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Test Your Slow Cooker's Performance and Reliability

Organization is on many of our New Year's Resolution lists. Start now in the kitchen with those small appliances that you seldom use. Do they work properly or even work at all? It's time to start the organization process and check your appliances.


Organization- one of the many New Year’s resolutions made each year. If that happens to be one of your resolutions, start now in the kitchen with all those small appliances you never or seldom use. You know, the toaster, the food processor, the mini food processor, the mixer, the slow-cooker and the list goes on. If it has been so long since you used them, do you know if they work properly or even work at all? It’s time to start the organization process and check out your appliances.  

Let’s look at a common appliance that can be a real time saver, the slow cooker. This countertop electrical appliance, cooks foods slowly at a low temperature—generally between 170° and 280° F. The low heat helps less expensive, leaner cuts of meat become tender and shrinks less.

The direct heat from the pot, lengthy cooking and steam created within the tightly-covered container combine to destroy bacteria and make the slow cooker a safe process for cooking foods.

Although a timesaver, what if it isn’t cooking properly? When is the last time, if ever, that you have checked it? Do you even know what to look for? It can be checked easily and will give you piece of mind that your appliance is working properly and will continue to provide safe, efficient meals for your family.

First, check for obvious signs of age and/or damage, such as a cracked or broken crockery liner, frayed cord, or damaged plug.

Next, test your slow-cooker's cooking performance and reliability. Place two quarts (eight cups) of water in a slow cooker and set the appliance on low. After two hours, use a food thermometer to make sure the temperature of the water reaches at least 165 degrees F. After eight hours on low, the water should be 185 degrees F.

The temperature test should be conducted while someone is at home and can check on the appliance periodically. If the appliance fails to heat the water to the recommended temperatures, it should be discarded and replaced with a new one. If you find that your appliance is not working properly follow proper disposal procedures.

If you would like more information on cooking with slow cookers, please contact our office at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture in Miller County at 870-779-3609, or email

Here is one of my favorite slow cooker recipes. They are so easy, and they will literally fall off the bone they are so tender.

Oh So Easy, Pork Chops and Gravy

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

6 (1 inch thick) lean pork chops

1 can condensed chicken broth, undiluted

Non stick cooking spray


Combine dry ingredients in a shallow dish. Mix well. Dredge pork chops in flour mixture and set aside. Combine remaining flour mixture and chicken broth in slow cooker. Whisk well to remove any lumps. Lightly spray skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Place over medium high heat. Cook chops just until browned on both sides.  Place in slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 2 to 2 and one half hours or until chops are tender. Serve with hot rice or mashed potatoes. Serves 6.

By Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609


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