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Pressure Cookers and what's your favorite? [Moved from Home Cooking board]

On my Christmas list this year, is a request for two things(mandoline) and one of them being a pressure cooker. I know just about next to nothing about pressure cookers but have heard such wonderful things about them from people that swear by them.

Please tell me which one you think is best. I am not worried about price, mainly function and results and of course the safety factor. I am smiling as I write this because I am finally going to get two of my most wanted kitchen helpers!

In advance, I thank you so much as I do really appreciate your educated responses!

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  1. I have a Kuhn Rikon...I've had it for about 7 years. I used it a lot when I was working as a personal chef. I don't use it as much now.

    I've been really happy with it. Never have had any problems or issues and have always been pleased with the results.

    I don't think you can go wrong with either Kuhn Rikon or Fagor.

    7 Replies
    1. re: ziggylu

      Thanks! I appreciate your answer. Can't wait to get it and use it. I know I won't use it everyday, but people I've talked to say it does an amazing job tenderizing meat quickly.

      1. re: ziggylu

        Ziggylu, may I ask what your favorite dish to cook in the p.c. was in your personal chef days? I have an OLD Presto that I won't part with (it's like a tank!) so I'm just curious as to what you loved cooking in yours.

        1. re: Val

          I used it mostly for soups, stews, and red sauce when I was working as a p.c. Some of my clients favorites were a beef stew with dried cherries, mushroom barley soup, and lamb shanks. I used the red sauce as a component in other things i'd be making during a visit.

          Very handy tool. I don't use it at home much these days though.

        2. re: ziggylu

          Though there is a Fagor (canning set) on sale on Amazon which might not be true Fagor - at least if the reviews are to be believed.

          I recently returned to using a pressure cooker, using a 4 qt Presto from the mid 80's. Also ordered replacement gaskets. That is new enough to have a lid interlock that keeps the cook from opening the lid while there is still pressure. So as long as you don't try to do something stupid, safety should not be big differentiator in a new cooker.

          There are some web sites that give recipes and hints on using pressure cookers. That largest is missvickie.com There are also books. I'm looking at a couple from the library. Lorna Sass has several books out.

          paulj

          1. re: paulj

            I got the Amazon set. It is a little bigger than I need but thank goodness it is not too small. It arrived last week and the first thing I made in it was a porcini risotto. It was done in 7 minutes as promised. I think the slow cooker is going to languish in the basement.

            BTW' though Amazon bills it as being a Fagor and it is hard to tell the difference between the two, it does have a different name on it and is made in China. Also is non-stick. For the $29.99 and free shipping I don't care what name they chose to give it. I sell Fagors so am familiar with them.

            1. re: Candy

              Another Chinese PC that I've been tempted to get is the one distributed by GCI Outdoors, and sold by many camping stores. It's hard anodized, with short handles that should pack well with camping gear. In the past I've used my 4qt Presto on extended camping trips, making dishes like chicken cacciatore in minutes.

              I recently tried the rissotto, and was relatively pleased. It wasn't prefect, but promising. Chickpeas have also worked well. With a metal mixing bowl as insert I've made a good blueberry steamed pudding, and a quick Indian pudding.

              paulj

          2. re: ziggylu

            I've got the 8 qt. Kuhn Rikon and have had it for 3 years now. It's brilliant. It came with Lorna Sass' "Pressure Perfect" book in the box. While I have to say that we haven't used many of the recipes, we do use her techniques and suggestions a lot.

          3. Can't tell you which is the best but I own a Fagor Elite 8 qt and I'm very happy with it. It only has one pressure setting but I don't find that a problem with what I use it for. If you don't already have a madoline you will love it. I would recommend at a Japanese Benriner model at the least. They are easy to use, work great and are inexpensive. I use mine more than the more expensive Bron I have.

            1 Reply
            1. re: scubadoo97

              ooooo thanks for the tip on the mandoline as well, these are two tools that I dearly want. I can't wait to get them! Thanks for your input all!

            2. I have been using two fagor pressure cookers in a Personal Chef biz for almost three years now. I love them. Easy to use, easy to clean and a great time saver. I use one or both at least 5 - 6 each week. Sometimes 2 -3 times in one day.
              I have clients with allergies and usually start every service day by making a large pot of chicken stock to be used through out the day.

              5 Replies
              1. re: jdm

                Wow! I am so excited with the all the possibilities for this utensil. What is the quart size?

                1. re: chef chicklet

                  I bought a set directly from Fagor and it included an 8 qt and a 4 qt pot, one lid that fits both, a glass lid and a steaming basket.
                  I believe the site is fagoramerica.com
                  Good luck.

                2. re: jdm

                  jdm, I wonder if you could share how you make the stock. I guess I wonder if you use a whole chicken, or parts. I'm having a little trouble getting the flavor I want when I use a p cooker for this task.

