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May 9, 2010 12:00 AM

Pressure Cookers; cooking pressures, difference between Fagors, and two out of curiosity

As I'm choosing pressure cookers right now, and my budget will only support a Fagor, I have two questions here:

1. For those who use a Duo or Futuro: when do you use low pressure setting?

2. Fagor has 3 single-pressure lines: Rapida, Splendid, and Elite. While Rapida's difference to the other two is clear, how is Splendid and Elite different?

And two questions out of curiosity:

3. Although I'm sure all Presto pressure cookers are weight-valved, how do they succeed to use a dial-type mechanism in their Professional 8-qt (01370)?

4. Probably this is more on cooking than cookware: I have checked through the website of Hawkins, India's largest pressure cooker maker, and found something interesting. While natural and "forced" decompression are the norm for pressure cooking elsewhere, Hawkins mentioned a third more dangerous decompression method that seemed to be the norm in Indian cooking: lifting (not removing) the valve. ( ) Their iconic Futura is such designed to remove the valve safely-- which begs they question: if the food are so delicate that it needs decompression as immediate as this, why use pressure cookers anyway?

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  1. Hi, Sam. I am also in the (long) process to buy my first pc. I am in the middle between Fissler and Fagor Futuro. This might answer your question about the difference of their lines.

    1. The rapid pressure release has more to do with cooking times than the delicacy of the food. Natural release can add five or more minutes to the cooking time, and can vary with the pot, and contents. In a sense it is less predicable. Generally if using natural release, you should spend less time at full pressure.

      Lorana Sass strongly recommends natural release for meat, especially beef, claiming the fibers will more tender.

      I don't use a pressure cooker for vegetables with a short cooking time, and where timing is critical.

      I have a small Hawkins. The regulator weight snaps onto the valve stem (with a couple of spring loaded ball bearings). But it can still rise a bit. If the pressure gets to high, it lifts the weight, lets out a burst of steam. I think this is the whistle that some writers refer to. You can also manually lift the weight (while still clipped in place), releasing steam. There's even a little loop on top that you could lift with a spoon handle.

      Lifting the weight like this has the same effect as turning the Fagor control to the pressure release position. In both cases you want to keep your hands out of the way.

      In theory the weight of a Presto could be removed to quickly release steam. But this would be much harder to control. It would be difficult to replace the weight. My 80s era presto it would be safer to press the lid interlock.

      But the safest quick release method is to put the cooker in a pan of water, or under running water. But the running water method is not a good idea with a Hawkins. Water could easily enter the pot one the pressure seal is broken.