on February 5, 2009
First, I have to tell you I am a 73 yr. young widower. I finally got tired of quick meals, TV meals, eating out, etc. Soo, I finally decided that it was time I grew up and started learning how to cook.
I did a lot of research on slow cooker's and decided on the Hamilton Beach 33967. I let it set on the counter for a week before I decided to either send it back or, try it.
My first attempt was a pot roast with potatos, carrots and celery. Followed the recipie except added/subtracted sesonings that sounded good to me.
Much to my surprise, I had a VERY! tender roast with great veggies. Made enough to have a meal and freeze rest for several meals. (Wrong). I had it for supper, lunch and dinner the next day and lunch the third day.
Pot performed great and meat came out tender as butter.
I've owned this slow cooker for about 4 months now. I've used it about 12 times. Had I reviewed this a couple months ago, it would have been a glowing 5 star review. However, due to what's happened this very evening, I no longer have such confidence it this item.
Today is probably about the 12th or so time I've used this. I'm making pot roast, which I've made MANY times before, in this very slow cooker. I have it plugged into the same outlet on my kitchen counter that I ALWAYS plug it into. At 10:30 this morning I set it to cook for 9 hours on low. I set it the same way I always do, yet today, the machine randomly shut itself off. When? I have no clue! About 2:30pm I went out there to get a drink, happened to glance at the cooker and saw it was completely off! What the $@?! So...I set it AGAIN, this time for 6 hours on low. Just went out to the kitchen (it's now 6:30pm) and it was AGAIN shut off!!
Before purchasing this, I came here to Amazon and read all the reviews. I saw the reviews where people said theirs had shut off while cooking, but there were SO MANY positive reviews that I figured maybe they just had faulty units. I REALLY wish I had listened. I'm a stay at home mom, so on days I decide to use this, I have the luxury of being able to periodically make sure the cooker is still on (something I should NOT have to do!!!), however for those who set this then leave for work, they have to just HOPE the thing stays on. Well folks, hope isn't gonna cook your dinner. I say STAY AWAY! This thing worked beautifully for 4 months, then all of a sudden decided to crap out on me. Not sure why, but for the cost, I expected to get MUCH more then 4 months of use. VERY disappointing.
on October 21, 2010
I purchased this cooker to replace a Kenmore I had that cooked everything way too hot. I hesitated on buying this one, though, because a couple of reviews said it takes too long to reach a safe temperature. I decided to buy it anyway and do some of my own tests. I figured that if the reviews were correct, I could always start cooking on high and then turn down after the first couple of hours. Since I was replacing a cooker that cooks too hot, I didn't want to end up buying another cooker with the same problem.
As some other reviewers have said, this cooker is advertised as a six-quart model, but really can only comfortably hold five quarts. I suppose you could squeeze an extra quart into it but you'd probably end up with a mess afterward. In all fairness, though, my older cooker (also advertised as a six quart model) also really only holds five quarts unless you push it. I'm sure all manufacturers overestimate the capacity of their cookers in pretty much the same way.
I did a lot of research on slow cooker safety when I got this product. Some sources are a lot stricter about temperature than others. At the most extreme, experts say a slow cooker should get to 160 degrees in less than two hours (160 degrees is the temperature necessary to kill Salmonella). At the other extreme, experts say a slow cooker needs to get to 125 degrees in less than three hours (125 degrees is the temperature needed to kill Staphylococcus). This is probably a good place to note that Salmonella can't cause illness if it's dead, so as long as you cook to 160 degrees you won't get sick even if Salmonella is present. Staphylococcus, on the other hand, produces a toxin as it multiplies, and that toxin isn't destroyed with cooking--so if Staphylococcus is present and is given enough time to grow, you'll get sick no matter how hot or how long you cook your food. Ideally, you want your cooker to reach a temperature that destroys Staphylococcus as quickly as possible.
As soon as I got this cooker I did some tests as recommended by some of these slow cooker safety websites.
The first site told me to put two quarts of water in the cooker and see how long it takes to reach 160 degrees. With just two quarts of room temperature water, the cooker reached 160 in well under two hours. With five quarts, however (maximum capacity), it took two hours and 45 minutes. Now, I have no idea why this website said to use two quarts instead of, say, three. Does that mean that this cooker isn't safe to use with more than two quarts of liquid? At any rate, it did pass the test and the website in question was one of the stricter in terms of how fast a cooker should heat up. On high it took 1 hour and 45 minutes for five quarts to reach 160, so if you are particularly concerned you can always cook on high for the first two hours, then reduce to low.
Two quarts of room temperature liquid got to 125 degrees, at the other end of the spectrum, in less than an hour. So this cooker passes that test, too. Five quarts took slightly less than two hours, still well within the recommended three hour range.
Interesting to note that these same websites also say not to cook roasts or whole chickens in any slow cooker, regardless of how fast it heats up ... which is news to me. Isn't cooking a pot roast nine tenths of the reason why most people buy a slow cooker?
I hope this is enough information for shoppers to make an informed decision on whether or not they feel this cooker is safe to use. In my opinion, if people were getting sick from this product it probably would have been pulled off the market by now, but that's just one person's feeling on the subject. Please also note that I am not a food safety expert, and you should in no way take anything I've said in this review as my personal endorsement that this cooker is safe, because I could be completely wrong. This is only my own, uneducated opinion.
