The crock pot, or slow cooker, is a wonderful time saving kitchen appliance. Using this appliance takes only a few minutes of preparation time, and the meal cooks while you are away at work or play. My favorite slow cooker has an attached spoon and clips that prevent spills when taking the pot to a luncheon or family reunion. Below are a few slow cooker tips that will help ensure satisfaction with your slow cooker appliance.
- If you prepare your food the night before, keep vegetables and meats separated to prevent possible bacterial contamination.
- Do not use the crock or insert in the oven or on the stove top unless the manufacturer certifies it for that use.
- Left over food should be transferred to another container before storing in the refrigerator. The crock can crack or break if moved from one temperature extreme to another.
- Do not take the crock from the refrigerator and place in the cooking unit. Even if the crock does not crack due to temperature differences, the food will take much longer to cook. Also, the extra time it takes to get the food to cooking temperature may allow bacterial growth to occur.
- Use a thermometer when cooking meat and poultry to ensure the temperature is high enough to keep your food safe. Poultry should reach 180 degrees F, beef and pork should reach 160 to 170 degrees F, and meatloaf should reach 165 degrees F.
- Fill your crock or slow cooker to at least 1/2 full. If less than 1/2 full, the pot cannot cook properly.
- Never put your crock in the freezer.
- Wash a new ceramic crock with warm sudsy water before first use to remove manufacturing oils.
- When removing stuck on food, let the crock soak briefly in warm, sudsy water, then scrub with a nylon or plastic scrubbie. Never use a metal scrubbie or steel wool on your crock.