Remember back to the first time on your own; you moved into your own place and took with you numerous hand-me-downs from your parent's house. As time passes, you replace each piece one at a time, moving ahead with your own things. However, it seems that recently there's been a lot of buzz as to why you may not want to buy a new crock pot.
I've been reading a lot of crock pot cooking forums lately and there seems to be a common thread; Many people are discouraged from cooking with their new slow cookers. Why is this? What has come to pass to make newer crock pots more frustrating to cook with than older ones? I saw so many posts claiming that people had returned their new slow cooker and dug out the one from their grandmother, or went rummaging around to thrift shops and garage sales to find a "good old crock pot" for $ 5 or less. And yet, many of those people do not realize that there's an excellent reason why your slow cooker does not cook quite as slowly anymore; it's for your own safety.
The US Food and Drug Administration states that bacteria grows the fastest between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the meat, it needs to be cooked to a minimum of 145 degrees Fahrenheit to kill most bacteria (poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and ground meat to 160 degrees Fahrenheit). Even if your food is historically cooked to the proper temperature, if it stays too long in the 40-140 range, it will house much more bacteria than if cooked properly.
Since the FDA also recommends that food be refrigerated at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, then how do we get it from 40 to 140 as quickly as possible, therefore preventing growth of bacteria? At this point, it may seem as if you should throw out every "slow" cooker you own. But hold on!
That is exactly the reason why the new slow cookers do not cook as slowly as the older models do; it's all for your health and safety. However, manufacturers have also realized that the main benefit people seek from using their crock pot is to start dinner in the morning before work, go work an 8-10 hour day, and then come home to a fully prepared meal. In realizing this, they have added bells and whistles to their models, with keep warm and buffet settings, automatic timers, and much more.
What does this mean for you? First of all, test your crock pot. Fill your crock pot half full with water. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Remove the lid and immediately take the water temperature. This must be done quickly as the temperature of the water can drop as much as 10-15 degrees each minute.
The water temperature should be 185 degrees Fahrenheit (or 85 degrees Celsius).
Second, do not be scared of your new crock pot; it may take some getting used to. Third, make sure you're filling it the correct amount; if you do not have the correct amount of food in your crock pot (no less than half but no more than two-thirds full) your meal will not turn out right.
I just recently purchased a new crock pot and had the luxury of being able to closely monitor the first few meals I made in it. Yes, it does cook a lot faster than my old one. Once I got used to it and began to use my keep warm, simmer, and buffet settings, each meal turned out perfectly. Most importantly, I love knowing that cooking with my new crock pot is much safer and healthier for my family.