag Archives | slow cooker

Giveaway: Slow Cook Modern by Liana Krissoff

These days, electric pressure cookers are the hot culinary appliance. And while I love the ability to cook and braise quickly, slow cookers will forever be at the top of my kitchen helper hit parade (as I type this, I have two running in my kitchen).

Happily Liana Krissoff, one of my favorite cookbook authors, is also a devoted slow cooker fan. Her brand new book, Slow Cook Modern, is the most useful and practical take on making dinner in the slow cooker that I’ve ever seen. It’s also a ridiculously beautiful book.

There are a lot of things that are brilliant about this book. First is the fact that all the slow cooker recipes are designed to cook for 8 hours. That means, you can set up your slow cooker in the morning, go to work, and actually come home to a meal (if you have a long commute time, make sure to use a slow cooker that will switch to ‘Keep Warm’ after a pre-programmed amount of time). So many slow cooker recipes are written to cook for 3-4 hours, which is not at all useful for people who work outside their homes.

The second thing that’s really inspired about this book is that every soup, stew, braise, and roast comes paired with a side recipe, as well as suggestions for other sides in the book that would go nicely with that dish. These sides are worth the price of admission alone.

All the recipes are organized by what you need to do the in the morning and what you’ll do just before serving. There are pages with ideas for what to do with leftovers. There are a handful of recipes for slow cooker stock. There’s a chili base that I want to make this week. There’s even a recipe for slow cooker quark that I’ll be sharing on Friday! So much goodness!

I feel like this is a book that I could spend the next couple years work through and exploring. I can’t wait to dig in (and the two eggplants in my fridge mean that the Eggplant Tian on page 28 will be happening this week).

Thanks to the lovely folks at Abrams, I have a copy of this brilliant book to giveaway this week. Let’s do this one the old school method.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share your favorite slow cooker dish.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Sunday, September 17, 2017. Winners will be chosen at random and this post will be updated with the winner.
  3. Giveaway open to United States and Canadian residents.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Abrams provided both review and giveaway copies at no cost to me. No additional compensation was provided. 

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Slow Cooker Peach Vanilla Butter

peaches on stove

Last month, when I had all those peaches from the Sweet Preservation folks, I did more than just make spiced peach jam. I also cooked up a slow cooker full of peach butter with flecks of vanilla bean and made a batch of mixed stone fruit jam.

peaches in blender

Because I’ve been running on fumes, I didn’t manage to share either of the two remaining techniques/recipes with you. However, I spent some time at various farmers markets this weekend and was reminded that there are still peaches to be had. And so, I’m trying to get them up while they still have some utility.

blending peaches

When it comes to making fruit butters, it’s important to remember that there are a lot of variables, and so it’s better to approach it as a technique than a strict recipe. Here are just some of the things that are up for grabs with slow cooker fruit butters.

Size of the slow cooker. My favorite model is a 40+ year old four quart cooker that cooks at a very low temperature. You might have a brand new one that has both a larger capacity and a higher cooking temperature.

Yield. Even if you had the exact same slow cooker as I did, chances are that your yield would still vary. That’s because ever batch of fruit is going to have different water and sugar content. If your fruit contains a lot of water, you’re going to have to cook longer to reach your desired consistency. Use your judgement and cook until you like the butter. It doesn’t matter if you have to run your slow cooker for five hours longer than I did, it is still okay.

more peaches

Time. There is just no way for me to predict how long a batch of butter will take in your slow cooker and that’s okay. Just fill the cooker up at least 3/4 the way up with puree and start cooking on low. Stir regularly. If you need to run an errand (or go to bed), turn the cooker off, put a lid on it and turn it back on in the morning. Towards the end, if you want to speed things up, turn the cooker on high and stir every ten minutes or so.

Sweeteners. Because fruit butters don’t depend on sugar for set (they become spreadable thanks to the fiber in the fruit), you can always sweeten your butter to taste. However, do remember that sugar is a preservative. That means that if you don’t use any sugar (or if you use a sugar substitute like Splenda or Stevia), the shelf life will be shorter.

propped slow cooker

Now, let’s talk about peeling peaches. Most of the time, when I work with peaches I take the time to peel them because I just don’t like the texture of the skin in the finished product. But not when I’m making butter with them. I find that if you puree the fruit before cooking in a sturdy blender, and then zap it again at the end of cooking with an immersion blender, you’re able to get a perfectly smooth butter, peels and all. This fact deeply pleases my inner lazy person.

full slow cooker

After reading all that, you might still be wondering how you make peach butter. Here’s how.

