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Old Vs New Slow-Cookers (Hotter): How Do I Check Mine?

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This is my first-ever post. I'm not a "hard core" cook by any means, I've recently just started doing a very small amount of "real" slow-cooking after liking how the Banquet Slow Cooker Meals tasted. Also, someone had made taco soup once and they shared the recipe with me, my method was to brown the meat, throw all of the ingredients (corn, hominy, taco seasoning, tomatoes, beans) into the slow cooker on high for 2-odd hours then dialing it back to low for an hour or so, then assuming a "keep warm" stance (or turning it off). From there, I've been looking at new recipes to start making more new types of food.

In my digging aro und, I was reading some posts in here (found via a Google search) & have just now tonight learned about how, apparently, older slow cookers don't cook at as hot of a temperature as newer models (apparently since 2004) and thus do a better job, not being as prone to "scalding" the food.

What's funny is that I have 2 Crock Pots, a 3045 and a 3355, the former I just got at a yard sale for $1. I also bought a Hamilton beach 33155, a $16.88 model frequently sold at WalMart, because it has a "keep warm" setting that my 2 Crock Pots didn't have. I was about to give the 3045 away figuring I didn't need 3 CrockPots, when I learned of this phenomenon and I changed my mind; in fact, the 3045 SEEMS to be a bit less hot to the touch than the 3355.

Now, having learned of this phenomenon, I want to address it.

The original post I found (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/758912) spoke of this and one person described how their "non-hot" CrockPot had "flowery designs" on it. Both of mine do. The 3045 has "little flowers" bordering around the top, larger ones on the bottom. The 3355 has big flowers bordering the top, none on the bottom. The ceramic is removable with both, the cord is fixed.

This article (http://busycooks.about.com/library/we...) spoke of how to check for how hot your slow cooker heats up to, saying it should hit about 185'F on low. This article (http://www.delcollo.us/icp/crockostat...) spoke of how to build a "Crock-O-Stat."

Now, my questions.

(1) I searched for information on my 2 Crock Pots, the 3045 and 3355, but I could find nothing about them in terms of the date of manufacturer & their temperature behaviors. How do I find this information out? (For what it's worth, the 3355, which I've had for sometime, has been what I used for those Banquet Slow Cooker "meal in bag" thingies & it seems on-target, although it burns the food on low if I keep it there too long, my Hamilton Beach--I can't tell yet how it COOKS, but in terms of keeping food warm without burning, the "Keep Warm" setting seems to do that.

(2) The link I mentioned describes how to check the temperatures on "low," and states to look for 185'F or so, but says nothing of the targets to shoot for regarding "high." What temperatures should I be looking for?

(3) The new Hamilton Beach 33155, the $16.88 one at WalMart, has anyone heard of the behavior of that model?

(4) I am very new at this, and any recipes I've found have been recent ones at websites. Are those apt to be assuming the new hotter behaviors, and if so, what's the point of dialing back to "vintage" behaviors to begin with?

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  1. A test that I've seen described (but never tried myself) is to put 2 quarts of room-temperature water in the crock pot and heat on low. The newer models will get to over 165F in 2 hours and over 185F in 8 hours, whereas the older models will not achieve these temperatures so rapidly. But I've not tried this test... mine is an older model (bought more than a decade ago) so perhaps I'll try this and see.