Why You May Want To Avoid Putting Leftovers In A Slow Cooker

Slow cookers might be one of the most convenient small appliances ever invented. The "set it and forget it" concept allows people with busy schedules to prepare a well-cooked meal without tediously keeping an eye on the dish the entire time.

The slow cooker was first invented by Irving Nachumsohn back in the early 1900s, and in 1940, Nachumsohn earned a patent for his invention, per Smithsonian Magazine. Originally named the Naxon Beanery, the product didn't hit the market until the 1950s. By 1970, Nachumsohn was ready to retire and sold the product to a larger company. After Nachumsohn sold the rights to his product, sales grew from $2 million annually to $93 million within four years.

Today, slow cookers are still a kitchen staple. And while they're excellent for cooking foods at a low and slow pace, it's important to know how to use a slow cooker properly to avoid any potential foodborne illness.

Don't put leftovers in the slow cooker

Though your food might have spent as long as eight hours in the slow cooker while it was prepared, it doesn't mean you can reheat it the same way.

According to Southern Living, you don't want to put leftovers in the slow cooker to heat them up. That's because once they've been stored in the refrigerator, their temperature drops due to the refrigerator temperature. Since food's "danger zone" is between 40° and 140° Fahrenheit, if you place refrigerated leftovers in a slow cooker, the temperature of the cooking device may not rise quickly enough to bring that food out of the danger zone in time to prevent substantial bacteria growth.

As a result, your food might grow dangerous levels of bacteria, which can potentially result in foodborne illness. The same rules apply to certain frozen foods, such as chicken. Your best bet for reheating leftovers is to do so in a preheated oven or microwave.