Nov 13
2008

The Search for the Perfect Slow Cooker

in Uncategorized

Today has been a LONG day (but a good one) and I am exhausted. So instead of a normal post I’m going to answer a question that was asked recently by one of you! Alisa left the following comment on my recent Slow Cooker Asian Short Ribs post:

This will be the first recipe I make with a slow cooker. I just need to get one first ;) Can you please recommend a nice one?

Thanks!!

I should start off by saying that although there are several things that I really like about my own slow cooker, for the most part it is driving me crazy!
So first and foremost, I would NOT recommend buying the one I have, which is a Rival Oval 6-Quart Stoneware Slow Cooker. Okay, in all fairness, my slow cooker is now 7 years old because Mr. Fuji and I got it as a wedding gift (and it’s my fault, not someone else’s, that I don’t like it, because I picked it out!), so Rival may have fixed some of the problems I have with mine. However, they definitely haven’t fixed all of them! It looks like this is the most current model of what I have:
Okay, so why don’t I like this slow cooker? Well for starters, the lid is a bad fit. There is a ton of space between the glass lid and the ceramic pot and so way too much moisture escapes. I usually resort to sealing off the cracks with plastic wrap which greatly improves its performance. The lid design on this new one is different than mine, as mine is all glass, and this one has a screw on lid, so I don’t know about the fit. I have read a bunch of other reviews though that complains about the handle breaking on this one, so there are obviously problems there!

One thing I do like is that when the cooking time you selected is complete, the slow cooker automatically shifts into warming mode. However, I don’t like that I can’t switch the slow cooker into warming mode myself. The only way to go into warming mode is to have it finish a cooking time cycle. What if it cooks quicker than you were expecting and you want to switch it to warming until it is time for your meal? Well, with this slow cooker you would be out of luck.
I do like the size of this slow cooker. I personally think that having a larger slow cooker is preferable, since then you have the flexibility of cooking a lot if you want/need to. It is really nice to be able to cook a large roast without any space problems. I also like the oval shape as this allows you to lay a roast down on its side. I like that the actual ceramic pot is removable, as it is much easier to clean, and it is nice and heavy, so it has done a good job of withstanding me accidentally bumping against things when I am cleaning it or putting it away.

Now when it comes to actually recommending one, I’m looking myself and haven’t decided on one yet! This is a helpful guide on buying a slow cooker: How to Buy a Slow Cooker, and this Top Ten Picks list might also prove to be helpful.

Any suggestions from you guys?

* Don’t forget! You have until tomorrow (Thursday, November 13, 2008) at 10:00 PM PST to enter the Enstrom’s Chocolate Almond Toffee Giveaway (go here for instructions on how to enter).

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }



tamakikat November 13, 2008 at 4:16 am

Heya.

I don’t have a slow cooker. I use the old-fashioned but effective Japanese way. I bring things to a boil on the stove top. Then I wrap the covered pot in newspaper a towel and then a blanket. When I get home my ‘oden’ and the like is all cooked through and delish:) All very well for Japanese dishes but I’m not sure about a chicken or the like. Unfortunately finding a whole chicken to cook in Kyoto is near impossible so I can’t try it out. Care to give it a try and get back to us anyone?

TK

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Damaris November 13, 2008 at 9:05 am

I use slow cookers a lot. I have a similar rival and a smaller older model. Recently I have been really hesitant to use my newer model, the one you have Fuji Mama, because of all the claims to lead. Lead is apparently common in the ceramic pots of slow cooker. FDA has very bad regulations regarding lead in slow cookers. Meaning, they don’t really regulate it. Lead is a real problem and a huge concern and apparently the Rival brand has not dealt properly with this issue. If you google “lead in slow cookers” you’ll find a lot of information. There is one slow cooker that apparently is certified lead free. It is not a Rival. I don’t remember the brand but I’m sure you can look it up.

good luck buying one that is safe for you and your family.

