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Author: licoricetwist Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 175177  
Subject: Slow cookers Date: 17/08/2008 15:32
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I know it's a long while since the rest of the chat about slow cookers, but I've got a question...

I've been doing all-day slow cooking in my oven for decades. Just set the temperature to about 90 deg C or just below gas Mk 1/4. Works a treat, whether for curry or for pot roast. (See Stella Atterbury's "Leave it to Cook: Slow cooking method")

However, electric ovens take around 2500 watts, and a slow cooker about 150-300W, so I thought it was time I got one. Always avoided it because it is something else to store.

The whole point of the method (whether in oven or crock pot) is to cook at between 80-100 degrees - just below boiling. Unless you put them on high. So if it's bubbling, and on Low, it's too hot to do 'slow cooking'.

I've just bought a Compact one from Lakeland (by Team, GBP 20), 1.5 litre - just the right size to serve 2-3 people. But things cook too fast - it seems to me that Low is behaving like High. I returned a previous one (Bonne Cusine GBP 10) for the same problem.

Is it just the way they are made these days? Does everyone have this problem of 'slow' not being slow? Or is it more likely with a small pot than a large one? Or is it 'pot luck' - if I swap it for another one from Lakeland, will it be different? Or even, can I slow down the one I've got? Does anyone know?

Thanks for any insights!
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Author: firstlight40 One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140738 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 17/08/2008 16:10
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It's a common fallacy to think that the wattage of a heating device is the only thing that tells you how much it costs to run.

A modern oven may have a heating element rated at 2000W but if it is well insulated and has a good thermostat it does not take much energy to heat up, and the insulation will keep it at that temperature without using much more power.

So, by all means carry on using your oven to heat things up if you are used to it, the amount of time it will take you to recoup the cost of the slow cooker may be quite long...

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Author: licoricetwist Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140740 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 17/08/2008 16:41
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> A modern oven may have a heating element rated at 2000W but if
> it is well insulated and has a good thermostat it does not take
> much energy to heat up, and the insulation will keep it at that
> temperature without using much more power.

By the same token, a slow cooker will not take much to heat up (much smaller) and also has a thermostat. And takes about 1/20th of the energy while running. Which seems to me to add up quite quickly. (I suspect most ovens are not well insulated, or my kitchen wouldn't get so warm when I use it).

However, it is worth using the oven when I want to cook 3 or 4 things at a time, which isn't possible in a slow cooker.

I should probably make time to track the actual units used, to compare...

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Author: firstlight40 One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140741 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 17/08/2008 17:09
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Hi

Since you reckon you know more about electricity and physics than a chartered electrical engineer then I'll leave you to it,
;-)

except to say once more that a well insulated modern oven with a good thermostat uses no more energy than a slow cooker.

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Author: jannijan Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140742 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 17/08/2008 19:35
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I have two slow cookers, one from the clearing out of my mothers' kitchen, 1980 vintage, and the other from a charity shop (electrician tested), they are both old and slow. I use them all the time, the original one for dog food (Eat Me Today mince etc from supermarkets) and the other for everything else, especially big soups in the winter. When we have a chicken I put the carcass in with some water for about three days and it makes about three meals for the dog as the bones get so soft she can eat it all. (I do sort it through in case of any sharp bits). So I think the answer is to get a really old Slow Cooker and it will be just that!

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Author: GolfKilo Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140744 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 17/08/2008 19:46
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Going off topic slightly, but could we please have the recipe for curry?

Thanks

gk

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Author: pancake101 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140745 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 17/08/2008 21:13
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Which curry?

I do a slow cooker pork and pineapple curry, I've posted that one here before (but can post again if thats the one!)

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Author: licoricetwist Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140746 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 17/08/2008 21:27
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So, you are saying that a 3kW oven, which (well insulated) is heating up something like 5-6 cu ft of space, uses no more electricity per hour than a 100W (on low - 150W on high) slow cooker which also has a thermostat and is only warming 1.5 litres?

I guess, thinking through the maths, it would make sense if the 3kW oven only has the thermostat light on for 2 min per hour. I could work out from that how well insulated my own oven is, or isn't.

