Slow cooking : science me please!
July 21, 2011 1:31 PM   Subscribe

Can I reuse cooking sauce from last time when slow cooking?

It sounds terrible, but I can't think of a good reason not to try this. Am I not thinking this through?

My new favorite thing to cook in my slow cooker is sweet italian sausage. Add onion chunks, bell pepper strips, cover with a big jar of tomato sauce, and enjoy the tasty magic after 6 hours on low.

I don't find that I eat much of the cooking sauce though, so I have about a quart leftover each time. Can I freeze this, and thaw and reuse the next time?
posted by travertina to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As long as it's not sitting out at room temperature for extended periods, I don't see why you couldn't do this. Get it in the fridge or freezer right away after you finish cooking. Here are some tips about that.. You could also potentially divide the left over sauce into smaller portions to use over pasta as needed.
posted by goggie at 1:44 PM on July 21, 2011

In terms of bacteria, it should be OK provided your slow cooker gets everything nice and hot (above 165F, which it should anyway). It occurs to me that the heat may be causing some physical change in the sauce, but after the first time through that's probably all done. So, yes, you can reuse it provided you make sure to heat it thoroughly (and refrigerate/freeze it in between).

You may be able to find another use for the sauce, as well. Add it to rice and stock or pasta with some protein.
posted by axiom at 1:45 PM on July 21, 2011

You might want to consider cooling it in the refrigerator for several hours before freezing it. The sausages will probably have given off a LOT of fat during the slow cooking process, and cooling it will allow you to skim off some of the fat prior to freezing.
posted by dersins at 1:47 PM on July 21, 2011

Yes, dersins' comment about the fattiness of the sauce is why I'm not using it over pasta or rice. (That and my trying to avoid too much pasta.) Sounds like I won't get food poisoning from doing this. Thanks Mefi!
posted by travertina at 4:34 PM on July 21, 2011

There are apocryphal accounts of decades-old gumbos. You make a gumbo, and you use a little bit of the last gumbo in it. Repeat ad infinitum. It's supposed to be the "secret" to family gumbos, and after all, don't stewed things taste better the next day anyway? That's more or less what you're considering doing. I say do it, and see if you can't keep it going forever. =D
posted by TheNewWazoo at 5:34 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh hells yes. It'll freeze beautifully.

Pasta sauce? Your profile says Chicago, you've gotta have a produce market where you can take some dead-ripe tomatoes cheap, right? Throw 'em in a blender or just rough-chop them, add a handful of herbs and salt, and more onion.

But if not, please just buy the big cans of good-quality (Muir Glen is worth it IMO) canned tomatoes, it's sooooooooo much better and cheaper and often coupon-riffic. You can even get them seasoned if you want.

posted by desuetude at 9:19 PM on July 21, 2011

You might be interested in Chinese master stocks, some reportedly hundreds of years old, or perpetual stew.
posted by 6550 at 2:16 AM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

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