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      Crock-Pot Safety Tips

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      Cookingwith a crock-pot is so easy that it should be fool-proof, but there are a few safety tips that may be helpful when using this method of cooking.

      1. Food needs to reach at least 140 degrees as quickly aspossible. It is a good idea to stay home one day while using your crock-pot to test how long it takes to reach appropriate temperatures. The food should reach at least140 degrees after cooking on LOW for four hours. If this is not the case, yourun the risk of growing bacteria that can make you sick. If your crock-pot doesn't reach this temperature within that timeframe, you probably need a newcrock-pot.

      2. If you can, try to cook on HIGH for the first hour ofcooking to bring the food temperature up fast.

      3. Never put frozen food into the crock pot. Sticking unthawed food in the crock-pot makes it difficult for food to reach 140 degrees quickly enough causing bacteria to form.

      4. Never store your food in the refrigerator in the crock-pot liner. That liner is verythick, meaning it will take too much time to cool down the food. That slower cooling process could lead to bacteria growth.

      5. Do notfill the crock-pot all the way to the top. Fill it one-half to two-thirds full.

      6. Trim all excess fat from meats before adding tocrock-pot.

      7. Most meats require at least 8 hours of cookingon LOW.

      8. Vegetable should be placed on the bottom ofthe crock-pot, because they do not cook as fast as meat.

      9. Don't lift the lid to stir. This extends thecooking time by 20 minutes.

      10. Ground meats must be cooked in a skillet beforeadding to the crock-pot.

      11. Some seasonings such ascayenne pepper and Tabasco sauce become bitterif cooked for long periods of time. Add these toward the end of your cook time.

      12. Liquids don't boil away in the crock-pot. Keepthis in mind when converting recipes to be cooked in a slow cooker.

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