During the winter months I tend to use my crock pot on a weekly basis slow cooking everything from soups to pot roasts. I often wonder about the safety of the food I am preparing in it and just what are the cooking instructions and suggestions when it comes to preparing meals for my family in my crock pot. Seek and you will find – I found a great list of crock pot food safety suggestions that I though might also interest you.
Crock Pot Food Safety
Info from About.com and FDA
140F. is the temp food needs to reach as quickly as possible- within 1 ½ hrs.
To test the temp of your crock pot fill w/ 2 qts. Water, cover and simmer on low heat for 8 hrs. Check the temp with a thermometer, it should read 185F. If it is higher your food may cook faster, so you will need to adjust your cooking time, but if it is lower you should discard the cooker and buy a new one.
If possible cook food on high the first hour, and then return to low.
1hr. on high is equal to about 2 hrs on low.
Experts say that you should not put frozen foods into your crock pot. Especially if you have at risk people in your household, under age 2, elderly, immune compromised.
You do not need to brown meats before adding to crock pot, except for ground meats. However, browning meat ahead reduces fat and adds flavor and color.
When preparing the night before for a crock pot meal, store meat and cut up vegetables separately in the refrigerator. Assemble in the morning
Vegetables cook faster than meat, so put them on the bottom
Fill crock pot no less than 1/2 full and no more than 2/3 full
Try not to remove the lid during cooking, each time you do it adds 20 min onto the cooking time
Place leftover in shallow containers and refrigerate. Do not put the crock into the frig. It will take too long to cool down and you will risk food poisoning.
Don’t reheat leftovers in the crock pot. It is not safe as it takes too long to reheat.
Power Outages and Crock Pots
In the event of a power outage and you have left your home with your crock pot going and return to discover the power is out, the food may not be safe. It is best to throw it out.
If a power outage occurs when you are home with your crock pot going, if the cooking is not done you need to finish that by another source, a gas stove, a neighbor’s house with power, a grill if possible.
If the food was done cooking when the power outage occurred it should be safe for up to 2 hrs with the lid on.
Cleaning your Crock Pot
It is very helpful to use a nonstick cooking spray prior to cooking. You can also purchase crock pot liners. Reynolds makes them.
Soak you liner in hot soapy water for 15- 20 minutes
Clean with a dish rag or a nylon net pad.
Never use an SOS pad or other harsh, abrasive cleaner.
Some things to consider when buying a crock pot
Size: Buy according to the size of your family. A 5-6 qt. pot works well for families of 4-5. For a larger family a 6-7qt. works better.
Removable Liner: Most new models have this feature now.
Elements: Should be on the sides and not just the bottom
Shape: Ovals are better suited to the shape of roasts and whole chickens
Features and Controls: Should have a least high and low. Some offer advanced pre-programmable features. An auto switch from high to low is very nice. Some have an auto shut-off as well.
Lid: Glass is nice, should seat well and the rim should not be difficult to clean
Handles: Need to be sturdy and stay cool so that you are able to lift and move the unit.
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