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Buying a crock pot

I'm new to the crock pot game. Seems like it would be great for Shabbat and week night dinners. I would love to start getting into the habit of preparing cholent.
Ay recommendations on what to buy? Not looking to spend a fortune, and I'm not feeding an army.

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  1. Oddly enough, my recommendation is that you buy a low-end crockpot. Most of the higher-end ones nowadays will automatically kick into 'warm' mode after 12 hours, which doesn't make for a good chulent.

    2 Replies
    1. re: GilaB

      I agree about the low end suggestion. The bells and whistles won't do you any good on Shabbos/Yom Tov anyway. The higher end ones seem to have higher temperature, which can be too much for long slow cooking, and the medium is too low.
      Walmart, a store I generally stay away from, had a nice selection of sizes the last time I was there. Obviously you want one large enough for your needs, but too big is also no good.
      Finally, I think that these days they all have a removable inner crock, which may be important to you for halachic reasons.

      1. re: helou

        I was looking at a cuisinart model in Costco for $40.

        Forgetting about Shabbat for a min, but the high end models look too complicated for me!

    2. Consumer Reports ratings from a couple years ago:

      1. All Clad 99005
      2. Rival Crock-Pot SCVC604H-SS
      3. Hamilton Beach Set 'N Forget 33967

      We bought a pretty standard HB model at Target and are very happy.

      1. I like the Crockpot brand Manual one. I made the mistake of buying a Hamilton Beach slow cooker and it automatically shuts off completely after 16 hours. The Crockpot brand is sold in Target.

        1. Don't forget to buy a package of liners! For once, the heimish brand (Israeli company called "Cookit") is cheaper and better quality than the US national brand. (Reynolds, I think.)

          Put some water in the pot before putting the bag in. Put the bag into the pot and make sure that the bag is NOT folded down on the sides or else the condensation will go all over your counter. After your cholent is in the bag, point the sides of the bag up over the lid. Sort of like a U shape before you put the lid on. I am not explaining this very well, but just remember that gravity is not your friend here and any time the side of the bag is pointed downwards you will get scuzz all over your counter.

          When you go to serve it, resist the temptation to lift the entire bag out of the pot and dump the contents into a serving bowl. It will still be too hot to do that. Trust me.

          11 Replies
          1. re: SoCal Mother

            Where would I get the liners? They don't melt or leave a weird taste? Should I use the liners only for cholent or every time I use the crock pot?

            Sorry for all the questions! New to the idea of a crock pot....

            1. re: cheesecake17

              Most kosher grocery stores/supermarkets carry them.

              1. re: cheesecake17

                I feel that the liners detract somehow from the taste of the cholent. On the other hand, they do simplify clean-up markedly. They are available at any Jewish food store.

                1. re: cheesecake17

                  Don't use them at all. They do make cleanup easier, but in general, plastics exposed to hot food leach chemicals (notably phthalates like BPA) into your food.

                  1. re: GilaB

                    I figure once I am eating flanken and kishke, the plastic is the least of my worries. I buy mine in the kosher section of my local supermarket but the national brand liners are available everywhere. They most likely have less of a toxin problem than the heimishe brands.

                    1. re: SoCal Mother

                      This line of thinking is way off, imo.

                  2. re: cheesecake17

                    An easy way to clean the crock pot if you don't use the liner is to fill it up with hot water, drop in a dryer sheet, and let it soak overnight. Anything burnt on wipes off easily the next day - and dryer sheets are way cheaper than using a liner, and your food isn't cooking in plastic.

                    Note: I am not a kosher eater, so if this is somehow not an option, please know that I didn't mean to offend, just trying to be helpful.

                    1. re: jw615

                      I don't see why there would be a kashrut problem and this sounds like a great idea. My crock pot is a clay, unglazed pot. If you think this method will work on it, I'll check out the ingredients on the dryer sheet package and if there are no scarey chemicals, I give it a try.

                      1. re: lburrell

                        I use it whenever I cook something that gets particularly nasty in the crock pot - also works in regular pans as well.

                        I used to cook for a daycare - I used dryer sheets to rescue my favorite pot after a sub scorched barbeque chicken on the bottom of it - it was pretty much hopeless before the soaking.

                      2. re: jw615

                        Wow thanks

                        I'll definitely try that

                    2. re: SoCal Mother

                      I just love the liners. I have a very good dishwasher, but unless I set it to high heat pot scrubber mode (which I really don't need or use for other dishes) I have to do a lot by hand.