Thanks for the info.

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Author: mutantpoodle Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140747 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 17/08/2008 21:30
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if you 'cuil' chicken curry'
or
'coconut curry'

you will get all sorts of workable recipes

IMO

DO NOT fry/seal the meat before putting into slow cooker
it prevents the meat taking the flavours

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Author: GolfKilo Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140748 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 17/08/2008 22:29
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Reference the request for curry recipe(s), I was just picking up the reference in the OP's post:

I've been doing all-day slow cooking in my oven for decades. Just set the temperature to about 90 deg C or just below gas Mk 1/4. Works a treat, whether for curry or for pot roast. (See Stella Atterbury's "Leave it to Cook: Slow cooking method")

If anyone has a recipe for doing something in the slow cooker, I'd be very grateful.

Thanks

gk

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Author: DJdeBenedetti One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140749 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 18/08/2008 08:54
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So, you are saying that a 3kW oven, which (well insulated) is heating up something like 5-6 cu ft of space, uses no more electricity per hour than a 100W (on low - 150W on high) slow cooker which also has a thermostat and is only warming 1.5 litres?

The interior volume is irrelevant, the only thing that matters is the heat flux through the walls of the vessel. So, although the oven has more area of wall, the argument is that the better insulation means the heat loss per unit wall area is sufficiently lower to more than balance this. What is the insulation like on a slow cooker?

DJ

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Author: 0lddog One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140752 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 18/08/2008 13:11
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...a well insulated modern oven with a good thermostat uses no more energy than a slow cooker.

Yes, but have you ever seen any form of 'energy rating' for an electric oven ?

I have not.

Indeed the manufacturer of the cooker that I have does not let on how much power any part of it can consume.

For myself, I'm on the lookout for a large thermos with a wide neck. I believe that this could make a very economical slow cooker !

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Author: ErroneousBee Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140753 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 18/08/2008 13:14
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What is the insulation like on a slow cooker?
Its little more than an air gap between crockpot and slow cooker wall.

The 2400watt oven will not be on all the time once its reached temperature, but even if its on 1 minute in 10 it will be taking 240watts. Energy usage of a real oven in a real kitchen cant be derived*, only measured, so unless someone chimes in with actual measured energy usage, we have no data to base any conclusions on.

However, its often the case that the heat leaking from an oven/cooker/CPU just goes to heating the house, making the whole issue moot during the winter.

* Well, OK it can be, consider a spherical cow, assume a perfect wife, etc.

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Author: Scott0966 Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140754 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 18/08/2008 14:08
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Yes, but have you ever seen any form of 'energy rating' for an electric oven ?

I have

I have not.

Look harder.
http://www.currysknow-how.co.uk/en/Buyers-guides/Cookers/Ene...

(Gas ones are exempt)

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Author: ngaunt Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140756 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 18/08/2008 14:47
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So, you are saying that a 3kW oven, which (well insulated) is heating up something like 5-6 cu ft of space, uses no more electricity per hour than a 100W (on low - 150W on high) slow cooker which also has a thermostat and is only warming 1.5 litres?

When "heating up" the oven uses much more energy. No doubt about that. But it only takes a few minutes to heat up.

Once it is up to operating temperature, all that matters is the energy you are LOSING through the sides. That's all the element has to provide, and all you are paying for.

The slow cooker has a much smaller surface area. But the oven, being static and heavy, undoubtably has much better insulation. At a wild guess, I'd say the overall heat loss was fairly similar. Obviously with better and worse instances of both depending on how well made they are. I have no doubt firstlight's assertion that "the best modern ovens" are cheaper than a typical slow cooker is true.
Also, the oven can cook several things at once for the same price ;o)

ATB
Nige

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Author: nicketisa Two stars, 250 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140757 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 18/08/2008 17:18
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Hi,

I just want to say that a neighbour of mine has experienced EXACTLY the same problem and also returned 2 slow-cookers bought from Lakeland. (I have nothing against the company as I use them all the time and their service is perfect). Your best bet might be to buy an old one from the car-boot sale or charity shop. Mine is a Morphy Richards which I bought from Tesco and works a treat.

