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Old 02-01-2012, 08:37 AM   #1
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Slow Cooker - Timer

I've just been given my first slow cooker (Morphy Richards 2.5l). It has 3 heat settings but no integral timer...so I was also given a plug in external timer to use with it (as I'm often out of the house for hours longer than the recipes require).

My queries:
-The manufacturers instructions state that only hot liquid should be put in the crock. Is this absolutely necessary? What are the implications of a) adding cold liquid but increasing the cooking time or b) adding hot liquid then letting it sit before the timer switches on?
-How long will the crock safely keep food hot once switched off?

I'm happy to experiment but obviously want to avoid poisoning!? I'd be really grateful for any pointers please. Thanks!


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Old 02-01-2012, 10:29 AM   #2
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I never put hot water in mine. Sometimes I put frozen chicken stock and/or frozen meat. So if that is dangerous I haven't gotten sick yet. Also, you cannot really overcook in a slow cooker, IMO, if you keep it on low. Just do not stir often as things like beans and potatoes will fall apart. But this is just what I do.

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Old 02-01-2012, 10:59 AM   #3
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The hot liquid is so that foods won't stay in the food poisoning zone ( 40 - 140F) for too long. If you start cold or room temp foods in cold or room temp liquid and it doesn't come up to temp fast enough bacteria and spores can infect the food.

This may pose a problem for you since your slow cooker can't automatically switch settings.

Many recipes call for food to cook on high for some period of time and then switch to low so as not to overcook it or boil dry. So food comes to safe temp faster, then switches to normal slow cooking mode.

You probably shouldnt switch it off and leave it for more than a short time.
Less is not more. More is more and more is fabulous.
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Old 02-01-2012, 01:40 PM   #4
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Location: Aurora, Colorado
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My Crock Pot is much older and doesn't have a timer on it. I'm not sure
why you would want one....I wouldn't want it to shut off, and me be away
at the time, and food would sit there for a few hours risking being in the
dangerous temperature range.

I've used mine, planning for it to be done after about 8 hours....and I slept
longer than I had intended, so the Crock Pot was running for 10-12 hours.
There is no way I would want it to shut off by itself.

I too have not ever added hot liquids to mine. I normally will add several
chopped tomatoes to the Crock Pot first (with it turned up on high), at the
same time, I will have the meat browning up on the griddle. When the meat
has some good color to it, I'll add it on top of the chopped tomatoes. If
you are adding some liquid, I would put it in at the same time as the
tomatoes. I add the meat next, so it will get the heat right away.
On top of the meat will be the Potatoes, Carrots, Onions,Celery,
Mushrooms, etc. Once everything is in the Pot, I turn it down to low,
and let it do its thing.

I no longer add any Flour to thicken up a stew; I
use Potato Flakes and/or Rolled Oats....I think this is a bit healthier,
and it adds more fiber too.
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Old 02-01-2012, 02:00 PM   #5
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I suspect the hot liquid instruction was the sort of overly abundant caution common today. Someone there was thinking that if you began with one of the more spoilable things, it might be at a questionable temperature for a while. They kicked the issue to the lawyers, as corporate beasts must do, and got the lawyerly correct answer. I've never heard of anyone paying the least attention to it.

I tend to consider that, once I'm up in slow cooker cooking times, a longer time at low temperature is equivalent to the shorter (but still long) high temp time. So going away for hours with it on low is no problem. And I don't think there's any precision at all needed. The times are very elastic. So I have never missed out by not having a timer. And I'd rather have it cooking away slowly than having a long delayed start or a long off time at the end.
"Kitchen duty is awarded only to those of manifest excellence..." - The Master, Dogen
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Old 02-01-2012, 03:34 PM   #6
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Maybe it woulod be good for something like soup. Could you put the contents into the crockpot frozen ?

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