Slow cookers provide an easy, hands-off option for preparing meals. They roast meats, vegetables and other foods inside a covered cooking pot over a period of several hours. The lid keeps in moisture, allowing foods to simmer and become especially flavorful. West Bend slow cookers consist of an electric heating base with adjustable temperature and a separate ceramic pot, which can be removed for serving, cleaning, or storing in the fridge. The 5-quart oblong model has temperature settings from 1 to 5. The 6-quart oval model has settings of warm, low, medium and high.
Use setting 1 (warm #1) only to warm rolls and muffins. At 140 degrees Fahrenheit, this setting should not be used for cooking.
Use setting 2 (warm #2) to keep cooked foods warm until they're ready to be served.
Use settings 3, 4 and 5 (low, medium high) for cooking. The setting you choose determines the length of time the food will cook. A typical meal with meat and vegetables needs 7 to 10 hours to cook at the low or #3 setting, 4 to 6 hours at the medium or #4 setting, and 2 to 3 hours at the high or #5 setting. According to a West Bend customer service representative, all West Bend slow cooker models eventually simmer at the boiling point, or 212 degrees. The setting simply determines how quickly the cooker will reach that temperature.
Meats--especially cheaper cuts--become more tender when cooked at lower temperatures for longer periods of time. The West Bend/Focus Electronics customer service hotline is (866) 290-1851.
Removing the cover during cooking can release heat and lengthen the cooking process. Remove the cover only to stir contents or to add ingredients.
Christine Hayes has been writing and editing professionally since 1995. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in music from Brigham Young University, she built a career writing materials for both freelance assignments and corporate positions. Publications include the Lehi Free Press and in-house corporate magazines "The Excellent Word" and "Stampin' Success."