Slow cookers

Talking about slow cookers, I’ve been looking at some modern ones on the Argos website. The odd thing is they seem to use more electricity than the Tower models from quarter of a century ago.

In the mid-1980’s Tower had three models and they had the following power ratings:

Auto: 100w-140w
Carefree: 70w-90w
Compact: 55w (I have this one)

The marketing of these centred around the fact that they used about the same amount of energy as a light bulb (100 watts).

Still going strong after almost 25 years: Tower Compact slow cooker from Woolworths

Still going strong after nearly 25 years (and doing a chicken stew): Tower Compact slow cooker

Compare those vintage models to the modern day Morphy Richards slow cooker, which is rated at 330 watts. Or the Russell Hobbs at 160 watts.

The stainless steel Cookworks is rated at 160w-190w (and a real bargain at just £9.98 currently).

Do these slow cookers consume energy the whole time? Or does a thermostat turn them on and off occasionally to maintain the temperature? If so, the wattage given is a maximum and doesn’t tell the whole story. My 25-year-old 55 watt compact model seems to stay on permanently.

You might expect slow cookers to be even more energy efficient these days but it looks as if that may not be the case. I wonder if it’s because most modern-day slow cookers have a glass lid rather than the ceramic lids that are to be found on the old Tower models? Style over function and efficiency?

By the way, if you like stews and casseroles and haven’t tried this method of cooking, you are missing a treat. Cheaper cuts of meat turn out succulent and, whichever slow cooker you choose, it will use much less electricity than a standard oven, which may be rated at something like 2,500 watts.

UPDATE (Feb 2016): INSTRUCTION BOOK

Many people have asked how to use these Tower slow cookers. I’ve now been able to scan my copy of the instruction book which covers the Auto, Carefree and Compact models which were made in the 1980s. The book has lots of recipes. Unfortunately as you’ll see it suffered quite a bit of water damage at some point over the last 30 years. But plenty is still visible, so hopefully it will be better that nothing. You can download it here (12Mb PDF):

Instruction book for Tower Auto, Carefree and Compact slow cookers

 

51 Comments

  • Mary Lee says:

    Interesting. I have the Tower 2 litre version which was given to me as an engagement present 28 years ago. It has been used a lot over the years but more recently simply for steaming the Xmas pudding. However, with a revival in the concept of slow cooking along with energy saving I have started reusing it on a more regular basis. However, as the pot is badly crazed and it be good to have a larger capacity pot, I have been looking at buying a replacement. The joy of having a removable pot would be also be a great plus. The temperature issue is however an interesting one and seems to be where most criticism lies. Most comments are on how they actually burn the food, something these antique ones don’t. However,on the minus side, I always found that, if using the low setting, casseroles always seemed to have a rather unpleasant greasy taste which would be countered by using a higher temperature. Based on the comments I am reading I think I shall carry on with my antique until it does finally pack up unless I can replace it with something comparable. Also why are so many oval? Try cooking a large Xmas pudding in that shape!

  • GS says:

    g7uk.com writes: Since I wrote this entry I’ve bought the Cookworks slow cooker from Argos that I mentioned. The larger capacity makes sense because I can freeze half or cater for several friends. You’re right, the removable pot is more convenient — especially for washing up. Also I’m finding the glass lid useful for seeing what’s happening in there. So far I’ve done chicken and leek soup and two different stews with beef and have been very happy with the results (both on low setting). I suppose the oval shape makes storage easier but not so good for Xmas puds!

  • Trev says:

    Yes we have an old Tower slow cooker (nearly 30 years old), with two heat settings, rated at 80 and 120W (if I remember correctly). While it does not have a removable pan it is very efficient and excellent for cooking casseroles and stews plus a range of other things. While the glaze is now somewhatcrazed it is intact and still perfectly usable. I can’t see the point in having a higher power rating, unless the volume to be cooked is significantly greater (which some of the modern ones are). However, I don’t see the point in saving energy by slow cooking larger amounts only to then freeze half of it – freezers use a lot of energy! I’m sure you’d be better off with a smaller capacity cooker and not freezing. However, if you are trying to save prep time then I can see the point.

  • Christine says:

    I have broke the ceremic lid on my Tower slow cooker (approx. 27 years old, dont know the model but its not the compact version and it has high and low temperature settings). Do you know where I can get a replacement? Thanks.

  • My partner broke the lid of our Tower slow cooker last night. It is a vintage tower approx 28 years old and like Christine’s ,it’s a large ceramic lift out pot If anyone does know where I can find a repacemetn lid I would also be very pleased to buy one .
    As I don’t know how I will survive with out it.
    Alison – Hampshire

  • GS says:

    g7uk.com replies: You can’t see in the photo above but I actually broke the lid of mine some time ago. I glued it with super glue and it still works absolutely fine.