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Author: pancake101 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140758 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 18/08/2008 18:42
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I would second that modern slow cookers are hotter than the old fashioned ones.

My ancient second hand tower replaced the 20 year old tower I had that met an untimely death.

I was given a delonghi but its far too hot! I can hear food bubbling away in it!

I use them both as they are different sizes.

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Author: JonSpence Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140759 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 18/08/2008 19:01
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Yes, but have you ever seen any form of 'energy rating' for an electric oven ?

Look harder.
(Gas ones are exempt)


To clarify, as an engineer.

Gas cookers need a flow of air to burn the gas, hence can NOT be as insulated as an electric cooker could be. In the past people have been burned by the outside of cooker doors. Hence there are now regulations about how hot that they can become. Usualy this is now done by blowing cool air through a double walled door.

In simple terms the smaller the volume that you heat, the less surface area it has, the better insulated the compartment is and the lower the temperature difference between inside and out then the less energy you will use. This is true of ovens, slow cookers and houses.

If you are realy trying to be frugal then you might consider Hay box cooking. The cooking is done by residual heat rather than providing energy to offset that lost.

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Author: Howyoodoin Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140760 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 18/08/2008 19:40
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I'm an extremely slow cooker.

My energy rating varies between zero and very lethargic.

I think i'm what you might term as 'green' when it comes to cooking.

Not sure that's a good thing though.

:-/

HYD

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Author: pancake101 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140761 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 18/08/2008 20:09
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PORK AND PINEAPPLE CURRY

1kg pork cut into cubes
Flour
Salt
Cooking oil
Large onion chopped
Curry powder 1 tbsp
Paprika 1 tbsp
Chicken stock half a pint
2 dried red chillies
Mango chutney 1 tbsp
Worcester sauce 1 tsp
Tin pineapple cubes 1lb can (use juice too)
2 bay leave

Those are the ingredients ...the recipes says fry onions, seal the meat etc add every thing , bring to boil and transfer .... me ? I just chop the onions and meat up and stick it in the slow cooker in the morning and by evening its ...mmmmmmm yumm!

This has never been anything less than delicious!

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Author: venice2001 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140763 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 19/08/2008 10:17
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"However, its often the case that the heat leaking from an oven/cooker/CPU just goes to heating the house, making the whole issue moot during the winter."

Unless you're my mum, who insists that the kitchen windows be fully opened while cooking to let the steam out, even in the middle of winter.

Then she wonders why her heating bills are so high (and house so cold).

I've tried to convince her she would probably save money (in winter) by shutting the windows and buying a de-humidifier. I'm pretty sure the costs of running such a unit would be less than the cost of the energy she's wasting with the windows open, although I don't have any numbers to back that up (but the same argument would surely apply, that any energy used by the dehumidifier would just disipate into the room, thereby offseting the heating cost, albeit the heat would come from electricity instead of the (cheaper) gas central heating).

Has anyone had any experience of using de-humidifiers? Would they be able to keep a kitchen reasonably damp free? Do they cost much to run?

- venice2001.

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Author: ThauMatin Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140764 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 19/08/2008 10:32
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Has anyone had any experience of using de-humidifiers?

Yes and I think they are very useful.

Our main damp problem is in winter in the bathroom (lots of people taking lots of baths), so the dehumidifier runs in there, usually overnight on economy seven. I haven't measured the power used, but it states it is 200W. It doesn't really matter what the power is (within reason) because we use all the heat the energy ends up as. The heat produced is more than the electricity consumed, because by condensing the water in the air, the latent heat of evaporation is returned. A further advantage is that with drier air, the other heating raises the temperature more than would be the case with moist air.

The dehumidifier doesn't keep the bathroom totally condensation free, but it provides a vast improvement. The air quality in the bathroom is really improved too by being not saturated with water.

I'd say one in you mother's kitchen would pay for itself quite quickly, especially if her central heating is on a thermostat and her windows are open in the middle of winter. Depending on the filter in the dehumidifier, it would also get rid of kitchen smells and filter the air quite well.

