In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “can you stop and restart a slow cooker” with an in-depth analysis of the consequences of stopping and restarting a slow cooker. Moreover, we are going to highlight the safety concerns associated with this practice and things that can be done to prevent the safety risks.
Can you stop and restart a slow cooker?
Yes, you can stop and restart your slow cooker while cooking food in it. Technically, it is possible to do whatever you want to do with a slow cooker but is not recommended by experts. By doing so, one can expose the food to bacteria or other microbes that can cause safety issues.
For instance, if you are cooking any food, sensitive to microbial agents, and leave the food in an uncooked state for too long, then there is a chance that these microbes will attack the food, grow there, and survive in your food. This is due to the nature of microbes that they can grow in a portion of food if a certain temperature is not maintained in food for a certain period.
Therefore, one should not stop the cooker during cooking and restart it after too long as it may not ensure the safety of the food that has been cooking. And heating the food again is not even able to kill those microbes.
Foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs, and vegetables, naturally contain microorganisms that need to be killed and deactivated by heating or cooking. In a slow cooker, the food is usually allowed to cook for a longer duration as compared to that on the stove, which means that inappropriate conditions for microbial growth and survival also need to be maintained for a longer duration.
Moreover, even after heating, the dangerous bacteria are still present in the food that is waiting for an appropriate growth condition and can start their multiplication again when the conditions become favorable for them.
In this regard, if a slow cooker is stopped during cooking for a certain period that will lower the temperature of the food to a level suitable for microbial growth, the microbes will start to grow again. So, you should not stop the cooker for too long that can cause the microbial growth to start again.
Some people might think that it should not be problematic as they are going to restart the cooker again and heat the food anyway. But this is not the right thought as the bacteria that have been allowed to be heated once will become more resistant to the temperatures and can raise their inactivation temperature. So, re-cooking the food would not be enough to ensure safety then.
Therefore, you should not leave food in the slow cooker. Some experts suggest that keeping the food, after cutting off the heating, for about two to three hours is safe but still this practice should be avoided to remain totally on the safe side.
Things to do instead of stopping and restarting a slow cooker:
There are some amazing ideas that you can follow instead of stopping your slow cooker and then restarting it after some time.
Let a slow cooker be:
If you are going to stop a slow cooker for a reason that you are not available for monitoring it or turning it off at the right time, you do not need to worry much. Slow cookers can easily be left alone while they are on as they may not contain any potential risk of causing damage of any sort.
For not being able to turn it off at the right time, (if you turn off it accidentally, don’t worry), you can simply cook the food for a bit longer. Some experts suggest that you can overcook the food for about 2 hours in a slow cooker without affecting the food’s natural quality. Slow cookers can hold the food at a particular temperature without burning or drying it out.
Again, if it is not possible to monitor the food throughout the cooking if you are unavailable and you are also not willing to let the slow cooker work on its own, simply start the cooking later. In this way, you do not have to worry about anything and will be able to cook the food without any dissatisfaction.
If you want to stop the cooker, you can do so after the food is fully cooked. The completely cooked foods do not have a potential risk of microbial survival in them. You can leave the food in a slow cooker after the food is cooked and then restart it to reheat the food whenever you want to eat it.
But still, leaving the food that is even cooked for too long would be bad as the warm food may have the chance to be spoiled in terms of its quality aspects, such as taste, color, texture, and smell, if left at room temperature. Therefore, it is better to stop the slow cooker, take out the food, store the food in the refrigerator, and reheat it when you want to eat it.
Use an automatic slow cooker:
Most of the slow cookers need to be operated manually that demands your presence throughout the cooking time. But nowadays, many brands are manufacturing appliances with an automatic control system installed in them. so, you should try to purchase a slow cooker with a developed program that can handle the food as per instructions that are entered in the system.
Move to a vegan diet:
The potential risks are mostly produced by foods obtained from animal sources, such as poultry, dairy, and meat. While the vegetables and fruits are not considered too dangerous in terms of microbial presence and also do not require too much cooking. Therefore, one should move to a vegan diet, one is not able to cook foods that require too much time for their cooking.
Here, you can further find some tips to safely cook your food in a slow cooker.
In this brief guide, we answered the question “can you stop and restart a slow cooker” with an in-depth analysis of the potential effects of stopping and restarting a slow cooker. Moreover, we discussed that you can stop and restart a slow cooker with food being inside, what are the safety risks of doing so and how can these safety risks be prevented.