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Slow Cookers/Crock Pots

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A quick question about basic slow cookers - for simple models, the kind that have on/off/low/medium/high, what is the typical cooking temperature?  And do the more basic slow cookers come with an emergency shut-off if they boil dry?

I'm trying to decide if my sukiyaki grill is actually a slow cooker in disguise, as I've been unsuccessfully looking for a slow cooker locally.  It has a lined inner pan, removable, and a covered burner element below it. The warm temperature is supposed to be 176 F (I need to test this), which I think is about what a slow cooker is.

( for a picture of one similar).

My slow cooker is rather elderly, but still works.  It only has high and low on it.  Generally, most of the recipes that are in the little book that came with it can be cooked on either temperature.  Things just go faster on high.  I like to start things out on high for an hour or two, and then turn it to low. 

My crockpot has a removable ceramic crock.  The crock is dishwasher safe.  I have also used it several times to cook a large quantity of potatoes for mashing in the microwave. 

The heating elements are in the sides, not the bottom.  Because of this, I think that it would take a long, long time for the liquid to boil away - at least on low.  I have no idea how a cooker would work with the heating elements in the bottom.  It does seem like it would burn at some point.

If you decide to try the appliance that you already own as a slow cooker I think that you should do it when you are home and can keep an eye on it.  Frankly, it doesn't sound to me like it would work the same, because of the location of the heating element.  Still - what do I know?  Best of luck trying this out, or in getting a real crockpot.

I've never had a problem with liquid boiling dry.  If anything, the slow cooker keeps too much liquid.  Recipes calling for a dutch oven or covered casserole have to have the liquid cut down or I'll have soup instead of pot roast.  Most slow cooker recipes call for maybe a cup or so of liquid (or a bottle of Guinness in the case of my corned beef).

For slow cookers, the settings are based on wattage, not temperatures, but generally speaking low is ~170F and high is about 200F. I've never seen a slow cooker with an automatic turn off if it boils dry (which I have had happen with baked beans, unfortunately, though only once). The fancier crockpots are programmable in that you can set it to turn to "keep warm" after a certain number of hours, or alternate high and low settings.

It looks like sukiyaki grills are basically slow cookers with the heating element on the bottom (most modern ones have side elements as well) and a raised bottom for grilling.

My crock pot is digital, so I'm not much help there, but I did discover that its "warm" setting (lower than low) is 160 degrees. I discovered this when experimenting with using it as a sous-vide and set it to heat to 140 degrees. Upon reaching 140 degrees, it reverted to "warm". And heated it to 160 degrees.

I don't think I've ever seen one with an auto-off.


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