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Author: ErroneousBee Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140765 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 19/08/2008 12:06
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I just chop the onions and meat up and stick it in the slow cooker

Interesting, Ive always found not sealing/frying off certain ingredients ends up with a bit of a tastless meal. Frying onions in oil causes chemical reaction that get rid of the bitter sulphuric compounds and creates sweeter, more flavoursome compounds. Similarly sealing meat gives it a richer flavour by breaking down proteins and fats.

Slow cookers generally don't reach high enough temperatures to drive off volatile compounds, or supply the energy to break down proteins. Thats why we fry in oil, as it gets above 100degC where some of these reactions take place. Its also why most slow cooker recipes start by frying anything containing protein or bitter compounds.

Perhaps the bromiowhatsit in pineapples supplies an enzyme that does the same work as the frying (acids like tomato may do the same job), or maybe you add so much chilli, pepper and neat capsaicin that you just dont have any taste buds left.

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Author: licoricetwist Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140766 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 19/08/2008 12:57
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Hi - is your slow cooker from Tesco a 3.5 litre or 1.5 litre?

I have a suspicion that it might be something to do with the size, but that's only a hunch. I'm sure the technology is around to control the temperature properly on the small ones, but perhaps they don't bother because mostly no one notices (or they stop using it and put it in a cupboard).

Lakeland do a more controllable one with heat only from the bottom - but of course that uses more energy and also will have greater heat loss as the sides are open.

Thanks.

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Author: MasterOfTheRoles Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140767 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 19/08/2008 13:03
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The ones that I've seen (and I'll admit that it's a long time since I used one) don't seem to have thermostats, but like cheap soldering irons, rely on 'thermal balance' - i.e. they heat up until they reach a temperature at which the heat loss is equal to the heat input. The low setting is provided by a lower powered element or sometimes by just using a diode to cut out every other half-cycle of the mains. Unsurprisingly, the temperature control is not always very good, although perhaps modern ones are better.

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Author: licoricetwist Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140768 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 19/08/2008 13:14
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In simple terms the smaller the volume that you heat, the less surface area it has, the better insulated the compartment is and the lower the temperature difference between inside and out then the less energy you will use. This is true of ovens, slow cookers and houses.


Well, that makes sense. Bigger volumes have greater surface areas. I could easily add insulation to my slow cooker, in a tea cosy/hay box sort of way.

And/Or maybe use a timer to reduce the heat input (as the thermostat is not giving me the temperature I want).

My built-in oven, on the other hand, has a cooling fan in the external housing - which presumably wouldn't be needed if it were well insulated? When I use the bottom oven, I can warm plates in the top oven without turning it on!

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Author: licoricetwist Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140769 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 19/08/2008 13:23
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Interesting, Ive always found not sealing/frying off certain ingredients ends up with a bit of a tastless meal. Frying onions in oil causes chemical reaction that get rid of the bitter sulphuric compounds and creates sweeter, more flavoursome compounds. Similarly sealing meat gives it a richer flavour by breaking down proteins and fats.


Oh yes agreed - browning food gives distinctive extra flavour. And pre-cooking onions is good. However, if you are using cheaper cuts of meat (eg brisket, shin, some kinds of braising steak), exposing it to temperatures above boiling casue the fibres to contract and toughen, which longer cooking won't remedy.

So It's a question of choice, really - better cuts should be browned, and don't really need slow cooking for tenderness but may for convenience. Cheaper cuts will only be tender if kept below boiling.

For things like curry, the flavours are also possibly able to get into the meat better if it isn't browned, in a 'hot marinade' kind of way. But I haven't done a side-by-side test.

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Author: licoricetwist Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140770 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 19/08/2008 13:34
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The ones that I've seen don't seem to have thermostats, but like cheap soldering irons, rely on 'thermal balance' - i.e. they heat up until they reach a temperature at which the heat loss is equal to the heat input.

Oh really! That sounds feasible and would explain it. Consensus so far seems to be that modern ones are often hotter than old ones, which I wouldn't say is 'better'.

So my thought of adding some sort of timer to control it might help... ?

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Author: MasterOfTheRoles Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140771 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 19/08/2008 13:43
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Consensus so far seems to be that modern ones are often hotter than old ones, which I wouldn't say is 'better'.


