Few things are better than coming home at the end of the day to a freshly prepared meal. Slow cookers can help us achieve that dream.
While slow cookers may be synonymous with winter, you can use them any time of the year to safely prepare foods. In fact, using a slow cooker during the summer will help keep your home a little cooler as it keeps you from using a hot oven to prepare dinner.
A slow cooker cooks food at a low temperature over a longer period of time than other cooking methods. The pot’s heat, its lengthy cooking time and steam created by the tightly covered lid destroy harmful bacteria, making it safe for food preparation. As with any appliance or food preparation method, safe handling is extremely important when using a slow cooker. Remember these tips when using your slow cooker.
• Always wash your hands before and while preparing foods. Make sure your slow cooker, utensils and work area are clean before using the slow cooker.
• Always thaw meat or poultry in the refrigerator before putting it in the slow cooker. Keep perishable foods refrigerated until preparation time.
• Put vegetables in the slow cooker before meat or poultry because they take longer to cook.
• Only remove the lid to stir your meal or check for doneness.
• Cook foods at the proper settings according to the instructions of your recipe. If you are going to be gone all day, it is safe to cook foods on the low setting for the entire time.
Food will remain safe for consumption in the slow cooker as long as it is working. If a power outage occurs and you are not at home, throw the food away, even if it appears done. If you are home and the power goes out, finish cooking the food in the slow cooker by some other method that does not require electricity such as a gas stove or an outdoor grill.
For more information on food preparation and safety, contact the Letcher County Extension office.