                  1. re: sueatmo

                    I've been impressed with how well the PC extracts gelatin and calcium from the meat and bones. Flavor may not quite as good as with slow cooking because PC does not allow anything to brown. With a conventional pan you get some browning at the surface and rim of the pot above the liquid. So if that flavor component is important, I'd suggest frying or roasting the bones and vegetables before hand.

                    paulj

                    1. re: paulj

                      I brown things before putting them in the PC. Roasting the bones in the oven like when making stock the regular way gives you a nice rich stock.

                3. I've had two pressure cookers from SEB...I love them. The first I bought 30 years ago -- it's a French brand I learned about while living in France, but I bought the pressure cooker in the US. Never had anything go wrong with it...ever...in 30 years. The second I bought just last year on Ebay-- the very same model. Check Ebay's prices in general. I love SEB.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    How easy is it to get replacement gaskets for these various brands? Presto gaskets are available some retail stores (more likely in semi-rural regions where people do canning), and online.

                    Or are the brands that use some sort of gasket-less seal?

                    paulj

                    1. re: paulj

                      There are many online sites for ordering replacement pressure cooker parts.
                      Here are two:
                      http://abtecparts.com/
                      http://missvickie.com/resources/parts...

                    2. re: maria lorraine

                      My grandmother just gave me a SEB pressure cooker that looks like maybe it was used once and has been sitting in a box for 30 years or so??? I am going to try to cook a roast in it today and see what happens but I have never cooked in a pressure cooker before. Any pointers?
                      It is the SEB Super Cooker Model 025430 Aluminum Pressure Cooker 8 quarts
                      I also have the 300 recipes for SEB Pressure Cookers book .... but many look unfamiliar to what I am use to cooking with.

                      1. re: saukcity

                        Saukcity, what kind of roast are you doing, may I ask? Make sure to season and brown it before putting it under pressure, that would be my first tip, which you may already know.

                        1. re: saukcity

                          Check the gaskets (including any safety valves). On a cooker that old, they might be hard and cracked. If so they need to be replaced before you use it.

                          1. re: paulj

                            The SEB gaskets hold up pretty well. You can tell if there are any leaks or gaps (those other than what you can see easily) by just making something.

                            In answer to your question on cooking a roast in a pressure cooker, it's not
                            my preferred method for that. I like high oven heat for a roast, and browning
                            prior to going into the oven for increased flavor. However, the pressure cooker is awesome for some meat sauces, chicken stock, an entire head of cabbage (the cabbage gets sweet/caramelizes) and so many other things. You're lucky you have a SEB. I've had one of my SEBS for 30 years. It is still perfect.

                      2. Magefesa is the single best pressure cooker ever. Light and solidly built. It has no nasty jiggly top. Silicone seals that last forever (with proper care). No funny taste (aluminum pressures I'm talking about you). I love it. I use it. I'm a fan. Is it more expensive, yes. Is it worth it, absolutely. The easiest, most convenient lid ever. The pressure release clip is a dream.

                        Buy it, use it and thank me later.

                        For more info http://www.magefesausa.com/

                        1. I don't know a thing about pressure cookers and which ones are the best, but I have a Mantra, and I LOVE that thing!! I use it to make quick dinners all the time. The Mantra I have is a 6 quart(?) and it came with a steaming basket (which I've never used) and a clear glass lid so that you can use it as a stockpot (rather handy on occasion). I got it as a wedding gift, so I have no idea where it came from or how much it cost, but if you do a goodsearch for it, you should find the website to see where to buy it from there.

                          1. Huge Thank you all for your advice and input. I best go for the larger one I think.
                            Honestly, I have to level with you, I have always had this nagging fear of an explosion. Why? because I came home one summer afternoon when I was 12 years old to see my Dad swathed in gauze with gook smeared all over him, sitting in front of a fan. With all the looks of a horrible sunburn. My mom was cleaning sauerkraut off the ceiling for months, least that's what it looked like to me.
                            Yes he did something stupid, and he had been canning for years.. I guess the newer pressure cookers are more safe. Please say yes.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: chef chicklet

                              Infinitely more safe. The new ones have automatic release valves so that the pressure literally cannot get to the point where it will explode. They also have locking mechanisms that make it so you cannot open the cooker if there is too much pressure inside.

                              They're entirely safe. (My wife is still happy to have me do all the cooking in ours, though.)

                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                Yes yes yes. Your poor Dad.

                              2. Can anyone tell me how to make rice in a pressure cooker? White or brown...

                                I've never done it and have heard it turns out well. Thank you!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                  I haven't done brown rice, but it should be similar to steel cut oats: 1 cup grain to 2 1/4 cups water; bring to full pressure for 5 minutes, then cut the heat off and let the steam subside.
                                  White rice: 1 cup rice to 1 1/4 cups water, bring to full pressure for 1.5 to 2 minutes, then cut the heat and let sit.
                                  Risottos should be similar to white rice, with slightly added times, and more liquid.

