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I have a (meat) slow-cooker and very occasionally want to be able to slow-cook dairy foods. Is it possible to adapt my existing appliance for this purpose?

The slow-cooker consists of a glazed clay crock with a glass lid that sits in an electric heating element. (My crock is removable, though that is not always the case.) As the name implies, the appliance is run for many hours -- overnight, or morning to evening, or sometimes longer (24+ hours).

Possibilities that have occurred to me:

  • Get a second crock (and lid?). Does the meat crock transmit its meat-ness to the heating element, making this problematic (so I would need a whole new slow-cooker), or is that not a concern because food never touches the heating element?

  • Use some sort of disposable liner. I undertand that one can buy plastic liners but I have no experience with this. (That may be a question for Cooking.SE.) Or use a disposable foil pan (wrapped in foil) to hold the dairy food. If this is a valid approach, it would be less of a storage problem (and probably expense) than buying a second crock.

  • Place a (dairy) casserole inside the crock. Does the dairy casserole in the meat crock pose a problem? Does there need to be something between them, like foil? (This approach involves no waste from disposable liners/pans/etc.)

  • Forget about using the slow-cooker to slow-cook and just leave the oven on all night instead (consumes more power and, in summer, heats up the house). This is what I do now, unless I just give up on the slow-cooked dairy food entirely.

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Technically, flavor does not transfer from one utensil to another unless some liquid is present as a conduit. Practically, however, there will usually be spillover that can cause problems. In theory one could use a separate crock with an aluminum liner to catch any spills, but this is not very practical either. Probably the best bet is to buy a dedicated crockpot for dairy; they are pretty cheap, and it will save you lots of hassle in the long run.

Edit from comments: or use a "plata" style slow-cooker like this one; you could use a dairy vessel with that if you put foil over the heating element.

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"Technically, flavor does not transfer from one utensil to another unless some liquid is present as a conduit. Practically, however, there will usually be spillover that can cause problems." Right: and for that reason, we do not (if I recall correctly from when I learned basar v'chalav) rely on that rule l'chatchila. As always, consult your rabbi rather than relying on me! – msh210 Jan 13 '12 at 17:38
Thanks. The storage problem is actually more significant than the cost. – Monica Cellio Jan 13 '12 at 17:47
@MonicaCellio - I suspected that storage was part of the issue. But if you were already willing to get a separate crock, the heating unit wouldn't take up that much more space. – Dave Jan 13 '12 at 17:54
@msh210 - correct you are, as per Rama in Yoreh Deah 92:8, quoting Shaarei Dura. However, Badei Hashulchan there explains that the reason for not relying on this rule l'chatchila is because it is subject to dispute. – Dave Jan 13 '12 at 18:00
@SethJ - Re: plastic liners, aside from the leakage problem, I would note that the manufacturers recommend pouring water underneath so that it won't melt. This would basically make the liner useless from a kashrus perspective, I think. – Dave Jan 13 '12 at 18:03

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