We all know slow cookers (and multi-cookers) are great for big-batch cooking, but what if you end up with more food than you know what to do with? Save it, of course. Many slow cooked dishes, like soups and stews, taste even better a day or two later, and also freeze beautifully.
If you store them properly, of course.
There is a right way and a wrong way to save slow cooked leftovers. The wrong way is the easy way. It might be tempting to simply lift the insert out of the slow cooker, let the contents cool off a bit, and store it, covered, in the refrigerator. Then, when it’s time to eat, pop the insert right back on the pre-heated slow cooker base to warm the food back up. No storage containers or additional pots and pans to wash! Don’t do this! Please!
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This is a bad idea for two reasons. Firstly, it will take too long for the leftovers to reheat, which can create a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Secondly, placing a chilled slow cooker insert on a hot base may cause the insert to crack.
According to the experts at Crock-Pot: “It is recommended to use an instant read thermometer when cooking with chilled stoneware and chilled food to ensure food temperatures reach well above 165°F and food becomes tender. Never place your stoneware (whether it has been refrigerated or is at room temperature) in a pre-heated slow cooker base.”
The best way to save leftovers? Simply transfer leftover food from the slow cooker into resealable containers and store in the refrigerator or freezer. Reheat on the stovetop, in the oven, or in the microwave.
We’re all for doing less dishes, but safety in the kitchen still comes first.