Slow Cooker Peach Vanilla Butter

Ingredients

  • Peaches
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • lemon juice (optional)
  • sugar, honey, or other sweetener, to taste

Instructions

  1. Puree enough peaches to fill your slow cooker at least 3/4 of the way up and pour them in.
  2. Scrape a vanilla bean and add the seeds to the puree.
  3. Set the cooker to low.
  4. Put a wooden spoon or chopstick across the mouth of the cooker and set the lid on top of it. This way, you vent the cooking butter.
  5. Cook for 2-3 hours and check. Stir and replace the propped lid.
  6. Keep checking and stirring every hour or two.
  7. If you need to go to bed, turn the butter off and set the lid on the cooker all the way. In the morning, prop the lid again and keep cooking.
  8. When the butter seems quite thick and spreadable, taste it and sweeten it to taste.
  9. Add some lemon juice at this time if you feel it could use a little brightening.
  10. Using an immersion blender, puree the butter so that it is smooth and emulsified.
  11. Funnel the butter into clean, hot half pint jars. Wipe the rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.
  12. Eat on toast, stirring into yogurt, or baked into quick breads all winter long.
http://foodinjars.com/2014/09/slow-cooker-peach-vanilla-butter/
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Slow Cooker Canning*: Apricot Peach Butter

peach-apricot butter

Yesterday was a two slow cooker day in my apartment (and apparently, I’m not the only one turning to a slow cooking during this heat wave). My six quart crock spent eight hours cooking a pork butt in unctuous submission (in a slurry of tomato butter, plum jam and cider vinegar) while my vintage four quart workhorse turned nine cups of peach and apricot puree into five cups of fruit butter.

Now, I’ve posted about fruit butters before. There’s my basic post about how to make a fruit butter. The orange-rhubarb butter. Strawberry-rhubarb butter. Blueberry butter. Tomato butter. There’s even a Q&A devoting to clarifying issues around making butters in the slow cooker. Obviously, this is well traveled turf in my kitchen and on this blog.

But it’s worth mentioning again. Because it’s so damn good and easy. This most recent butter of mine combines five cups of apricot puree with four cups peach puree (the proportions were born out of what I had in my kitchen, you don’t have to be wedded exactly to what I did).

Combine in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours, until it reduces by nearly half (prop the lid with a wooden spoon, so that the steam can escape). Add sugar to taste (this batch received 3/4 cup granulated white sugar). Process with an immersion blender should you want a finer texture. Funnel into jars (leaving 1/2 inch headspace) and process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes.

That’s it. You can use more sugar should you feel the need. You could add a little bit of cinnamon. A vanilla bean in the slow cooker along with the fruit could be nice. Lemon zest should it need a zing (this batch was plenty tart all on its own).

Eat on yogurt. Pair with cheese. Stir into oatmeal. Spread on toast. Love. Enjoy.

*Before you ask. No, you cannot process jars in a slow cooker. You can ONLY use it to cook a preserve.

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More on Fruit Butters in a Slow Cooker

an array of jams and butters

There were so many questions about cooking fruit butters in slow cookers left on the blueberry butter post that I thought I’d talk a little more about how it works, how to do it and why it’s a great technique. I do apologize that it’s taken me so long to get this posted, but such is life.

How would you go about getting lavender flavor into a batch of blueberry butter?

In my experience, there are two ways to infuse flavor into a preserve without leaving behind bits of the original flavor element. The first is to steep the flavor element in hot water or simple syrup until it is sufficiently potent.

The second way to go is to tie up a few spoonfuls of your flavor element in a bit of cheesecloth and let that packet steep while the preserves cook.

The first technique is just fine if you don’t mind adding a bit of additional liquid to your recipe. However, in the case of butter, you’re already going to spend hours cooking the existing liquid out of your fruit, so it doesn’t make sense to add more. So with this recipe, I would have used the cheesecloth packet technique, tasting regularly to determine when I thought the flavor was infused enough.

This may be very elementary, but why/how is it considered a butter? Also, what is the difference between a jam, jelly, butter, etc.

A fruit butter is named as such because it mimics the smooth spreadability of softened butter. It is cooked low and slow for a number of hours, in order to evaporate the excess liquid, concentrate the fruit flavors and intensify the innate sweetness in the fruit. Thanks to this concentration, it typically contains a minimal amount of additional sweetener.

Jams are made with whole fruit that is cooked with sugar until 220 degrees (or thereabouts). The sugar to fruit ratios are high. Some jams contain additional pectin to ensure a good set.

Jellies are made with fruit juice, sugar and pectin. They are well-gelled and don’t have any bits of fruit.

Can you process the blueberries in a food processor instead of a Vitamix.

You totally can. Just make sure to pulse it, you don’t want to turn it into juice.

Can you do this in a newer slow cooker?

You certainly can do this in a newer slow cooker. Just make sure to mind it a little bit more closely so that it doesn’t scorch. Regardless of what cooker you use, just make sure to fill it at least three quarters of the way full. The heating coils in a slow cooker go all the way up to the top, so if you leave too much of the cooker empty, the top of the butter can burn while the subterranean fruit pulp doesn’t cook sufficiently.

What else can you make in the crock pot?

You can do all number of fruit butters in the crock pot. I’ve followed the same formula for sweet cherry butter, apricot butter, fruit butter and peach butter. Delicious stuff, all of it.

If you have any other questions about making fruit butters in a slow cooker, feel free to leave them in the comments section. I will do my best to reply!

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