    That may be your only option as I reckon replacement parts won’t be available from Tower after all this time. But who knows?

    Tower is a brand name used by Salton Europe. You can contact them via their website:

    http://www.saltoneurope.com

    Let me know if you do get a lid!

  • Robin Lambert says:

    Have been handed down a Tower Slow Cooker, which sounds like the one described in the first article: compact 50 watt x 240 volts, 1.5 litre, 2.64 pints. The model number is 3872-B. It also has marked T1. There is just one problem, no instructions, as how to use it. Any help or advice would be most useful.

  • An Veenman says:

    I bought a Tower slo cooker on Ebay but the stoneware pot was broken during transport from England to the Netherlands because it wasn’t packed well enough.

    Now I’m looking for a pot only, 2,5 ltr.

    Can anyone help me please?

    Thank you very much in advance

    Kind regards,
    An Veenman

  • alan says:

    Re broken lid
    If you measure the diameter of lid required and browse kitchen shops with the measurement , any ceramic or glass lid will do the job. Your not looking for an airtight seal its not a pressure cooker

  • AM says:

    blimey, my mum has just given me the very model of slow cooker in the picture. I’ve been trawling the internet for recipes. I think the first time i use it, i will need to babysit it, incase its faulty after all these years. I have to say, it doesnt co-ordinate with my kitchen………….

  • Jax says:

    I have had the Tower family-de-luxe model for 20 odd years and love it, however, last night my son dropped the lid – I felt like crying Have tried a pan lid this evening but it does not fit tightly enough. May have to buy a new one but will bear in mind energy ratings as I’ve always thought of them as energy efficient.

  • Russell says:

    Need a replacement indicator bulb for my Tower Slow Cooker Model 2917.
    Any idea as to where I might obtain one?

  • Julie Fox says:

    I have a tower slow cooker A(but the family size one not the compact one and my flat mate has just broken the ceramic pot but the lid is ok. Does anyone know where I could get a replacement as I can’t live without my slo cooker?

  • Christopher Holdoway says:

    Hello.. .. I need the instruction book for the older Tower Compact Slow Cooker, been given one but no book so please help..
    thank you regards Christopher
    reply to..
    ukbizzybee@aol.com

    other information
    T1 Tower Compact Slow Cooker. 50 watt x 240 volts, 1.5 litre, 2.64 pints. The model
    number is 3872-B.

    This the all in one unit no removable pot.

  • pat ferris says:

    I have had my tower slow cooker for 26 years and wouldn’t be without it. I recently bought my daughter a slow cooker but sadly it isn’t a patch on my old one. Does anyone know if you can still buy the old models or is it a beauty of the past.

    Many thanks

  • Mags says:

    Hi, can anyone tell me what temperature a tower slow cooker cooks at on low. I own a really old one, a tower model 2917. I have read that cooking meat at less than 100 degrees farenheitkills enzymes so hope that the slow cooker will be the answer.
    Thanks Mags

  • Wendy says:

    Hi I have an old Tower Slow Cooker, with Low & High settings. I have no instructions, and can’t remember which way the button should be to cook on high, can anyone help?

  • Joice Williams says:

    On mine, which is an antique auto with three settings I’ve had for 30 years or more, the bottom setting is the high, middle is low and top is auto. The lid’s been cracked for years, so I’ll be interested if anyone’s found out how to get a replacement.

  • GS says:

    g7uk.com in reply to Joice:
    I doubt you’ll get hold of a new replacement lid on such an old slow cooker. Though you may be able to find one at a jumble sale or charity shop (perhaps a complete unit).

    I broke the ceramic lid of my mid-1980’s Tower slow cooker, glued it back together using super glue, and it works just the same.

  • SarahR says:

    Hi I have a tower compact model 3872 that I am just about to put on freegle – if any of you ‘lid hunters’ above want it, it’s going begging

  • Anne Ellis says:

    I have just put my Tower Family-de-Luxe Slo-Cooer Model 4405 on an electric ring and melted the outer plastic casing! It was a wedding present from 25 Years ago. If anyone has a similar model they don’t want anymore I would love to purchase. Please please contact

  • clifford says:

    been using tower auto slow cooker without instructions.would like to know differences/benefits of the 3 settings; low auto and high.read on this site low can give greasy taste? also how does auto cook? anyone know where i can read manual on line? thanks

  • Paula says:

    Its easy to replace a lid for the antique cook pots. Use a lid off a pyrex dish. Works perfectly.

    My problem is my crock pot has now cracked and I have been searching ebay for a replacement. I most certainly do not want a modern one that can use up to 700 watts when mine only used 140 watts.

    Another antique is fine by me!

  • Sue says:

    I too have the compact Tower Slow Cooker and after 25years have just broken the lid but not able to glue it as it smashed in too many places.