                                  Don't over cook as there could be scorching. You want to vigorously cook the grains in liquid until they are are ready to burst, then cut the heat and let them absorb the liquid. If they are cooked too long,some starches will go to the bottom and scorch. Same with beans, and any sauces with a sugar content.

                                2. I've been a Presto fan for years but finally gave up after three units. One of the main reasons is the price of rubber gaskets (approx $10) which is available at many local hardware stores but the lifespan is very limited. Mines gets stretched out or starts to leak after several uses. But I love the rocking motion of the release valve which is a plus. I decided to try another brand called a Tramontina Pressure Cooker from Sam's Club which I really like. The gasket seems to be made out of nylon instead of neoprene unlike the Presto which I think may last longer? You'll love the pressure cooker no matter what brand.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Clinton

                                    My Kuhn Rikon is now several years old(7+) I'm still on my original gasket and it shows no sign of needing replacing. I don't use it as much now but it did get heavy use for a few years there(several times a week).

                                    Mine's going as i type actually making some chicken stock...

                                    1. re: Clinton

                                      While the Presto gaskets may not be as long lasting as some others, they should be lasting a lot more than 'several uses'. While I've used my Presto on and off over several decades, I think the gaskets should be lasting several years of regular use.

                                      paulj

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        My 6 quart Presto has gone through at least three or four gaskets since I've owned it . The rubber seems to stretch and fails to pressurize after a while. My last gasket lasted three sessions before leaking. I gave up and bought a new pressure cooker at Sam's and have been happy ever since. Plus it's a nine quart which I really like. Six quart was a little too small for me. I love the Presto but $10 everytime I needed a new gasket was getting out of hand.

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          I had a Fagor for years, before the handle broke off. I replaced it with an 8 quart Presto and it's been going strong for 2 years. I make sure to lubricate the gasket with mineral oil after every use. I used the same procedure for the Fagor and the gasket outlasted the handle.

                                          http://www.amazon.com/Presto-8-Quart-...

                                          1. re: paulj

                                            Gasket on my current Presto is 3 years old. No issues at all.
                                            You have to love how a pressure cooker cuts down on cooking time and locks in the flavour. The idea is old school and has evolved to a near hi-tech method.
                                            I am surprised that we don't see more of these in the mainstream and even in some restaurant kitchens.

                                        2. I own several pressure cookers. The one that sees nearly daily use is a Kuhn Rikon 7-liter model.

                                          There are plenty of good cookers out there. Most importantly, get a model that controls the pressure with a spring-loaded valve, not a weight. Stainless steel construction, a pressure indicator (preferably with multiple pressures marked), and silicone gaskets are also desireable. Safety features that are pretty much standard these days are a lid lock and redundant pressure-release devices. Probably not an issue if you're buying new, but when shopping at garage sales it's buyer beware.

                                          The thing that amazes me about modern cookers is the way they keep the liquids in the pot instead of venting them into the room. So you only need a few tablespoons of water (check your manual first) to pressure-steam a chicken for enchiladas or Yukon Golds for potato salad. And it just takes a few minutes--it's like magic!

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                            I don't have any experience with the spring value type (yet), but I suspect that is what allows the newer, European style, cookers to be so frugal with the water. The weight control (or jiggle top) depends on a slow release of steam to maintain pressure. Is there any other major advantage to the spring value type?

                                            I just bought a small Hawkins (Indian made) pressure cooker (1.5 L), intending to use it for camping. The lid closure is different than most, but it uses the weight like Presto.

                                            paulj

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              The main thing I like about the spring valve is that it's quiet. My huge Mirro pressure canner uses a weight on top (no surprise given that it's probably more than 50 years old), and it startles the dogs every time pressure releases.

                                              Ever since attempting to make pinto beans at 6700 feet a few years ago (turns out it takes about two days of simmering before they're edible), I've included a pressure cooker as part of my car-camping cookware. Is the Hawkins for backpacking, or is it too heavy for that?

                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                REI lists it as 2lb 14oz, a bit heavy for most backpacking.
                                                http://www.rei.com/product/735839

                                                Just the pan, lid and weight come in at 33 oz, compared to 20 oz for a restaurant aluminum sauce pan of the same volume.

                                                I intend to use it car camping for meals for 2 and no leftovers (3 cups total volume). It is small enough to work with my Trangia (alcohol) stove (6 1/4" diameter). With regular pans I tend not to prepare meals that require more than 15 minutes of cooking. With this I'll pay attention to the cheaper cuts of meat in the small town groceries.

                                                On the Ruidoso NW chuck wagon cookoff shows (food network), contestants worry about getting their beans done on time in the dutch ovens. That's in the 6000' altitude range.