As far as effectiveness of the cooker goes, like I said, I bought mine to replace a Kenmore that burned everything if I left it on low for more than four hours. The first thing I tried to cook in this Hamilton Beach was a pot roast (against safety advice apparently). At 8am I set it up to with the temperature probe, and when I got home at 1pm it was already on warm. I could have turned off the pot and put the roast in the fridge to reheat later, but I wanted to see how it would do if I left it all day. So I left it on warm, and when I took it out (nine hours after it went in) it still looked pretty good. My old cooker blackened everything and turned it into jerky when left that long (even on warm), but this roast still looked totally edible. When I cut into it it did seem a bit dry, but it was definitely tender and wasn't even falling to pieces, which is what meat left in a crockpot for a long time will often do. So while this is far from a perfect result, it's a huge improvement over my old cooker. If I'd taken the roast out a lot earlier I think it would have been close to perfect. I feel like I can pretty confidently give this cooker four stars; I'd like to have something that can run all day and still produce a juicy roast, but the modern obsession with cooking everything really hot in order to kill bacteria makes it pretty unlikely that these days you could find a cooker that would do that.
I haven't had this model long enough to know if it will suffer from some of the shut-off problems other reviewers have complained about. I did make sure to mail in my warranty card, just in case. If I do experience this problem, I'll post an update.
UPDATE: May 3, 2012 - I've had this cooker for about a year and a half now. I use it once a week and still haven't experienced any trouble with mine, though it looks like some people continue to have the random shut-off issue with theirs. I'm guessing it's a common problem with a small percentage of these cookers, but since I've never had the problem I can still recommend this machine--just make sure to send in your warranty card in case you get one of the lemons.
SECOND UPDATE: August 20, 2014 - I've still got my pot, and I'm now using it two times a week. I've never had it randomly shut off and I've owned it for nearly four years. At this point, I would actually be OK with it failing because I feel like I've got more than my money's worth out of it--tons of great food, nothing really gets overcooked and it still works exactly as well as it did when I got it.
on November 14, 2009
I bought this slow cooker back in January in spite of the the bad reviews. Why? It seemed there were far more people who were very happy with it. I was very happy for nine months. The programmable features were great. I loved that it switched itself over to warm, which made it very convenient. Then one day I came home, and the slow cooker was completely cold and dinner was ruined. I thought maybe I'd forgotten to set it. It worked fine the next few times I used it, then it happened again. It worked a few more times, then it stopped working completely. My last crockpot, though not as flashy, lasted for over 8 years. An appliance that can't make it a year is just not worth bothering with.
on January 14, 2009
In the past I've had issues with slow cookers running too hot so I decided to test my new HB cooker. I filled the 6 qt unit with 5 qt water and set the unit on WARM for 4 hours, then tested the water temp - 170 degrees. 4 hours later at LOW - temp was 170 degrees, 4 hours later at HIGH - temp was 210 degrees. I guess this is OK. I emailed the mfr for the design temps but received no resopnse.
The rubber feet on the unit did a good job of keeping the unit from sliding around on my granite counter. I've had slow cookers you had to stir with one hand while holding it in place with the other.
I really appreciate the plastic handle on the glass lid. It's so nice to pick up the lid without burning my fingers if I forget to use a potholder!
The WARM setting is very useful - possibly more useful than one might initially imagine.
The "manual" for this appliance includes English, French, and Spanish versions. This is probably why there wasn't any room left for many recipes. We are referred to the company's website but again there weren't many for the slow cooker. I would think after all the years Hamilton Beach has been manufacturing slow cookers they would have accumulated more than they display.
The electronic control panel is typically a modern day blessing/curse. Instead of a simple knob one can turn to a setting, one must push buttons in a specific sequence in order to get the cooker to work. Vary the sequence or skip oe of the steps and you're SOL. The tricky thing about this is sometimes the unit tells you when you screwed up and sometimes it doesn't, thereby enabling you to leave the house expecting the slow cooker to do its job only to return several hours later expecting to find a hot meal waiting for you, only to discover the unit didn't like the way you pushed its buttons so it turned itself off. Don't laugh - this happened to me and it wasn't the least bit funny. If someone uses their slow cooker infrequently, it would be easy to make a mistake while setting the unit. A frequent user will quickly get the hang of it and should be able to avoid any inconvenience - provided they pay attention to what they're doing.
Another problem with the programable feature is if your electricity is interrupted for more than 5 seconds the unit loses its settings and turns itself off. Then the unit sits there waiting for you, probably while growing salmonella. I can't help but recall all the times I've come home to find all the clocks on my electronic equipment flashing because the power went off for a few minutes.
While the programable feature is irritating and problematic, the most dangerous feature on the slow cooker is the stainless steel clip system used to lock the lid in place during transit. For some ridiculous reason, the clips cannot be moved out of the area between the crock and the handle on the base. Attempting to lift the hot crock out of the base while not getting your potholders tangled in the wire clip is nearly impossible, making this an extremely dangerous thing to attempt. I don't think Hamilton Beach would have gone bankrupt if they had made the handles another 1/4" or so longer so the clips could safely drop out of the way.