    Can I but a replacement?

  • Beazer says:

    does anyone have the answer to no.17 regarding the temperature switch which is the high setting I or II

  • Jenny says:

    I have inherited an unused Tower family-de-luxe slo-cooker model 4405, complete with box and recipe book, but no lead! Does anyone know where I could get a replacement lead after all this time?

  • Lesley says:

    I’ve only just seen your comment, you may have sorted out a lead, but I have the same model, the cable is the same as the old cables for corded kettles and also some old computer cables, you may be able to get a lead in an electrical or hardware type shop.

  • Chaz says:

    I was given a Tower Slow Cooker and now have 3 different sizes and makes.
    The Tower one has a rocker switch and I can never work out if pushing it IN at the top means it’s on the top setting (can’t remember which way round they are) or if I need to have the switch OUT at the top for that setting… Help?
    My lid has also been glued and is fine but for those who are after a lid and are in the UK, buy a copy of the Lady magazine if you’re stuck – they have a ‘crockery finding’ service and just may have a supplier who can help with slow cooker lids

  • SteveE says:

    To answer #17 and #25, I had the same problem, then managed to find my old manual and recipe guide! The slow-cooker is on HIGH when the BOTTOM of the switch is pushed in – the white dot showing on my 2917D. It’s on LOW in the MIDDLE and on AUTO with the top pushed in – no dot showing. Simples!

  • JD says:

    I too have a very old Tower Family Slo cooker with just two settings on the rocker switch – High and Low. The switch sits horizontally on the base not vertically as the auto/high/low switch appears to be from the descriptions above (top/bottom used in above comments whereas mine is left/right). I also cannot tell whether the rocker switch pressed down is high or low but the bulb lights up in the section of the switch that is not pressed down.

  • andferdav says:

    I was looking on here trying to find what temperature low & high are equivalent to – saw a couple of unanswered questions. The found this on wiki.answers.com, it doesn’t help with the ‘auto’ but I’m guessing that it starts high then automatically turns to low after a while.

    Quote
    “What temperature does a slow cooker cook at?

    If you have a slow cooker, you have probably wondered what temperature the low and high settings actually are, since few slow cookers actually tell you on the dial or even in the manual. And some are definitely fussy about ensuring food is thoroughly cooked in order to avoid food illnesses.

    Slow cookers, and their accompanying recipes generally come with two settings. The low setting is actually 200F. The high setting is 300F. Both of these temperatures are suitable for cooking raw meat when cooked for the length of time the recipe recommends.

    Some slow cookers also have a warm setting, this setting should only be used after the main meal has been cooked and you are keeping it warm a short time before dinner is served.”

    200F seems to be 93.5ish degrees C and 300F is 149ish C.

    Hope this help someone!

  • andferdav says:

    Re temperatures.

    I’ve just found this on answers.yahoo.com the above temperatures are for NEWER slow cookers!

    Quote
    “… typical older slow cookers operated at 175 F on low and 195 F on high, whereas the newer slow cookers operate on at least 200 F on low, and 300 on high. That results in many foods being more easily dried out because of the higher heat in general and also the longer cooking times still suggested in recipes from books and online (passed down from use with older slow cookers).”

    175F is 79.5C and 195F is 90.5
    It seems manufacturers raised the cooking temperatures as lots of people were putting frozen meat into the slow cooker.

  • Debbie Parsons says:

    I have a tower compact and I was wondering if any ones if u can take the pot out n put it in the oven as I sometimes misjudge how long things will take in it. (No longer have instructions so often have to guess)

  • Paul says:

    Regarding comment #12 from Russell, my mother has a Tower Slow cooker model 2917C this also needs a replacement bulb, she has a newer Morphy Richards one but prefers the old Tower slow cooker so if anyone knows of any replacement bulbs that we could obtain please reply.

  • Pam Gruber says:

    Sounds as though Tower ought to get their act together and put us all out of our misery! BRING BACK THE OLD TOWER COOK POT! PLEASE!

  • Al says:

    I just bought a similar Tower slow cooker on a whim on ebay because it was available for pick up near where I live, it hasn’t been used (the plug hasn’t even been wired) and it comes in the original packaging with instructions. The base of the box has been datestamped July 1981 I’m looking forward to giving this baby it’s maiden voyage on the weekend after 33 years!

  • Annie says:

    I have one of the old Tower ceramic slow cookers which lay forgotten in a cupboard for years, hardly used. I have recently started to use it but have only just learned that some ceramic slow cookers can leach lead into the food. Does anyone have any information on this regarding the Tower slow cooker?

  • gor says:

    i had a tower compact until a few years ago when for no reason it became a cracked pot during a partic cold snap of weather. i saw an identical one at a car boot, got it for about &2 then promptly dropped the poor thing.
    as for removing the dish as someone asked above , i seem to remember the instructions say its fixed in, so perhaps not play around with old electrical equipment.

