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What vintage of used Slow Cooker should I look for?

The slow cooker I bought in @ 2004 cooks too hot. Since I'm gone all day at work, I have to cook on Low for 10 hours, and meat and veggies always come out overcooked. For the longest time, I thought it was me, even though I was following the recipes. But lately, I've read a lot about the newer slow cookers running hot, due to a change in the USDA regulations - apparently, they were worried that meats took too long to get to a food-safe temperature. I finally tested my slow cooker - following the guidelines to heat water for 8 hours and then take the temperature. In all cases, whether I heated the water on High, Low or Keep Warm, the water was bubbling and the temp after 8 hours was 212. Boiling! No wonder all my food was overcooked!

So now I'd like to buy a used slow cooker from the days before the USDA issued their new rules. The problem is that I've done numerous searches and can't find the year they did that. Does anyone know? Alternatively, I'm open to suggestions for a new model slow cooker that doesn't run too hot. (I've read a lot of slow cooker reviews, some of which are complimentary, but I'd rather get direct recommendations from my trusted fellow Chowhounders.)

Thank you!

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  1. I don't know a thing about slow cookers, but I recently read that many of them (presumably older ones) contain lead in both the glaze and the ceramic. Here's a blog post that has links to articles etc. (and I don't know a thing about this blogger either, but the links might be legit):

    http://simplyserina.wordpress.com/200...

    8 Replies
    1. re: sciencediet

      Oh dear, I have one of the earliest crockpots. Not the very first - mine has a removeable crock - but a real, harvest-gold crockpot with an old-fashioned plug.

      1. re: sciencediet

        I wonder if we are making a bigger deal than it really is. Like you said, people used to use slow cookers with lead based glaze in America. Pretty much the last two generations. We don't have a huge death tolls in those period. Yes, lead can lower intelligent development, lowering the IQ. There was an article I read about the fact we are using less lead in cookware and therefore the future (American) generation will have higher IQ and therefore increasing productivity... etc.

        Frankly, I doubt the next generation will have higher productivity regardless of the lead. Maybe increase productivity from increasing technology advances, but not productivity because they are higher IQ -- if.

        1. re: sciencediet

          If you are worried about lead in an older crock, you could always use a liner like these:
          http://www.amazon.com/Reynolds-Alumin...
          They work great and virtually no cleanup. They're usually available in the same section of the supermarket as the baggies, foil, etc.

          1. re: al b. darned

            Aluminum? You know what that'll do to you?

            1. re: giantmouth

              The bags aren't aluminum. From Reynolds' Web site: "Reynolds® Slow Cooker Liners are made of heat resistant nylon and designed to make slow cooker cleanup fast and easy. "

              http://www.reynoldspkg.com/reynoldski...

              1. re: giantmouth

                Approximately every single restaurant in the United States uses aluminum skillets. What will aluminum do to me?

                1. re: John E.

                  giantmouth hasn't posted since Sep. Regardless, it sounds like a sarcastic joke to me. By the way, I don't know anything about the Foodsaver question you have. I would think your best bet is to contact the company and see if they have any manual specifically for your model.

                  Do you know any of these manuals come close to looking like your model?

                  http://www.foodsaver.com/manuals.aspx

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    I didn't notice the date of the post, just that this thread popped up. None of the manuals on your link is the one I'm looking for. I did find that page earlier. I also found someone else that had no luck in requesting a manual from the company since the company has been sold a couple of times since the unit I have was made. I probably can use it without the manual, but by mild OCB nature compels me to look for one.

          2. I totally understand. I was doing the same thing with my brand new "fancy dancy" slow cooker that I just now gave away! I followed older recipes I had used many times before- and it consistently turned out overcooked food.Frustrating. I got rid of it and bought an old Rival from the second hand shop. I liked it so much, I bought two more in different sizes. It is butt ugly powder room blue. You will sacrifice style for function but they are great. Look for ugly colors and insipid flowers or veggies scalloped across the top! You can't go wrong! LOL

            2 Replies
            1. re: sedimental

              LOL. I can live with the ugly patterns and colors, since I store my slow cooker in the cabinet, anyway. Thanks for the verification about the older slow cooker!

              1. re: sedimental

                Yours may be "powder-room blue", but mine is the classic "baby blew" (otherwise known as harvest gold).

              2. I noticed basically the same thing using a cheap slow cooker last winter. It had three settings: keep warm, low and high. I finally the figured out the keep warm was actually low, low was high and high was really high. After using it to make whole grain breakfast cereal (whole oats, wheat, rye, barley) several times on high the wiring burned up and we threw away the heating element part of the thing. We intended to keep the crock and use it in the oven as a deep casseole (oval shaped 6 quart) but when the need arose we couldn't find it.

                1 Reply
                1. re: John E.

                  It is so disappointing that the newer slow cookers are so problematic. 2 years ago I purchased a cuisinart slow cooker, and this past weekend the crock insert began making pinging noises. Fortunately I was at home, because it turned out to have several fissures running up the length of the crock.
                  While I was reasonably happy with this cooker, it is disappointing that these newer ones don't seem to last very long. I have contacted Cuisinart a second time to inquire about this (no response yet) because I am not interested in buying their $40 replacement crock if this is going to happen again.

                2. If you don't need a really small slowcooker, there's a solution in a small "roaster oven." The smallest is 6qts, but you can set it as low as 150, which solves the problem of the newer slow cookers boiling everything. The one I bought is the Nesco 4816-25-30PR Professional 6-Quart Stainless Steel Roaster Oven.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: valereee

                    Can you leave it on for 10 hours while you're away from the house?

                    1. re: goodeatsgal

                      goodeatsgal, it's billed as a roaster/slow cooker. There is ZERO in the instructions about not leaving it. I don't think I'd set it at 450 and leave the house, but at under 200, I would. It looks EXACTLY like a slow cooker. The only issue is that you have to decide what "low" and "high" temperatures mean. My understanding is that in the UK, which never changed their slowcookers from the original idea, low is probably around 170 and high around 200.

                  2. I had one that ran too hot but my newest programmable is fine. I'd find one w/ a timer so it'll turn down when it's ready and just keep the food hot. I wouldn't buy one w/out that. I have a Rival from Costco now and it came w/ a mini crock which has been perfect for fondue.. This one looks close but mine is a couple of years old:

                    http://www.crock-pot.com/Product.aspx...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: chowser

                      Maybe you just have to get lucky. I also have a Rival Crock Pot that is programmable with the countdown, similar to the one in the link.. But it's more than a couple of years old and it is stainless and black. I've been afraid to try a Rival again.

                      1. re: goodeatsgal

                        It's really odd how they're so different. The one I had before ran so hot that even the warm setting burned the food. I can't remember the make/model. But, this one is fine.