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I have a crock pot that will generate a low boil on the "Low" setting and dries out anything that is cooked for a long period. I'm wondering if the temperature regulator is too high, but I can't know that unless I know what the temperature is supposed to be.

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Temperature of what? The liquid inside won't go past the boiling point. What really matters is the power, which determines how much water it's able to boil away in a given amount of time. –  Jefromi Nov 10 '11 at 2:46
    
@Jefromi, good point! I suppose I could fill it with oil to take a temperature, but that doesn't seem productive. Do you have any alternate measuring techniques? –  Mark Ransom Nov 10 '11 at 3:06
    
@Jefromi Should a slow cooker boil at all? Would it negate the "slow" aspect if it did? –  event_jr Feb 2 '13 at 14:23
    
@event_jr Yes, slow cookers boil, just not too vigorously. –  Jefromi Feb 2 '13 at 16:23
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1 Answer

I, like you, assumed that a slow cooker would have a temperature regulator. I took mine apart, in a bid to find the thermostat and adjust it -- and discovered that it does not have one.

Cheap slow cookers contain an heating element which delivers a constant low heat, and all you can do is choose between two or three levels of power. It does not stop supplying that heat when the contents reach a particular temperature. It just keeps pumping that heat into your food.

This means that -- as long as less heat is lost out of the cooker walls/lid than the element is putting in, the contents will keep getting hotter until they reach boiling point, whereupon the energy will instead go into turning liquid into steam.

I don't know whether more expensive slow cookers have a proper thermostat. It would be good to know.

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This is pretty much the answer. As far as I know, no slow cookers have "proper" thermostats; they don't need them. In this context, with respect to the OP's question, well, if it's boiling dry with a reasonable quantity of liquid and the lid on, it's too hot or the lid doesn't fit well enough. Perhaps you could edit your answer to include something along those lines; otherwise I might do it for you. (No reason to split the good stuff into two answers.) –  Jefromi Feb 2 '13 at 16:52
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