with a crock-pot is so easy that it should be fool-proof, but there are a few safety tips that may be helpful when using this method of cooking.
1. Food needs to reach at least 140 degrees as quickly as possible. It is a good idea to stay home one day while using your crock-pot to test how long it takes to reach appropriate temperatures. The food should reach at least 140 degrees after cooking on LOW for four hours. If this is not the case, you run the risk of growing bacteria that can make you sick. If your crock-pot doesn't reach this temperature within that timeframe, you probably need a new crock-pot.
2. If you can, try to cook on HIGH for the first hour of
cooking to bring the food temperature up fast.
3. Never put frozen food into the crock pot. Sticking unthawed food in the crock-pot makes it difficult for food to reach 140 degrees quickly enough causing bacteria to form.
4. Never store your food in the refrigerator in the crock-pot liner. That liner is very
thick, meaning it will take too much time to cool down the food. That slower cooling process could lead to bacteria growth.
5. Do not fill the crock-pot all the way to the top. Fill it one-half to two-thirds full.
6. Trim all excess fat from meats before adding to crock-pot.
7. Most meats require at least 8 hours of cooking on LOW.
8. Vegetable should be placed on the bottom of the crock-pot, because they do not cook as fast as meat.
9. Don't lift the lid to stir. This extends the cooking time by 20 minutes.
10. Ground meats must be cooked in a skillet before adding to the crock-pot.
11. Some seasonings such as cayenne pepper and Tabasco sauce become bitter if cooked for long periods of time. Add these toward the end of your cook time.
12. Liquids don't boil away in the crock-pot. Keep this in mind when converting recipes to be cooked in a slow cooker.