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Slow Cooker Season is Here to Stay
Donna Krug clr

Busy families often fall into the trap of preparing convenience foods or going through the drive thru after a hectic day. Especially during the winter months it is nice to come home from a busy day at work and be greeted with the smell of supper ready to serve. If some fresh ideas for freezer ready slow cooker meals are what you are looking for then the upcoming program at the Great Bend Public Library is one you will not want to miss.
The educational program, “Freezer Ready Slow Cooker Meals” is designed to give you the tools to put together ingredients and freeze them properly; then cook them in your slow cooker for a hearty and healthy meal. The free program is set for Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 5:30 p.m. in the Library’s lower level.
Many people ask if using a slow cooker is safe. The answer is a definite yes. The counter top appliance that cooks food slowly at a low temperature, usually 170-180 degrees Fahrenheit, is not only safe to use but is also less expensive to use because it takes less electricity to use than an oven or range top. The low heat also helps less expensive or leaner cuts of meat become tender and shrink less.
The direct heat from the slow cooker, lengthy cooking time and steam created within the tightly covered container combine to destroy bacteria and make the slow cooker a safe process for cooking foods. There are always some good food safety tips to keep in mind:
• Begin clean; that means cooker, utensils, counter top and cutting board. Wash hands before and during food preparation.
• Keep perishable foods refrigerated until preparation time. Always defrost meat or poultry before putting it into a slow cooker. Cut food into chunks or small pieces to ensure thorough cooking. Do not use the slow cooker for large pieces like a roast or whole chicken because the food will cook so slowly it could remain in the bacterial “danger zone” too long.
• Fill the cooker no less than half full and no more than two thirds full. Keep the lid in place, removing only to stir the food or check for doneness.
• Most cookers have two or more settings. Sometimes I start a recipe at a higher setting and then at noon, turn it back to low. All day cooking of less tender cuts of meat should be done at the low setting.
• Reheating leftovers in a slow cooker is not recommended. Bringing food into the danger zone for too long of a time will cause bacterial growth to escalate.
I hope to see you at the Library Tuesday. You will come away with some new recipes to try with your family this winter.
Donna Krug is the Family & Consumer Science Agent with K-State Research & Extension – Barton County. You may reach her at: (620)793-1910 or