                      Also, ugh, just scraping and cleaning the leftovers out of the crock is so unpleasant. With the liner, just throw it all away and stick the quite clean crock in the dishwasher.

                    3. I've had a series of Rival Crockpots. I currently have the 4 qt, manual one -- the stainless steel with a black crock. It is flawless for cholent and I also use it during the week on nights that I am getting home late and want dinner to be waiting. It is also quite inexpensive, and lasts forever (unless you drop the crock!).

                      1. Despite the negative reviews, I'm very fond of this crockpot: http://www.amazon.com/13007-BEC-4-Qt-...

                        I've used it on a fairly regular basis and it is very reliable. It does run rather hot for slow-cooking most things but the highest setting is useful for stuff like softening winter squash for cubing.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: CloggieGirl

                          I have found the liners to be unnecessary since the inner part of the crock pot lifts out and is easy to clean. I usually just put it in the dishwasher.

                        2. I have had a Rival Crock Pot Versa-Are (meaning a stoneware, unglazed insert) 6 quart for several years. It can be set to cook on low or hot for up to 20 hours and then will switch to warm. I have used it many many times. I do recommend a liner. This insert is too larger for the top shelf of my dishwasher and I haven't wanted to wash it in the bottom since it would take up so much space. It will clean fairly easily after soaking, especially if you use a little baking soda as an abrasive. The one caveat I have is that if the insert is not totally dry and you put it away with the top on, you will get some (easily removed) mildew. I now place the lid separately or put it inside standing against the side. Some reviewers have said that you cant get a replacement for the lid, so I've been very careful. You have to treat this pot like a clay pot. If you do, it will work very well for you.

                          1. Ok, so I bought one! A 7qt with a removable stoneware crock. We were in Aldi's on Sunday, and I saw it for $19.99... It's a little bigger than what I was looking at, but several customers told me they had it and we're pleased. The manager mentioned that he bought the same one several years ago and uses t several times a week. And... If I don't like it...bring it back for a refund!

                            Now.... What shall I cook in it? I'd love to keep it parve for as long as possible.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: cheesecake17

                              Mine has been parve/vegan for years. Here's one website with a lot of vegan slow cooking recipes and hints: http://healthyslowcooking.com/ Like many vegan bloggers this woman is very responsive to questions and freely gives suggestions. I also have three vegan slow cooker books, all helpful: The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester; Quick and Easy Vegan Slow Cooking, by Carla Kelly, and my latest acquisition: Fresh from the Vegan Slow cooker by Robin Robertson (She also wrote Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, which would be a good initial acquisition. There are a lot of ways to use this cooker. For example, one Sukkot night I made a vegan lasagne, I cooked it in a loaf pan that fit into my cooker. I placed it on top of baby carrots and some onions. It cooked in about 4 hours and was very easy to serve from the loaf pan. Another hint, if you don't like plastic liners, you can tear some parchment paper and place it one the bottom of the cooker. This keeps stuff like tomato sauce from becoming part of the cooker!!
                              Do remember that if the cooker isn't totally dry when you put it away with the top on, you may get some mildew. This scrubs right off, but best to be sure it has aired out, or store, as I do, with the top leaning inside, not closing the top.

                              1. re: cheesecake17

                                Which brand did you end up getting?

                                1. re: Bzdhkap

                                  It's an Aldi's private label.

                                  They also had a steam mop, iron, set of cookware...

                              2. We have a Presto Chef's Pot Plus (made in USA, for those who are interested), which has a continuous thermostat control, and can cook in either the primary pot or the crock pot insert. Advantage is that you can cook the cholent beforehand, and keep warm throughout Shabbos at a setting too low to cook and too high to incubate. Or, you can turn it up and cook the cholent over Shabbos (raw meat). And you can use it for other things too.

                                1. West Bend, the best by far. Nothing burns and variable heat setting makes this very versatile. Read the reviews at Amazon.

                                  $35 - 5 Quart - http://www.amazon.com/West-Bend-84905...

                                  $69 - 6 quart - http://www.amazon.com/West-Bend-84866...

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: HaroldC

                                    What I like best about my slow cooker,a Rival Versa Ware-pro Crock Pot, is that I can set it for low or high for a period of time up to 20 hours and it will automatically switch to warm. This is very useful when using it for overnight Shabbat cooking. I don't think I would want to go back to another one without this feature.