I need to cook up big batches of yarn.
July 18, 2012 11:02 AM   Subscribe

My turkey roaster used for yarn dyeing ... died. Help me find a replacement: a kitchen appliance with a very large, preferably shallow, stainless steel cookwell.

As a hobby, I dye wool yarn using acid dyes, which require heat to set. This can be done with a stove-top pot or microwave, but to be able to produce the color gradients and quantities desired (and to keep unsafe and messy chemicals out of our kitchen), I previously used a large electric turkey roaster like this.

Unfortunately, the enamel/porcelain coating on the cookwell did not hold up to repeated exposure to heat and acid. It corroded, retained dye, and finally began to bleed rusty stains onto my yarn. I need something new with the following attributes:

1. Stainless steel interior: this is the hardest part; there are tons of roaster ovens but nearly all the consumer models have the same problematic enamel coating.

2. Large, shallow configuration: a deep vessel shaped like a stock pot will make it hard for me to apply colors. I strongly prefer something at least as long and wide as my previous 22 quart roaster (are smaller roasters just less deep?).

3. Electric power: needs to be able to be used indoors with a standard outlet.

4. Reasonable price: I don't want to pay more than $250.

Any ideas?
posted by amber_dale to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Have you considered just using disposable plastic roaster liners like this with whatever roaster has a good size and heat model? It's more waste, but seems like it may solve some of the problems (and make cleanup easier).
posted by brainmouse at 11:05 AM on July 18, 2012

There's a 16" long stainless steel electric frying pan.
posted by Ery at 11:11 AM on July 18, 2012

What about a crock pot? Mine has a ceramic insert, would that work with your dyes? The one I have is not that deep, it really doesn't look any deeper than what is linked (unless yours was significantly more shallow than that one!)
posted by kellyblah at 11:31 AM on July 18, 2012

Here's an 18-quart stainless steel roaster.
posted by essexjan at 11:35 AM on July 18, 2012

What temperature range do you need?
posted by caclwmr4 at 11:40 AM on July 18, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses so far. To clarify:

On size, 2.5 inches (like the electric frying pan linked) is not deep enough. A crock pot is too narrow and deep; I used to have one and it is really only good for 4 ounces or less of yarn. That 18 quart one is what I have been looking at, but even 22 quarts was a bit small for 12 ounces of yarn, which is the dye lot size I need.

Temperature: Basically, it needs to be able to boil water. I had to crank my old roaster up fairly high (300+) to do that, but it might have just sucked.

I am deeply skeptical of those liners but in a baseless and nonscientific way. Could be worth a shot!
posted by amber_dale at 11:57 AM on July 18, 2012

The foil liners might not do well with anything acidic.
posted by essexjan at 12:13 PM on July 18, 2012

Have you thought about using what we in the UK would call a tea urn?
posted by essexjan at 12:58 PM on July 18, 2012

not sure if there are any in your area, but I have seen these at the Goodwill store.
posted by Gungho at 1:42 PM on July 18, 2012

Best answer: My crock pot is wide and more shallow than the old ones, but may not be big enough for you. The crock is removable/replaceable, so that is a bonus. I have been looking for an old small one to play with at thrift stores for the same reason, so am really interested to see what people suggest.

Out of the box, you could maybe hybridize something together. If your heating element is still working, could you hire someone to make one for you? you could start at a restaurant supply place or scrap yard for the stainless tub part. Here are some stainless food pans.

A restaurant supply might be a really good place to look, even. This unit is a counter-top steamer.
posted by annsunny at 3:45 PM on July 18, 2012

The largest crock pot I have seen is 7 quart. That's too small.

What you want/need is a stainless steel stock pot, something that shares the same market as home brewing.

You have two choices that I have encounters: cheap and crappy and expensive and good.

When I started brewing, I managed to find a stock pot at Wal*Mart that was cheap and crappy. It works. It routinely scorches on the bottom on a gas stove. Electric will probably we worse. This is because it is cheap and crappy. Still, if I'm careful with the heat, I can minimize the scorching. This bad boy is 35 quarts and is likely to be total crap - thin walled, thin bottomed and with a few rolls to help keep the bottom from bulging out (but only barely).

If you think of this as a brewing problem, you can order a 40 quart beast for under $100 from Williams Brewing. Williams is a reliable, reputable company. You might also look for a local brew store. They might be willing to match. The nicer thing about this compared to a stock pot is that you have a drain valve that you can use to run the waste dye into a jar or however you choose to dispose of it. Mrs. Plinth has dyed wool in our kitchen and a drain valve would certainly mitigate the stains on the counter that will Never. Come. Out.

If you want to step up to 60 quarts, you can get this one for under $300, but that's slightly out of your range. Heck you could get TWO 40 quart pots and be under your $250 budget. TWO - that 80 quarts of dyeing capacity.

Now, this doesn't meet your criteria of low and wide. Sorry. How long do you need the water at 200F? Because, to me that says EFFING HUGE picnic cooler. Dump in boiling water, mix in your dye and fixer (vinegar, right?) and slap on the lid. Yes, the plastic will take on dye, but who cares? The temperature of the water will drop roughly 30 degrees, but the cooler will hold it there for close to an hour. When I brew, I boil a bunch of water and then dump it into a picnic cooler full of grain. My goal is to keep it at 170-180F for 45 minutes, and the cooler does this quite well. If you can stand to wait until the last week of August to make the purchase, even better because sporting goods, hardware and big box stores want the coolers gone because they're huge and take up a ton of perfectly good floor space that could be used for Christmas decorations that need to be up the day after labor day. In fact, you could probably pick up a propane turkey frying rig, the 40 quart pot from the brewing company and a cooler for under $250 and you can boil the water with a propane fueled jet engine out of your kitchen and drain it via the valve into the cooler. What do you think?
posted by plinth at 5:43 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Good call re: aluminum anything being bad. I really need the low and wide shape because of my dye process. The restaurant supply idea is interesting. It looks like a large food warmer might be an option.
posted by amber_dale at 7:30 AM on July 19, 2012

You might be able to get a food warmer used, which would be less expensive. I believe there are places that specialize in used restaurant equipment.
posted by annsunny at 2:50 PM on July 19, 2012

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