20 November 2006

Use a light timer with your slow cooker

Amazon: Crock-Pot 64451LD-C 6-1/2-Quart Slow Cooker with Bonus Little Dipper Slow Cooker, Stainless SteelKristi adds to the labor-saving loveliness of the slow cooker:

This may not be an original trick and probably not necessary with some of the new crock pots out there, but I’m proud of thinking this up without having read about it somewhere.

We have a nice crock pot that doesn’t have a timer (do they come with them yet?  I haven’t shopped for one in a long while) on it so we thought, why not hook it to one of those light timers we use at Christmastime?  A lot of recipes call for a 6-hour cook time, but most of us work at least 8 hours.  Why not use the timer to delay the start of cooking?  I haven’t tried it yet, but intend to unless someone persuades me it’s a bad idea.

More: Crock pot hacks

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Quick comment. There are crockpots with timers out there.

I've used this hack to make steel cut oatmeal for breakfast.

I think this is a great idea. My husband used to set up his coffee pot to start brewing in the morning by using one of these.

To avoid food poisoning, I'd only use this hack for recipes that don't contain meat.

A lamp/appliance timer works great with a crockpot. Actually it works better than the new crock pots that have timers since with those you can only specify with the duration or when to stop (i.e. off after 6 hrs) but not when to start. They makers are probably concerned about delayed start and safety of the unrefrigerated food.

Just make sure the timer has a wattage rating greater than the crock pot. I would think crock pots draw 1000-1500 watts, and I've seen lamp timers only rated at 300-600 watts. I'm pretty sure you can get ones rated higher, but you need to be careful. There's a fire hazard here if you overload the timer.

I've been doing this for a long time with a light timer from the hardware store. To make it safer I combine the ingredients the night before and refrigerate in the crockpot insert. This will keep the food cool enough until the unit turns on a couple of hours later.

If you're worried about wattage compatability, the Rival Corporation (who manufacture many a crock-pot) sell an after-market timer for crockpots without them onboard.

They're pretty reasonably priced at $12.50 (Amazon): http://www.amazon.com/Rival-327298-SP100-Smart-Part-Module/dp/B00006IUYQ/sr=8-2/qid=1164057349/ref=pd_bbs_2/103-9208529-0113460?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden
[NOTE: If you decide to buy one, please use one of Asha's Amazon links- rather than this one and support Parent Hacks]

I bought one for my parents a few years ago. They were going through a short-lived soup phase. it worked well for them, but has since been lost into a drawer or other kitchen crevice (with their love for soup).

I found them at a Meijer (Midwestern big box retailer) for a similar price as Amazon's.

My husband uses the delayed timer function on our wall oven in a similar fashion. To allay the food poisoning dangers, he puts a couple of pints of ice cubes in the dutch oven, which not only keeps the food cold, but also adds the water needed in cooking.

Mike: My 5-quart Rival crockpot is rated at 185 watts at the low setting, 220-ish at the high setting, well within the safety range for a light timer.

Re: Food poisoning, you could prepare the food the night before and stick the whole pot in the refrigerator. This will make it nice and cold, until it is time for it to start cooking. Also there are meals that you cook the meat ahead of time. For example chili you brown the meat ahead of time.

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