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Crock Pot Problem

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I have used my Crock Pot three of four times, most recently to make black bean soup. I followed the recipe exactly. I have only ever cooked on low. Every time, including this time, the food that I'm cooking burns on top. It gets a dark black color and tastes burnt and bitter. What is the problem? Am I doing something wrong? Or is there something wrong with my Crock Pot?

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  1. ".... Or is there something wrong with my Crock Pot?"

    Yes. On the low heat setting, the crock pot should not reach a temperature high enough to burn the food. It should remain well below the boiling point.

    1. I'm gonna agree with SamD. If you're precooking the black beans, then adding them to the crock pot with a chicken stock or other liquid in the proper amounts, there's no reason at all for them to burn - especially on top. If you're not certain, see if you can borrow a crock pot (slow cooker) from a friend and try it with their appliance before taking yours back where you bought it. But, in your place, I'd raise a ruckus with the store that sold it to me.

      1. I had a crockpot like that once. It cooked way too high and even the warm setting was hot enough to overcook the food.

        1. I've heard that "new" crockpots cook at higher temps than "old" crockpots and that recipes designed for older crockpots don't always work with the newer crockpots. I wonder if that might be part of your issue?

          Or, like everyone said, maybe there's just something wrong with your crockpot.

          ~TDQ

          1. I'd exchange it. There's no reason things should burn in a Crock Pot.

            The only possible cause might be too little liquid, but that shouldn't cause things to burn (but might cause the top to get crusty). As with most cookware, there's a learning curve. Just in case, return it and try again! Good luck!

            1. Thank you all for not insisting that I'm doing something terribly wrong! Although I'm not sure what that would be anyway...

              So I'm done with this slow cooker. Any tips of which ones work well?

              5 Replies
              1. re: maslovma

                My crockpot is a Rival and it has always given me similar temperature problems. I have to cook everything on the "keep warm" setting, so I would not recommend a Rival. The Dairy Queen brought up an interesting point about old crock pots. I think they may have been lower in temps. I had a hand me down that was the same brand, and worked well. I only replaced it because the insert was not removeable for washing.

                1. re: BSpill

                  My new Rival is similar. My assessment is "Complete and Utter Piece Of Garbage." I have the same assessment of Rival's "Customer Service" which consisted entirely of insisting that the same recipe I have used for years must be the culprit and it has nothing to do with the fact that my new pot boils outright on "LOW" where my old one did not. So I keep using my old Rival. I promise that my next crock pot will not be Rival.

                  1. re: BSpill

                    I am on my second Rival, and both of them worked wonderfully, and were very cheap. The plastic lid on the old one cracked afer many years, so I got a new one, which has a glass lid. The ones available where I live in México have only high and low, nothing else. I think that is why they are so reliable. Maybe we are getting just the old models. (To recycle an old crockpot, or anything else, I put it on my front steps. It is gone within hours!) To address the OPs question, take yours back!

                  2. re: maslovma

                    I have an expensive All-Clad I bought at Wms-Sonoma -- really beautiful. There's a more expensive one that you can brown the meat stovetop, first but I like the one I got -- it has a white ceramic insert. With coupons, it's cheaper at Bed, Bath & Beyond but they only carry the black insert. It works well. Both stores I mentioned will take items back with no hassle if you don't like the product.

                    1. re: maslovma

                      I'm a big proponent of choosing a model of any appliance with as few extras, doodads and gadgets as you can get by with. On a slow-cooker, my No. 1 priority is that it should feature a manual knob with three settings: warm, low and high. I can't count the number of times I've seen electronic controls make an otherwise perfectly-usable item worthless.

                      I have a $20 Hamilton Beach that works just fine and is very ergonomic and lightweight. No regrets.

                    2. Its is suggested that you fill your crockpot about two thirds full. If you are filling less than that, possibly the amount of heat generated, for a smaller amount of food, is causing your problem.

                      1. Check out answers to that very question at this crockpotting web site. A lot of it has to do with the size of the pot in relation to the volume of the food. You'll also find a link to crock pot/slow cooker manufacturers.

                        http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: PattiCakes

                          Yes, absolutely.

                          Masiovma, how much food is in your crockpot? If there's a lot of space above, then the heat emanating from the upper portion may explain the top being burnt.

                          Have you cooked with the pot full before?

                        2. The handle cracked on our Crock Pot lid, and when inquiring about replacing that one piece--and mentioning that the glass lid, bottom screw and washer, as well as steel rim are intact--was told that I had to purchase another lid. There's something wrong with the world when all you need is a handle but instead are supposed to dispose of usable parts and replace the whole thing, with the customer service reps ignoring what was said (I only need a handle--the rest is fine [detailed as above]).

                          We are planning to purchase a wooden knob which fits the screw, although we've joked about stealing the handle from one of the stores (not a good alternative, I might add).

                          I feel so old.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Caralien

                            I had a similar problem with my rival. It was barely 3 years old at that point. I was going to do as you are proposing with the wooden knob solution, but shortly after I decided on that solution, the crock-pot basically stopped working anyway. I then purchased a Rival Versaware with the crock that goes from fridge to stove-top to crock-pot to oven to dishwasher and haven't had any problems yet...

                            I've had good luck with the crock-pot recipes from cooking light magazine's website. I sort the recipes by user ratings, and have been working my way down the list, from highest rated to lowest... I skip all the ones with fakey ingredients (thankfully, few have fakey ingredients) . The beef stew one is my favorite http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/rec...

                            Their char siu pork is pretty good too http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/rec...

                            Mind you, these aren't "authentic", but they are easy and quite good.

                            Here's a link to their slow-cooker tips, which mention the issues about old vs. new crock-pots and volume http://www.cookinglight.com/cooking-1...

                            ~TDQ

                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              My crock pot is well used (almost weekly for stocks, more so during the holidays), but was purchased in October 2007!

                              We're still thawing a bison chuck roast (2 days so far, and it's still rock solid) which I plan to use over a thick bed of onions with wine, fat (schmaltz, goat butter, or olive oil), and sea salt to come up with a bison roast and onion soup. The weather has been crazy, so I've been craving winter stews, but then it's 70-80 the next day. :) Soup is always good, and leftovers give us excellent lunches to take to work!

                            2. re: Caralien

                              I had to laugh at this post-- I just replaced the broken knob from my crockpot with a coathook from ikea that I had around.