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Am I going to break my crock pot?
October 11, 2012 2:14 PM   Subscribe

Is it safe to keep a crock pot in the fridge overnight before cooking?

I'd like to cut up and prepare all my ingredients tonight, put them in the crock pot, put it in the fridge overnight so I don't get food poisoning, and then cook it while I'm at work.

Is that safe to do? Or do I need to worry about the pot cracking from thermal shock?

I'm sure that it will make the cooking time take longer, but since the recipe says to let it cook for 8 hours and I'll be out of the house for at least ten that shouldn't be an issue.
posted by JDHarper to Food & Drink (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I've done this a bunch. Never had a problem with it. The pot heats up pretty gradually (especially on low), so thermal shock is unlikely.
posted by Knicke at 2:16 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's almost certainly fine; I've done it before with mine. Slow cookers are slooooow. If there was enough heat there to crack the ceramic, there would be too much to slow-cook much of anything.
posted by supercres at 2:17 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I do this all the time. First thing when i wake up I take it out of the fridge and set it out on the counter to warm a little, then turn it on last thing before I leave.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 2:18 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I used to do this with a vegetable-based soup and over a fairly short time (6 months or so) the GLAZE cracked all over.

So the crock itself didn't crack but there were hundreds of these tiny lines in the glaze and I started to get paranoid about horrible bacteria getting trapped in the cracks and giving me food poisoning. I got a new crockpot, stopped putting the crock in the fridge, and I've gotten no cracks in the glaze in the new one.
posted by peep at 2:20 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I put leftover crock pot dishes into the fridge and then transition them back to the crock pot when I want to warm them up. Never had any problems.
posted by jabes at 2:20 PM on October 11, 2012


I've done this, too, and never had a problem.
posted by gauche at 2:21 PM on October 11, 2012


Yes. I do this nearly every time that I use my slow cooker without any issues. You'll be fine.
posted by asnider at 2:22 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I put everything in a big tupperware type thing and just tip it into the crock pot in the morning. I have done it leaving it in the crock, but my new cooker is large and the crock part doesn't fit in the fridge easily.
posted by wwax at 2:24 PM on October 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


I've done this often myself. I've never tried this using the "High" setting but I've never had any issues going straight from fridge to "Low".
posted by moxiequz at 2:24 PM on October 11, 2012


I've done it, it's no big deal

If you want to be 100% sure, use the Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners. They're plastic. Put all of your stuff in that, put that in the fridge, then take it out and plop into Crock Pot before taking off in the morning.

Plus, nothing much to clean up!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:25 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I do this all the time with a cheap, years-old crock pot on both the low temp and high temp settings and have never had an issue either with the integrity of the pot or the tastiness of the food.
posted by Rallon at 2:26 PM on October 11, 2012


peep: So the crock itself didn't crack but there were hundreds of these tiny lines in the glaze and I started to get paranoid about horrible bacteria getting trapped in the cracks and giving me food poisoning. I got a new crockpot, stopped putting the crock in the fridge, and I've gotten no cracks in the glaze in the new one.

If you aren't using crock pot liners, you are living in the past.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:26 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


use the Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners. They're plastic.

They're also around $3 a piece, which would add a significant cost to each and every slow cooker meal, no thanks.
posted by Cosine at 2:34 PM on October 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yup, do it every time I make a crock pot dinner. I had never given any thought about putting the cold pot in the heater base, but I also spend a few minutes preparing in the morning (I do just my cutting at night, mix in the rest right before I leave for work), so it may be enough time to warm up a bit. My guess is that the heater heats up slowly, not any more shocking to the pot than if it were overly warm in your kitchen to begin with.
posted by AzraelBrown at 2:37 PM on October 11, 2012


Some of the cuisinart slow cookers have metal inserts instead of ceramic (so you can brown the meat without having to take it out) so that wouldn't have any problems.
posted by MrHalfwit at 2:38 PM on October 11, 2012


These are only 65 cents each, so that's better. But where they say "Lift and toss!" I say "Lift, turn inside out, and throw in the top rack of the dishwasher!" We do the same with Ziplocks. They are reusable until they leak. That can easily be 10 uses or more.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:58 PM on October 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is actually how my partner broke the ceramic insert in his not-old fairly expensive 7qt slow cooker. He put it from the fridge in to the slow cooker and then turned it on. When he came home he found it had cracked right down the middle. Oie.

