Saturday, June 25, 2016

Remember Food Safety Rule Apply To Slow Cookers Too!

Slow cookers are a great way to prepare healthy food year round and there are many tasty recipes on the internet for you to try.  But some posted recipes can actually put your family in danger.  Those that are most discerning are the ones suggesting putting frozen food into the slow cooker without thawing first.  This excerpt from a blog post by Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University explains why.

The reality is that putting frozen food in a slow cooker provides an excellent opportunity for bacteria to grow as the food and the slow cooker make their way slowly through the temperature danger zone (TDZ) to a safe minimum internal temperature.   Thawing at room temperature and then putting on low temperature to cook is just asking for trouble with bacteria growth.

I really do love the idea of planning ahead and doing some “mass preparation” to save time and have food ready to go when needed. So, what would make these recipes a little more appealing and safer?
Check out the recipes you’d really like and start with only a few meals. Make sure your family likes the outcomes and that many slow cooked meals before you get a freezer full. This will also eliminate the possibility of overloading the freezer.

Then, freeze the vegetable/seasonings and meat in separate bags. This would allow you to brown the meat before putting it in the slow cooker in the morning. Taking the time to do this can provide better color and flavor to the final product and also it helps speed the meat through the temperature danger zone.

Most of the recipes say to take the bag from the freezer the night before and allow it to thaw in the refrigerator.  While thawing in the refrigerator is the best method, one overnight may not be enough, so you may need to plan ahead a little more.

Use the appropriate packaging materials and then use them for their intended purpose.  There’s no reason that you can’t use slow cooker liners for easy clean-up, they just aren’t intended for freezer storage.

As you’re getting ready in the morning, start the food off on high and then turn it to low before you leave the house. This helps jump start the temperature in the slow cooker and rushes the food through the TDZ.

To read the whole article click here Food Safety and the Slow Cooker

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