I bought a replacement lid - or should I say I got a replacement lid, paying only shipping charges ($4.99) - so that I can remove the gasket from the original and check out the seal (or lack thereof). I haven't gotten to that yet, but I noticed right away that the rubber on the replacement lid smells different than the rubber on the original lid. My plan is to try the new lid to see if heat affects the smell. If not, i.e. that the new lid doesn't stink, then the Chinese manufacturer of the cooker is using different rubbers. Hamilton Beach customer service, by the way, has absolutely no customer focus and, by the looks of things, no corrective action in place for this issue despite numerous complaints. It took quite a bit of effort on my part just to have them send me a replacement lid instead of a whole new cooker; and had I let them send me a replacement cooker, they wanted the old one back. I will update this discussion once I have more information.
You're welcome Rainer. So, good news! We used the cooker last night with the new lid to make a chicken vegetable soup. We had it cooking on high for 5 hours and there was only a very faint smell from the rubber gasket; i.e. a faint smell but no stink. I can now say, I'm happy with my cooker. Not finished yet though; still will check how the original lid works without a rubber gasket and report back here (may take a while before I get to it). Cheers!
I removed the rubber gasket today. Once the gasket is removed, there's a lot of play between the steel band and the glass, so I removed the steel band also. The obvious result is that it's just the glass lid sitting on the porcelain pot, but not a good fit. Since I'd gotten a replacement lid from Hamilton Beach which doesn't smell, I'm all set. The original lid will probably end up at the dump.
Perhaps I should keep my nose out of this discussion, but I have had my Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker for over a year now with no problems with the rubber gasket spreading odors into the food whatsoever. My worry instead is that that the gasket will crack and shrivel under the intense heat of water in the dishwasher and become unusable; I have pursued the obvious solution which is to wash the lid by hand, a minor inconvenience. Also, I have given this same model of Hamilton Beach slow cooker as a gift and heard no complaint from the recipient about a stink from the gasket so I wonder if it was a defect that only temporarily affected the product.
Just as follow up, the lid from which I'd removed the stinky rubber gasket, did end up in the dump. The rubber gasket of the replacement lid that Hamilton Beach sent me does not stink, so the problem is that Hamilton Beach has lids with gaskets that stink and lids with gaskets that don't stink; they are possibly using two or more suppliers for their lids - or haven't properly specified the rubber gasket material to be used. Looking at the overall quality of the Slow Cooker, which is less than impressive, I can be fairly certain in the future that if it has the name Hamilton Beach on it, I won't buy it.
I would love to hear the results of removing the gasket, as I have also been suffering through a weird taste to the food that I've made in this crock pot (which all this time I'd thought was just my bad cooking).
After dealing with H-B's awful customer service and paying (shipping) for a second lid that gave me the same problem, I'll never use any of their products again. I spent some extra dough and bought another (gasketless) slow cooker that has been great. Too bad, because there were many things I liked about the "Set and Forget" model. Oh well!
Thanks, Curt. I also cut out the rubber gasket, and the results are obviously the same although I can still strongly smell the rubber so won't waste food cooking with it again. I'm working with Hamilton Beach customer service to have the lid replaced at no cost...hoping they come through since it's obviously a serious defect in quality on their part - and potentially a safety issue.