                                                paulj

                                                1. re: paulj

                                                  I just cooked a pound of duck gizzards in this small PC using the alcohol stove. Total amount of broth and meat was about 3 cups. Cooked it at pressure for 15 minutes, and let the pressure drop naturally. The trickiest thing was lowering the heat of the stove enough to allow a slow release of steam.

                                                  With this brand of cooker, if the heat is too high, the weight lifts a bit and releases a burst of steam. Then it settles back and lets the pressure buildup. Other than loosing moisture and using more fuel there isn't any real harm in this.

                                                  paulj

                                          2. I own a Fagor, and before that several American pressure cookers with the old-fashioned jiggle regulators. The pots didn't hold up with regular use. I would not buy American.

                                            I have a Fagor because that was what was available at our local Bed Bath & Beyond. I use the basket for potatoes, to prevent soggyiness. I can use as little as 1/4 c. of water in mine so the basket works out fine. A few herbs in the water add a subtle flavor, if I want. I also use Lorna Sass's cookbook. Her tables of cook times are very helpful, but I haven't been enthused by her recipes.

                                            I feel very safe using the cooker. I bring the heat up on high, then back it off to med high as soon as I see the pressure button begin to rise. I am slightly disappointed with how dried beans turn our. Other than that, it is a most helpful tool.

                                            1. I recommend the Fagor...the Duo model was rated best by CI, and they are less expensive than the Kuhn Rikon. I don't recommend getting anything smaller than a 6 qt, especially if you plan on doing grains and beans. Get a copy of a Lorna Sass book and read what she says before buying. I have an older Fagor that I've had for 12 years, replaced the gaskets twice. (I should have been better about oiling them!) I use it for stocks, stews, risotto (15 minutes total, and no stirring!). I steamed/braised potatoes last night for mashed potatoes and it was great and quick.

                                              1. How about using your pressure cooker on an induction burner? Obviously aluminum ones would not work, but not all stainless steel works either. Some of the Fagor product descriptions claim induction compatibility. Even if it does work, does your induction burner allow you to fine tune the heat level once you have reached pressure?

                                                paulj

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: paulj

                                                  I have a fagor Duo pressure cooker and have their portable induction burner as well. Love using them together, the great thing about induction is excatly that you can fine tune it. And because of the energy efficientcy of both of these things you do save plenty of time and energy. Not to mention my kitchen dosent turn into a miserable tropical environment when cooking with them in the summer becasue there is very little heat given off. I called Fagor and verified that all of their regular cookware and all of their pressure cookers from cheapest model to most expensive models are all induction compatible. Pressure cooking on induction is defintely my new cooking method of choice!!! Ps- The fagor customer service person told me they have videos on both the pressure cookers and the induction on youtube.. you might want to take a look.

                                                2. My last food column for the local newspaper was on pressure cookers. I have the Fagor digital, and love, love, love it.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                    I'd love to see your column or a link to it as I teach pressure cooking. Not sure what the Fagor digital is. Can you explain?
                                                    I have a You Tube video on using the pressure cooker, too.
                                                    What's not to like about pressure cooking?

                                                    1. re: The Veggie Queen

                                                      The Fagor digital is their new Comb-Cooker. It is electronic and is a programmable 6 qt, pressure cooker, slow cooker and rice cooker, all in one appliance. Pikawicca got hers from the shop I work in, we are selling through and reordering soon. They are great. I'd buy one but I have a 6qt. and 10 qt. Fagor. I am sending one to my niece for Christmas.

                                                  2. I purchased this Fagor U Cook set from Amazon about 2 wks ago:
                                                    http://www.amazon.com/Fagor-7-Piece-D...

                                                    I chose this one after a ton of research. While the Kuhn Rikon is the Lexus of PC's the Fagor is at least a Camry. Solid construction, dual pressure, no jiggly thing on top. Very safe and easy to use. This set comes with some useful accessories.

                                                    Be careful to get a PC that goes to 15 psi as most recipes are written (and timed) for 15. Some of them don't go that high and your times will increase.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: al b. darned

                                                      The Fagor U Cook set is the sleeper of the Fagor line and extremely popular in Europe where kitchen storage is an issue. I agree about the Camry issue and which PC to purchase. I describe it just that way except I say that the other ones (Kuhn Rikon, WMF and Fissler) are the Mercedes of cookers. I am fine with a more standard car, and PC, myself.

                                                      1. re: The Veggie Queen

                                                        I'd find the 6L pot in the U Cook set more useful than the 8 in other sets. When I handled it the 8 just seemed too big. It appears that the base of the 6 fits inside the 4. They also use the taper on the 6 to support the steamer basket. Making the steamer holes serve double duty as a grater might be pushing the cleverness a bit too far! I'll have to keep an eye on the prices for this set.