The Easiest Way To Remove Extra Liquid From Your Slow Cooker Meals

Slow cooker meals are indispensable when you want to spend the whole day out without sacrificing a lovingly prepared homemade dinner. Simply do the prep work in the morning, and voila — you'll return to a bubbling stew, fiery chili, or aromatic pot of beef bourguignon. However, if you're new to slow cooking and haven't quite mastered its nuances, it can be tempting to add lots of liquid to the pot to guarantee that your meal doesn't boil dry while left unattended. If you're guilty of this, you may have returned to a meal that looks brothier than the rich, unctuous stew you were aiming for. The good news is you can remove this extra liquid with a ladle or leave the lid ajar to encourage evaporation and thicken the sauce — just wait until the end of the cooking process to do it.

Most slow cooker recipes don't require huge amounts of liquid because these clever kitchen gadgets inherently have a very low evaporation rate. As the food in the pot heats, the generated steam condenses to create a vacuum seal under the lid. Keeping the lid on stops the liquid from evaporating into the air by trapping it within the pot, lessening the chance of its contents boiling dry.

So if you've added too much liquid, why not just take the lid off periodically to allow the liquid to evaporate? Because every time you lift the lid, the vacuum seal breaks, causing the temperature to drop and slow down the cooking process by up to 30 minutes.

Wait to ladle out the excess liquid

While you might be eager to get rid of any excess liquid in your pot as soon as you can, try to hold off until cooking is nearly complete. Aside from temperature interruptions adding to your cooking time, there's safety to consider; the steam coming off the cooking liquid can cause steam burns, and attempting to remove the pot from the slow cooker to drain it is unsafe while it's filled with hot food and liquid that can scald the skin and cause dangerous spillages. The better option is to wait until it's no longer mid-cook and use a ladle to decant the hot liquid into another vessel (while wearing oven mitts or other protection, of course!). This trick also means you can remove as much liquid as you need without lifting the whole pot off the electric base of the cooker, and you can easily retain the liquid to use in other recipes or boil in a separate pan for a lip-smacking gravy.

If you only have a small volume of extra liquid in the pot, another option is to partially prop the lid open and leave the slow cooker to finish doing its thing. This way, any steam generated will escape through the gap instead of condensing and falling back into the pot. This will cause the juices in the bottom of the dish to thicken to your desired consistency so you can enjoy a rich, savory jus with your slow-cooked roast or a sweet syrup with your jammy apple pie filling.