Q.: Can I put frozen meat directly into a slow cooker or do I have to thaw it first?
— J.H., Silver Lake
A.: The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends that for safety purposes all meat be thawed before it is put in a slow cooker. This is to ensure that the meat will reach 140 degrees within two hours.
Temperatures between 40 degrees and 140 degrees are considered the danger zone, where unsafe bacteria can multiply quickly. Foods stored at the danger zone for longer than two hours are not considered safe to eat. Frozen meats will spend too much time in the danger zone.
Slow cooker makers Hamilton Beach and Cuisinart recommend that foods should be thawed before being put in slow cookers.
Rival Crock-Pot, a leading brand of slow cooker, notes that frozen meats can be cooked in their slow cookers, but extra precautions must be observed: “Add at least one cup of warm liquid to the stoneware before placing meat in the stoneware. Do not preheat the slow cooker. Cook recipes containing frozen meats for an additional 4 to 6 hours on low, or an additional 2 hours on high,” according to information from the company’s website.
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