  • mo says:

    I have an old Tower slow cooker Model 2439/9 It’s brown ceramic and their is no inner dish it has a vertical rocker switch on the side HELP I don’t know what it means I have no manual PLEASE someone must have the answer. Please email me. Please answer my plea if you answer successfully I will cook a meal and invite you to share.

  • doreen says:

    does anyone have a spare or unused tower inner for the model 2917 the crockpot measures 29.5cm across. I am gutted as without thinking one night I poured hot water into it and it cracked. I live in New Zealand and are willing to pay postage, I brought it back home to New Zealand when I lived in England 32 years ago. mind have the 3 settings, auto low and high. hope someone can help or can keep a look out in your opt shops over there.

    Doreen

  • Philip Dumelow says:

    Like so many posters here, we too have a Tower 2917-C slow cooker, more than 30yrs old. It’s brilliant – currently it’s softening Seville skins for marmalade. It’s so well used the glaze inside the pot is wearing off & we want to replace it. I’ve filled in Tower’s contact form but all the research I’ve done indicates the model is obsolete & spares unobtainable.
    If this is so, what make / model (around 3.5L / 6.1pts) would you recommend to replace it?

  • Pauline Last says:

    I have an old tower slow cooker 2761/9 3.5 litre 130 watt.Has anyone got the recipe book for this? It just has 2 settings -low or high. Please can anyone help?

  • GS says:

    g7uk.com writes:

    I’ve now scanned the instruction book which covers the Auto, Carefree and Compact models and the link to the PDF download is at the bottom of the article.

  • GS says:

    g7uk.com writes:

    If you’re looking for a modern-day replacement in the UK then I would suggest the Cookworks models sold by Argos. Currently the 3.5l model sells for £14.99 and the smaller 1.5l for £9.99. Both have removable pots and glass lids.

    However as I mentioned in the original article above, I see they still use more power than the old Tower models: 200w and 163w. I’ve had a Cookworks for about 7 years and it’s still going strong.

    I see that Wilkinsons (wilko.com) has a 1.5l model at £10 with clear lid and removable pot. Unlike the Argos Compact this has low, high and auto settings. No word on wattage. I reckon the only reason to pay more is if you want one that’s a better match for your kitchen decor, as these are all white.

  • Di says:

    I don’t think stew is as good done in a slow cooker asin a pan on the hob. The stirring seems to make it lose some of the vegetable edges and these break down into a thick liquid full of flavour.

  • Julie says:

    I am turning the house upside down as we just moved and I need to use my Tower Auto SloCooker 2917-C my mum had the same one so dont need instructions. It has the outer part which holds the inner crock,which looks like toffee glazed earthenware. Both lid and base are immaculate and these cookers are fantastic. Got mine in a jumble sale for 50p.

    IF I cant find the lead, anyone on this list who needs the entire crock pot or the base or lid only is welcome to contact me but you’ll have to pay postage or come and collect (PE15) UK.

    Details off the base of the outer casing are:
    capacity 3.5 ltrs = 6.1 pints
    140 watts with 3 setting rocker switch to front of base

    Wish I could post a picture here. It has a ‘hooded’ rocker switch with high at the base, low in the middle, and auto at the top. There is a rectangular red light flush to the panel which glows when it is on.

    If anyone has a lead they dont want, PLEASE let me have it! It is the only thing missing. It is the UK electricity three prong type plug top and a longer narrow plug with three holes for the three pins which are inside the part the plug pushes into.

    My mum swore by hers, used all through the war years, turned very tough meat into soft fall off the bone tasty stews, soups, casseroles.

    Any websites out there dedicated to Slo Cookers ?

    Julie in March, Cambs, UK

  • Andy says:

    Does anyone have a switch on their tower brown and cream slow cooker the high and low switch light stays on the low side no matter if I have it switched to high? Which setting is high and which low it seems wired wrong?

  • GS says:

    g7uk.com in reply to Andy:

    It might be time to get rid of it if it seems to have an electrical fault. Especially as they’re switched on for long periods unattended.

  • sandra hasan says:

    Has anyone solved the teplacement bulb for
    3872 tower compact slow cooker

  • sandra hasan says:

    I bought a second hand tower compact. I have tried two recipes in it and find although it works its such liw temp it takes more hours than expected to cook a recipe. I compare it to an old prestige crock-ette i had which produces cooked food in a given time. Do i have a dud or do others do other users find it very slow cooking

  • June Ryan says:

    I bought a Cordon Bleu slow cooker in a charity shop but it has no instructions. That’s fine but I wonder if anyone can tell me which way the rocker switch should be for the two settings – Low and High. What setting is the depressed side of the rocker switch activating?

    Trying it out for the first time today

 

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