Put it in the fridge. No, not THAT part.
December 12, 2013 9:03 AM   Subscribe

As I was leaving for work yesterday, I instructed my mother to "help yourself to the oatmeal; afterwards, put it in the downstairs fridge." This morning, as I opened the downstairs fridge, I discovered she'd put the actual slow cooker appliance into the fridge along with, instead of just, the ceramic insert with the food. Will this harm the slow cooker?

I have done the requisite facepalming and removal of the appliance from the fridge. But what's next? I want to think that fridge temperatures are no worse than what the slow cooker will experience during shipping (it is rather cold out there), but I'm not sure. Electronics are not meant for the fridge! There are air vents on the underside of the appliance, so condensation in its innards is a certainty--in fact, as I was moving the appliance to a proper location I noticed it left a small (maybe three quarters put together) puddle of water. The air vents are dead centre to the underside and the puddle was more to the edge of the machine, so I might be overthinking it; I didn't have time to check.

Mefites: do I have anything to worry about regarding the health of my beloved slow cooker? I'll probably put it in a warm place for a few days regardless.
posted by Zelos to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
The cold will not have damaged anything. However after you took it out, condensation might have formed inside it, so I'd leave it for a good while in a warm place (next to a radiator) to make sure the insides have dried out.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:05 AM on December 12, 2013 [18 favorites]

Yeah, maybe don't use it for a couple of hours when it warms up, but it should be fine. There really isn't much to a slow cooker.

FWIW, when I was a computer/printer tech I would leave computers and laser printers in the back of my truck, sometimes overnight. I did this through the coldest of New England winters and none of them ever gave me any issues. Hard drives fired right up, printers printed fine. I'm not saying you should do this, just that electronics aren't always as fragile as they're made out to be.
posted by bondcliff at 9:17 AM on December 12, 2013

If it was warm when she stowed it, I'd be more worried about the state of the other food that was in the fridge at the time (if any). You're probably fine though.
posted by trunk muffins at 9:19 AM on December 12, 2013

Yeah someone has done this to me before. I did what EndsOfInvention recommends and it was fine.
posted by melissam at 9:40 AM on December 12, 2013

My husband has done this a zillion times and ours still works fine.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:18 AM on December 12, 2013

I had an original CrockPot without the removable insert for years and always put it into the fridge.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:25 AM on December 12, 2013 [6 favorites]

A friend of mine posted a photo from a grocery store to facebook this week, where they'd stocked slow cookers next to the Velveeta and Rotel in a refrigerator case. I think you are ok.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 10:26 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't see how this is different from using it outdoors in sub-freezing weather and then unplugging it after everyone eats and letting it sit there until it's time to go home, which I've seen done a zillion times.
posted by HotToddy at 10:48 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't be worried about the crockpot. I'd be incrementally worried about putting something containing that much heat in the fridge-- it would make a warm spot and warm things around it. however, fridges cope with this.

Mostly I have a visceral fear that people feeling okay with putting it in the fridge (per rote instruction) would also be okay with leaving it powered on in the fridge, and a powered heat source inside a fridge is no bueno.

As it is, your fridge is fine (unless, possibly, it is already wheezing and on its last legs... but I doubt it), your crockpot is fine. I recommend some appliance-usage training for your mom, and nothing more.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:13 AM on December 12, 2013

It's not damaged. A crockpot is just a small heating element, a thermostat, and sometimes a timer. There's nothing there that would be harmed by refrigeration. In theory if it was really hot it might have temporarily unrefrigerated some of the immediately surrounding items in the fridge with it, but in practice I wouldn't be too worried about it. Within an hour or so it would've cooled down, and very few things can't stand being out of refrigeration for an hour. There's an outside chance that some of your milk might spoil a little bit sooner than it otherwise would've, but other than that no big deal. And yeah, you should probably let it sit for a while outside the fridge to dry out, just in case. A few hours should be enough.

I wouldn't be worried about it.
posted by Scientist at 1:34 PM on December 12, 2013

This is not a big deal. They withstand this easily.
posted by Miko at 8:20 PM on December 12, 2013

I'm happily reassured--although yes, I'll be keeping it in a warm spot for a day or two to get rid of the inevitable condensation. Thanks, MeFites! My warm dinners and I salute you.
posted by Zelos at 9:02 PM on December 12, 2013

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