Thursday, March 22, 2012

What a Crock!

We've owned a crock pot for decades, never using it, gathering dust on our shelf of unused appliances. Then my wife saw a good deal on a pork roast for "pulled pork" and bought it. We've never done that either so she asked a friend who gave us a pulled pork recipe which required a crock pot. We followed instructions and waited, and waited. After several hours the meat still looked raw. We waited more hours - and finally the meat was cooked and did pull apart easily with a fork. We added a sauce that was wonderful and my wife is eager to try it again.

This got me to wondering, is a crock pot safe? How can meat be raw for hours in a warm environment and not develop food poisoning? The answer is in the temperature.

The low or warm setting is 71–74 °C [160–165 °F] and the high is usually 175–200 °F. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, bacteria in food is killed at a temperature of 165°F. Beef/pork should be cooked to an internal temperature of 170° as high as 190°F in poultry. With a crock pot you are cooking right on the edge of safety, just high enough to kill bacteria but not enough to burn food. Be sure to follow cooking directions, for instance cooking poultry on low would not be safe.

I saw a comment online that opening the lid of a crock pot lowers the temperature and that you should add 20 minutes cooking each time you lift the lid.

Bottom Line

Have fun with crock pots but follow instructions. It's not a bad idea to test the internal temperature of meat to make sure it's in the safe zone.

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