Perhaps this is because they are designed for a 230V nominal supply voltage, whereas UK mains are actually 240V in general (nominally 230 to be in line with Europe, but the limits were set so that 240 would still be acceptable and we wouldn't have to change the supply voltage).

So my thought of adding some sort of timer to control it might help... ?

If you could find one that would switch on and off frequently enough (say every couple of minutes), then I guess it would. Personally I'd be inclined to use a dimmer-switch, although you'd need some trial and error to determine the right setting...

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Author: licoricetwist Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140772 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 19/08/2008 14:01
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Perhaps this is because they are designed for a 230V nominal supply voltage

Well... I've checked my new one, and indeed it says 230V...

Personally I'd be inclined to use a dimmer-switch, although you'd need some trial and error to determine the right setting...

Interesting idea... I suspect anything I try will be trial-and-error anyway, but that sounds potentially very useful, thanks.

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Author: pancake101 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140773 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 19/08/2008 14:26
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Interesting, Ive always found not sealing/frying off certain ingredients ends up with a bit of a tastless meal. Frying onions in oil causes chemical reaction that get rid of the bitter sulphuric compounds and creates sweeter, more flavoursome compounds. Similarly sealing meat gives it a richer flavour by breaking down proteins and fats.

Slow cookers generally don't reach high enough temperatures to drive off volatile compounds, or supply the energy to break down proteins. Thats why we fry in oil, as it gets above 100degC where some of these reactions take place. Its also why most slow cooker recipes start by frying anything containing protein or bitter compounds.

Perhaps the bromiowhatsit in pineapples supplies an enzyme that does the same work as the frying (acids like tomato may do the same job), or maybe you add so much chilli, pepper and neat capsaicin that you just dont have any taste buds left.


I have cooked both ways many times over the years ...when time is short its the chuck it all in method and the result is as tasty (to my over chillied tastebuds!) as the fry and seal method! Whilst its hard so say one is better than another, I can honestly say I have never had a duff one! Try it and see!

Perhaps a tasting panel could be set up for the next fools social! See if there is a genuine difference between the end results!

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Author: Tortoise1000 Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Favorite Fools Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140774 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 19/08/2008 18:33
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I will be testing this recipe tomorrow, pancake! I have got the ingredients. Sainsburys did not have dried chillis though, so I got two fresh ones, a red and a green. Do you think that would be all right?

By the way, re the increased boilinness of modern slow cookers - I am sure I read somewhere that they started making them hotter for safety. The low setting of the old one was too low if you cooked meat sometimes. Dont know if i have remembered that right. I agree, my new Lakeland one is much hotter than the old Tower. But the Tower had to go after about 25 years, when the plastic casing started to melt

T

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Author: pancake101 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140775 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 19/08/2008 19:09
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But the Tower had to go after about 25 years, when the plastic casing started to melt,

Thats a shame .... my pot was murdered! Put on the HOB (to seal the meat if anyone is interested!!) by an inept ex boyfriend! They do not survive that! Nor did he but that is another story...

Between us we could have had a working tower slow cooker!

I have used fresh chillis in the past, so sure its fine! Also used chilli flakes as well.

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Author: superF00Lish Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140776 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 19/08/2008 19:11
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Have I missed something? This thread has been running for three consecutive days without any other threads appearing in the meantime!

Is this is a record?

SF

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Author: licoricetwist Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140844 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 22/08/2008 13:26
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MasterOfTheRoles said:

Personally I'd be inclined to use a dimmer-switch, although you'd need some trial and error to determine the right setting...

Thankyou, MasterOfTheRoles, for a brilliant idea! My other half happened to have a dimmer switch in his electrical bits box. It works a treat with very little trial-and-error. At 2/3rds power, it is cooking away nicely at an ideal 82C (measured), which gives me some flexibility above that when needed.

Wonderful. I can stop shopping now!

