It seems like a silly question and you probably already answered ‘yes’. But unless your crock pot physically falls apart (like one of mine just did), how do you know it’s working properly? Most of us can figure out when we need a new coffeemaker or our toaster has run amuck, but what about your crock pot; how do you know if you’re crock pot is too old? If there are 1970s style flowers painted all over the heating element that may be a clue (I have one of those too – mine’s dark green with purple flowers). But I’m actually talking about it not cooking properly. Slow cooking is a wonderful thing, but not if your slow cooker is cooking too slowly.
Obviously, knowing whether or not you’re crock pot is too old and failing is important. If it cooks too slowly bacteria can form, and no one wants to put their family at risk. Crock pots should heat the food within to a temperature upwards of 140 degrees Fahrenheit within four hours. If yours doesn’t, perhaps it’s time to look at buying a new crock pot.
Try this simple test:
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).
If the water temperature is more, you may have to reduce the cooking time in some recipes or look into purchasing a programmable module that will switch your crock pot to a “keep warm” setting once the allotted cooking time is completed. If the temperature is less, you should seriously consider purchasing a new one, because your crock pot is spending too much time in the “bacteria growth zone” of 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Please, test your crock pot. Encourage friends and family to do the same. If it’s broken, replace it; your family will thank you for it.
Natalie Schloesser is a work at home mom who has gained renewed interest in crock pot cooking. For her crock pot recipes, a variety of other recipes, helpful hints, cooking tips, and much more visit www.natalies-recipes.com [link no longer working].