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Jun 9, 2006 11:23 PM

Rival Slow Cooker: Set it, forget it, regret it?

  • f

Hi all -- I have a big Rival stone ware slow cooker with the removable pot. I love reading and trying the the Crock Pot recipes people have posted on this board, but I find they only seem to turn out well when I'm around to check on it and stir it every hour or so, which, in my mind, kinda defeats the purpose of using the slow cooker in the 1st place. If I leave it on overnight on the lowest setting while I sleep (around eight hours), things tend to burn and stick to the sides quite badly. Lately I've tried the steel cut oats oatmeal and the carmelized onions. Like I said, I always use the low/keep warm setting and even then it seems to cook things at a pretty substanial simmer. I always double the recipe so that I'm cooking a full pot of stuff. Obviously I can lessen the cooking times by many hours and try adding more liquid and that sort of thing, but I always got the impression slow cooker recipes were somewhat of a no brainer (ie hard to ruin), and benefited from lots and lots of time in the pot. Am I wrong on this? Do I need a different slow cooker?

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  1. Maybe something is worng with yours- I've left the onions cooking for up to 24 hours. 8 hours certainly shouldn't be too much time.

    1. i leave my rival slow cooker on high quite often & go off to work. sometimes it sticks a little on the bottom, but, in general, whatever i cook comes out great.

      1. I have a Rival Smart Pot & love it- never had a sticking problem. However, why don't you try it with those slow cooker liners by Reynolds. Maybe that will make a difference & make clean up easier too!

        1. I think perhaps part of it is when you purchased this slow cooker. In the last 10 years or so, crockpot makers have increased the overall cooking temperature due to potential health reasons, saying that cooking at a lower temperature as the older ones do could promote bacteria not being killed off during the cooking. I *think* the new cookers are using an average temp of 225 to 275°, whereas the older models were much lower, allowing for that all-day cooking time.

          I've got an older model from about 25 years ago; I can put stuff in there and let it go for the 8-12 hours the crockpot cookbooks call for. I also have a smaller newer model, and things cook in at least half the time in that one.

          Here's an article that was published in the Hartford Courant back in 2000 - it's no long online, so I can provide a link, but I had saved the article:

          Slow Cookers Change as published in the Hartford Courant, Sept. 20, 2000

          A reader e-mailed the Food desk to comment on a recipe story about crock-pots - or slow cookers, as they are now called - that appeared in the Food section last Wednesday. This man finds that his new crock-pot, a 6-quart Hamilton Beach model, takes less time to cook than his original cooker by the same company.

          Through some research, he found that his old model had a temperature setting of 140 degrees for low. The new model is 180 degrees at low. He says food reaches the boiling point in about 4 to 5 hours.

          A call to Hamilton Beach Proctor-Silex in Glen Allen, VA., confirmed that the new pots have a higher temperature on low. The change was made to prevent any food contamination and ensure that foods cook to the proper temperature.

          Crock-pot cooks should consult the manual that accompanies the cooker and adjust recipes they find elsewhere accordingly. As our e-mailer points out, he has found that a 4-pound pot roast, cooked in his new pot, "is over-done after six hours on low." He compared his experience with the recipe for flank steak with gravy, published in the crock-pot story, which listed cooking times as 8 to 10 hours on "low." This recipe was taken from an older crock-pot cookbook, whose recipes were developed for the older models.


          11 Replies
          1. re: Linda W.

            I have the same problem with my Rival slow cooker and I am glad to know that I'm not crazy. I thought that thing was cooking at too high a temperature. It defeats the purpose of having a slow cooker and I have scorched the heck out of a couple of things. I make sure to add extra stock or water, if what I am preparing can handle additional liquid, and I don't let things cook as long.

            1. re: jillp

              The only way around it is if you live close enough to work (unfortunately, I don't!) come home during lunch and start the cooking process then. That gives it about 6 hours or so to cook at the higher temps, and things don't scorch or get overcooked.

              1. re: Linda W.

                The way is get around this is with an inexpensive light timer from the hardware store. The night before, I combine the ingredients in the crock and refrigerate. Right before I leave the house (about 8:30) I put the cold crock in the cooker and set up the timer to turn on in 2-3 hours. The stuff stays cold enough to keep the food safe; by the time it's warmed up a bit the cooker turns itself on.

                1. re: doctor_mama

                  Good idea - I always forget to check for those timers! But the crockpot I usually use (the larger old one) still works on the slower temps, so I haven't needed one so far. But I should get a timer. Would make the smaller, hotter crockpot a lot more user-friendly!

                  1. re: Linda W.

                    Some Rival slow cookers go to keep warm after n hours (which you set). Just set that to fewer hours, trial and error.

            2. re: Linda W.

              This is really interesting. They should sell them with a temp dial. That way you can set it and take responsibility for the safety.

              It's funny because I always find myself putting way more liquid in than any recipe calls for and I could never figure out why. Great thread.

              1. re: shameless

                Well, there are those companies that don't think we're smart enough to take responsibility for our own safety. Hence the warning on McDonald's coffee cups that says the contents are HOT and you could be burned if you spill it on yourself. Or the warning on hair dryers not to use them in a bathtub filled with water. :-)

                So obviously, along those same lines, the crockpot makers, despite having had no one die (that I'm aware of) from foods cooked in the previously made lower-temp cooking slow cookers, also don't think we're smart enough to be able to make a decision for turning DOWN the temperature on our own crockpot if it had a temperature regulator. :-)

                1. re: Linda W.

                  So what year do you think they started making the new high temp ones. I am thinking about trying to ebay an older one.

                  1. re: shameless

                    Go to a garage sale. They are usually $2-4.

                    1. re: Curmudgeon

                      yes, but my question is how old do they need to be. is 5 years old enough?

                      1. re: shameless

                        No - I'd go back at least 10 years on trying to find an older one on eBay or at a garage sale.

            3. Are you adapting your own recipes to use in your crockpot? If so you may be using too little liquid and may need to increase it.

              When I was considering buying a crockpot I checked another message board on another site and many users of the Rival Smart Pot had the same issues as you do. I think the predominant problem was that it would shut off when it thought the food was done but a lot of people felt it left it on too long as their food came out overcooked. If you can set the timer that comes with it, then maybe you can set it for an hour less and see how that goes.

              Another idea is using it on a high setting for 4-5 hours. I do this on the weekend for stews. I go in and out of the house a lot during the day and I don't want to leave a pot unattended as I have two counter surfing dogs. Besides my funky range can never reproduce the simmer that the CP can. I hope this information helps.