So consider this an example of that practice breaking things....
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 3:19 PM on October 11, 2012


If you're concerned store the prepped stuff in a tupperware or ziplock and tip it into the slow cooker in the morning.
posted by essexjan at 3:33 PM on October 11, 2012


Excellent, general consensus seems to be: No, that's fine. Thanks everybody!
posted by JDHarper at 5:03 PM on October 11, 2012


Doesn't it seem like maybe heating food inside of some sort of plastic liner is going to leach chemicals into the food? Maybe no more so than heating up lean cuisines, etc, but still, there is so much dangerous stuff out there that we don't find out about until 30 years later.
posted by onlyconnect at 5:10 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've read that this is a bad idea from a food safety perspective because the crock will become very cold and slow the cooking process. Also, the same site, and the USDA both say that if you cut up meat and vegetables in advance, store them separately in the refrigerator.
posted by loop at 7:53 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


The same source also tells you that peppers are perishables that need to be refidgerated, to never put partially frozen food in a slow cooker, and that food is only safe to eat for two hours after being cooked. It's all very sound advice but the FDA is going to be as conservative about food safety as they can possibly be. There are fewer than 20,000 confirmed cases of food poisoning each year in the US, so most people think it's OK to live life on the edge and leave killer green peppers on the counter.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:13 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I do not normally get worried about the whole chemicals/'toxins' issue, but cooking food extremely slowly inside of a plastic bag just sounds like one of those Very Bad Ideas that 50 years from now we will be shaking our heads over, like radium enemas or something. How hard is it to wash up a ceramic pot, anyway? You just soak them and everything comes off. I think if you were getting food poisoning from the cracks in the glaze you would notice; food poisoning isn't one of those 'silent' things, y'know?
posted by Acheman at 12:08 AM on October 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm going to go against the grain here and provide my anecdata. I did this once, and after putting it on high for 4 hours the porcelain pot was ever-so-slightly warped. Just a little bit out of round. Which doesn't actually hinder in the cooking process but definitely lets a little more of the liquids escape around the heavy glass top.
posted by This Guy at 7:52 AM on October 12, 2012


I would never do this. My crockpot is a high quality brand with stoneware insert, and they recommend against it. If you're one of the unlucky people who have a crockpot crack because your heating element just happens to have a hotspot or your insert has a hidden flaw under the glaze, you run the risk of something as minor as a very messy cleanup, or as major as a fire while you're at work. You may think the risk is very small, and I believe that's true. However, the consequences of that small risk are large indeed. Why mess with that when your food will heat faster with less energy waste if you store your ingredients in separate containers?


I do not normally get worried about the whole chemicals/'toxins' issue, but cooking food extremely slowly inside of a plastic bag just sounds like one of those Very Bad Ideas that 50 years from now we will be shaking our heads over, like radium enemas or something.

Agree with this- plasticizers are known to migrate into foods. How much and to what effect is not clear. Add that to the cost of the bags and the further addition of a petroleum product into a landfill. Reusing plastic bags seems to make more sense, but certainly increases the likelihood of leachates as the plastic becomes degraded with multiple contacts with food of various pH over time.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:45 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I did it all the time when I had mine. Mine wasn't no fancy pants kind (they don't exist in Korea) but one with a crock that looked like a flower pot. Terra cotta maybe? I made some darn fine peanut chicken in that thing.
posted by kathrynm at 12:02 AM on October 13, 2012


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