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Author: licoricetwist Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140847 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 22/08/2008 13:48
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When I do curry, it's something like this:

1 lb cubed meat (lamb or beef) trimmed of fat
2-3 Tbs (or so) Patak's curry paste (madras or rogan josh)*
some crushed or pureed garlic (1-2 tsp)
1 Tbs tomato puree
1 Tbs ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp aniseed, crushed (if you can get it)
2-3 cardamon pods, cracked (or take the seeds out and crush them)
1 medium onion, diced
2 stock cubes, crumbled
2 oz stock or water
4-6 oz mushrooms, sliced (or tinned, if preferred)

I sometimes pre-cook the onions, puree and spice in a little oil. Then stir everything together and cook at about 85 degress for 7-8 hours.

Should seem fairly dry - plenty of moisture will come out of the meat as it cooks, and ideally you want to avoid thickening with flour as it takes away some of the flavour (but not the heat).


* NB - how much curry past depends on how hot the paste is and your own preferences. I use this amount with a hot madras paste, which gets a result of on-the-hot-side-of-medium. If I have a medium paste, it might take 1/4 jar.

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Author: MasterOfTheRoles Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140848 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 22/08/2008 14:53
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Glad the dimmer switch does the job so well!

MoTR

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Author: zephyros One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140852 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 22/08/2008 20:19
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Last week I decided to experiment with the slow cooker and beetroot. The local farm sells them at 30p regardless of size, so I went for the big ones. Two at just under 1lb, and a third (yet to be cooked) at a whopping 1lb 6oz. Much to my surprise, the smaller ones cooked in under five hours, and the Lidl meter showed the electricity consumption at just over 0.5 kw, or about 5p. On High it used 196 watts, and on Low, 116 watts. So it won't cost more than a fiver for the whole year even if used twice a week. I can't believe the oven will match that, but if it does, who cares ;)

Also, today was the chili cooking session which happens once every few weeks. Unfortunately there weren't enough kidney beans to soak last night and I had to resort to chick peas in their place, so it was 40% kidney beans and 60% chick peas. It's just finished cooking, and it seems to taste better than ever!

As for the temperature, it bubbles a little on Low, but no more than that, and I think that is how it is meant to operate. It's a Haden 3 litre from Robert Dyas.

- zeph

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Author: licoricetwist Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140951 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 25/08/2008 21:40
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Thanks, zeph. From what I hear around, it seems the 3lt ones (and larger) cook as they are meant to. Only the small, modern ones seem to have a problem - and that seems to be fixable with a dimmer switch (we'll put an inline one on, for neatness & portability).

Last week I decided to experiment with the slow cooker and beetroot.

Interesting idea with the beetroot - I'll try that. :-)

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Author: ahenry Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 140983 of 175177
Subject: Re: Slow cookers Date: 26/08/2008 22:14
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(apologies for the delay - I just got back from holiday)

Unless you're my mum, who insists that the kitchen windows be fully opened while cooking to let the steam out, even in the middle of winter.

Then she wonders why her heating bills are so high (and house so cold).

I've tried to convince her she would probably save money (in winter) by shutting the windows and buying a de-humidifier. I'm pretty sure the costs of running such a unit would be less than the cost of the energy she's wasting with the windows open, although I don't have any numbers to back that up (but the same argument would surely apply, that any energy used by the dehumidifier would just disipate into the room, thereby offseting the heating cost, albeit the heat would come from electricity instead of the (cheaper) gas central heating).


A dehumidifier will also work, but its a lot cheaper and simpler to fix the cause of the problem, rather than the symptoms.

Its a good idea to reduce the amount of water vapour that gets into the house when you are cooking. You can do this in a variety of ways. First is to avoid boiling things for a long period. If you want to steam something, use a microwave or a pressure cooker. They cook much faster, and will produce a lot less water vapour. Use close-fitting lids on pans. An extractor hood over the cooker which has a vent to outside, and possible an additional extractor fan. You can get fans which only come on once the humidity is high. Its then a good idea to shut the door(s) between the kitchen and the rest of the house.


I once spent a weekend in a cottage in Wales. The only heating was from a wood-burning stove, and it had a broken flue. If the front door of the cottage was shut, then the house was warm, but it filled with smoke. If you opened the front door, then the fumes went up the chimney, but you lost all the heat. In the end someone repaired the flue using a large baked bean tin and a load of paste for fixing a car exhaust. It stopped being either frozen or kippered.

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