Slow-cooked dishes taste amazing and are ideal for big families. You prepare the raw ingredients and let the crockpot take care of the remaining cooking procedure.
But with the comfort of slow cooking, crockpots also bring some safety concerns to the table. The way you store slow cooker leftovers determines if you’re consuming safe food or if it has become potentially toxic.
If storing slow cooker leftovers feels like a task to you, we have got you covered. Read on to find some quick storage tips to keep your food fresh and safe!
How to Store Slow Cooker Leftovers?
Once your food is thoroughly cooked, let it cool down, transfer it to small storage containers, and move them to the refrigerator. Putting the ceramic crock in your refrigerator or not letting hot food cool before storing it can harm your health. Don’t let slow-cooked food sit on your countertop for more than two hours, and keep it in an air-tight box for future consumption.
Since your slow-cooked meals already spend sufficient time in the crockpot, leaving them in it after cooking isn’t practical. If you turn off the crockpot and leave cooked food in it for more than two hours, its quality won’t remain the same. Therefore, move your cooked food to a safe storage space to serve later.
Here are some steps you can follow to keep your slow-cooked food as safe and tasty as ever:
- Move the Cooked Food to Shallow Containers
If you cook extra stew or soup to store for later, don’t let it sit in the crockpot unnecessarily. Get shallow air-tight containers and move your slow-cooked leftovers to them. Deep boxes and pots take forever to cool down your food, something not great from the health perspective.
Storage boxes with bigger surface areas are ideal for refrigerating food because they provide sufficient airflow.
- Blow Fan Air Over it
If you can’t wait for the food to cool down at room temperature, don’t close the storage container’s lid and keep it under the ceiling or bracket fan for a while. The external air will speed up the cooling process and protect your refrigerator from the storage box’s heat damage.
- Give Hot Food an Ice Bath
Another cool hack to store slow cooker leftovers is giving them a quick ice bath. Transfer your food to a metal pot or container and submerge this pot in some cold water to quickly dissipate the heat. Although this step is optional, you can use it when short on time.
If you’re storing slow cooker leftovers for the next meal, freezing them isn’t mandatory. Keep the food storage containers in the refrigerator and reheat the food when it’s time to serve.
If you plan to serve slow-cooked leftovers a few days later, freeze them instead of refrigerating them to keep their taste and quality intact. Cool down the leftovers before putting them in the freezer to avoid a temperature shock, as a sudden heat shock can impact the food texture.
These easy steps will ensure your slow-cooked leftovers are tasty and safe for consumption when you reheat them.
Can You Reheat Leftovers in A Slow Cooker?
You can reheat leftovers in a slow cooker, but doing so will take longer. According to food safety guidelines, you should reheat frozen food right after it’s out of the freezer if you wish to keep it safe.
When the duration your frozen leftovers take to reach 140F, and higher temperatures is long, its safety standards don’t remain the same. You might think refrigerating slow cooker leftovers and then reheating them in the ceramic crock will reduce your workload; it’s not great from the safety point of view.
Firstly, refrigerating a ceramic crock can cause hairline cracks on its surface. And secondly, reheating a cold crock will take forever, something no smart cook likes.
Therefore, you should prefer reheating slow cooker leftovers on the stove to keep their taste and texture intact.
How Long Can You Leave Food in Slow Cooker Once Cooked?
After unplugging it from the wall socket, you can leave food in a slow cooker for two hours. This duration is enough to dissipate extra heat from your food, and you can refrigerate it right after. But if you wish to keep your food warm for serving, you can leave it in the slow cooker for 6-8 hours on warm mode.
A slow cooker’s warm mode will keep your food simmering hot so that you can serve it fresh despite being busy. Leaving thoroughly cooked food in an unplugged slow cooker for more than two hours will impact its texture and quality.
Can I Put My Crockpot in The Fridge After Cooking?
Yes, you can put a ceramic crock in the fridge after cooking, but expert chefs and slow cooker manufacturers do not recommend it. Drastic changes in a ceramic pot’s temperature can compromise its well-being and impact your food’s safety.
Therefore, it’s better to transfer slow-cooked meals to shallow air-tight containers to store them later. If you have to reheat slow-cooked food in the crockpot, pre-heat it 10-15 minutes before putting the food in it. When you try reheating leftovers in a cold ceramic pot, bacterial growth and temperature changes can affect your food.
Storing slow cooker leftovers is a quick way to have home-cooked meals on hectic days. If you have a large crockpot, cook your favorite curry, stew, or soup in bulk and save it for later.
We have shared some easy tips to help you store delicious crockpot meals without impacting their quality. Don’t let a cooked meal stay in the crockpot for too long, and move it to enjoy its unaltered taste in the coming days. If you’re inclined towards storing and reheating your meals in the ceramic crock, quit this practice right away. Keep some air-tight storage boxes and zip lock bags handy so that everything that doesn’t get eaten goes straight to the fridge!