Slow cookers are a great way to make dinner time easy. Recipes exist to turn almost any dish into a slow cooker dish. You can put everything into one pot in the morning, and return that evening to have your stew, soup, casserole, or pot roast ready to enjoy. One pot means there is less to clean up. If you have a large family, you may need a larger capacity slow cooker. The Calpahlon 7-Quart Digital Slow Cooker is extra large, and has some additional functions that make it a great choice. Among slow cookers, the price is mid-level to high, and may be more expensive than many cooks need or prefer.
One problem I always had with my old-fashioned Crock-Pot brand slow cooker is that it had mechanical settings, low, and high. Most dishes started on high, need to be switched to low at some point, whether to finish the cooking at a lower temperature, or just to keep the food warm. 7-Quart Digital Slow Cooker from Calphalon has an intelligent 24-hour digital timer which automatically switches to a warming mode at the end of the programmed cooking cycle. There is also an auto-setting that cooks your food on high for 2 hours, and then automatically switches to low to finish the cooking. The “Opti-Heat” system delivers accurate temperature and even cooking. However, it does not have a delayed-start option, meaning that you cannot program it to start cooking sometime in the future.
Big LCD Digital Display
Calphalon makes a big deal of the large LCD display on the side of the unit, located at the bottom. It can be read at a distance, so it is easy to read from across the kitchen. Not having to walk across your kitchen to look at a digital timer is hardly a reason to buy a cooker, especially one at a higher price range than most choose.
Stay-Cool Exterior and Dishwasher Safe
The unit is only hot on the inside. Great for summer days when you don’t want a slow-cooker adding heat to your already hot kitchen, and when you don’t want to accidentally burn your fingers on a too-hot slow cooker. However, it does not have a locking lid feature and is probably too large to carry around, meaning it may not be a great choice for pot-lucks.
Something you won’t have in your old clunky slow-cooker is the ability to put the unit in the dishwasher. Cleaning is a pain when you cannot “submerge the cooker in water.” It couldn’t be easier with this unit since you can just place the ceramic pot in the dishwasher and clean it with all the other dishes and pans, something that as pleased Amazon reviewers.
Although the ability to cook large amounts of food is great for a big busy family, or to someone who loves to freeze leftovers, the unit does take up quite a bit of space. If your counter space or storage space is at a premium, you may want to opt for a smaller unit.
The other big problem is that the unit has been discontinued. Although this means you can get this high-end unit at a cheaper price, if something were to go wrong (and things sometimes go wrong with any appliance), Calphalan no longer makes replacement parts. Some Amazon reviewers have stated that their pots have cracked, and one even received a full refund after the heating element melted through the inside of the cooker! Although the features of this unit are nice, you can find similar features on other units that are not discontinued, perhaps even for a cheaper price.
It seems that while some found the unit to work great, others found that it only worked great for a little while, and then suffered catastrophic failures. Quality control may have been an issue, and this may be why this particular unit was discontinued. Keep in mind that most slow cookers work for years and years. The digital controls have been reported to malfunction by some buyers, and as great as digital controls on anything are, you will find that they do tend to break from time to time.
Should you buy it?
At this time, due to the product having been discontinued, and quality, not to mention customer service, being spotty, I cannot recommend the Calphalon Digital Slow Cooker. The features, however, are great, and you may want to look around for slow cookers with similar functions. Although a large unit like this may seem ideal, with all the appliances and other items competing for space in the typical kitchen, this unit may be a bit too large for most. Even though the price is mid-level, a lower-capacity cooker with a lower price point, but a proven track record, such as Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget Programmable 6 Quart model, would make for a good entry-level unit. It has some good features of its own, including a temperature probe for meat, and both manual and programmable cooking. What’s more, it has a locking lid, making it transportable.
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