Over the past couple of years when we’ve chatted about slow cooker recipes on the blog, it is often mentioned that new slow cookers seem to cook food faster than the older models. Many of us have noticed that our meat is too mushy and/or we have to cut back the cooking time on some of our favorite recipes by several hours.
I’ve been holding on to the theory that maybe my recipes are turning out differently because I now own a larger, oval cooker with more surface area. But this week, reader Art sent me a link to an interesting article and discussion of this phenomenon on About.com. According to the writer, Linda Larson, slow cookers manufactured within the past 5 to 6 years have been made to cook at higher temperatures (200 degrees F on low; 300 degrees F on high) than older models.
Why would they want to mess with a good thing? Well, it has to do with food safety. Supposedly, someone somewhere got concerned that food was hanging around too long in the “danger zone” range of 40 to 140 degrees F, increasing the chances for bacterial growth. For the record, I’m all about avoiding food poisoning. But do you ever wonder if we are taking it a bit too far?
Now, our slow cooker dishes get nuked. Recipes that used to take 8 hours on low now take 5 hours on low, causing us to have to make a special trip home to cut it off, or start it later, or set a time and hope that holding it on “warm” for 4 hours isn’t going to turn it to mush. It completely defeats the purpose. And when we want to share a favorite slow cooker recipe with a friend, must we ask them the make, model and year of their slow cooker in order to specially tailor the cooking instructions to their appliance? How about some consistency here?
I believe the newer slow cooker models have a lot of great design features and have come a long way in terms of ease of cleaning, ability to be programmed and the like. I just wish they weren’t so dang hot!
Do you agree, or do you like the hotter models?