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Jackie November 13, 2008 at 9:48 am

Yikes didn’t know about the lead. I have a Rival similar to the newer one you have pictured and I have many problems but none that I can’t get around. The lid doesn’t fit like yours so I end up covering the top with foil and then putting the lid on top. I’ve tried the slowcooker disposable liners and I like that for the really messy stuff but I’ve found you still need to clean the pot.
I love using slowcookers though! Sooo easy!

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Meg November 13, 2008 at 10:51 am

Lead? I didn’t know that! I will have to read up on that issue.
I have one similar to the one shown, but in black(can’t deal with white appliances). I don’t have an issue with the lid and my handles are fine. Watch, I say that and tomorrow they will fall off. The timer is fine with me, but usually because I slow cook everything on low for 10 hours. Or at least I used to, when I was working 10 hours a day. I love that you can take the center out and wash it. My parents old one wasn’t like it and I hated cleaning it.
I haven’t used the liners, because of the environmental issue.
A friend got the Kitchen Aid one for her wedding. I should ask her about it. For the outragous price, it should be wonderful.

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Alisa November 13, 2008 at 11:44 am

Thank you all for the info on the slow cookers. I appreciate it. I am going to do some good research, before I make a purchase. I am just sooo excited to make those ribs ;)

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THE EAST November 13, 2008 at 1:50 pm

Dear Rachael

Hope all is well.
We always enjoy reading your blog.
Just wanted to let you know that we have just launched new website (www.theeast.org).
Please take a look and hope you have a good day.

Many thanks and kind regards,

Hyung Wook Lee
Managing Director / Editor in Chief
MBA(Edin)

THE EAST, The East Asian Monthly Business Newspaper,
Elephant Consulting Limited, 160 Central Road, Worcester Park, Surrey, KT4 8HQ, UK
Tel : + 44 (0) 7912 608 321 / Web site: http://www.theeast.org / E mail : md@theeast.org
Registered in England & Wales, Company No. 6254454

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Susan November 13, 2008 at 4:49 pm

Couldn’t you just unplug it, plug it back in, and set it to warm?

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Fuji Mama November 13, 2008 at 4:51 pm

Susan– Nope! I wish! There is no way to get it to go to warm other than having it complete a 4, 6, 8, or 10 hour cooking cycle. That’s on mine at least, which is 7 years old. They may have changed this on the newer models–I’m not sure.

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Kathy Newkirk November 29, 2009 at 10:11 am

I made a chicken cacciatore recipe which smelled great.   When I tasted it, it had an odd bitter taste, and needed salt (which you're supposed to add after cooking.)  I remembered that bitter taste as the reason I stopped using the Crock Pot years ago.  I added only about 1/2 tsp. oregano & thyme.  Would that have done it? I added salt and still tasted the bitterness.  Should I add more?  Has anyone else noticed this bitterness?

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) November 29, 2009 at 11:08 am

Kathy– I guess I’ve been lucky because I’ve never had a problem with my food getting any weird flavors in the slow cooker, but I have heard of other people having problems. What type of Crock Pot are you using? When did you add in the herbs? Some herbs/spices take on a metallic/bitter taste when they are added in too early in the slow cooking process. Did your chicken cacciatore recipe call for wine? This could also have been the problem. Some wines don’t do well in slow cookers and take on a metallic/bitter taste. I hope that helps!

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awang October 9, 2010 at 9:32 pm

I am looking to purchace an oval shap ceramic pot only of a slow cooker.
The only information available is as follows:

slow cooker 240v-200w
product of yano densan co.ltd.

lucky brand – removal serv er

the tensil on the top glass cover is marked ” 3B-20″ AND “625-C”
Any chance to advise me where shall i get the replacement.

thanks

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RoseliliNewman January 23, 2013 at 9:14 am

I always use Japanese stuff. I never use any Chinese products because it is easy to break and much toxic. I always warn my family and friend not to use any Chinese products too. The perfect products that are made from Japan and Germany.

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