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Pressure cookers- which brand and model should I buy?

s
suppertime Apr 8, 2011 03:59 AM

I have been checking out the use of pressure cooking and am wondering about their benefits and,of course, which brand makes the safest and easiest to use version.

I have memories of my Mother carefully releasing the pressure of a wobbly knob and it always seemed like an unnecessary worry.Why not just use a regular pot!!

The newer models seem to have taken the danger out.

What do you think and is it only worth purchasing if you are in a hurry?

  1. thew Apr 8, 2011 04:28 AM

    i have kuhn ricon and i love them. i use them often, and not just when i'm in a hurry. for example the day before yesterday i made a slow cooked pasta sauce with short rib meat and ground pork.

    i wanted to do something different yesterday with the leftovers, so i got the PC out, made some kidney beans in it, and then mixed the leftover sauce with the beans, made some chili powder, and voila, a repurposed meal

    1. m
      MelMM Apr 8, 2011 04:59 AM

      The Kuhn Ricon cookers are supposed to be excellent, but if you don't want to spend so much, Fagor makes very good, reasonably priced pressure cookers. I have the Splendid model in a 6 qt/ 4 qt set, and a Duo 8 qt/4qt set. The 6 qt gets used the most. The Duo has two pressure settings, but I don't think the extra lower pressure setting is a feature worth paying for.

      And I agree that a pressure cooker is absolutely worthwhile to have and to use, even if you aren't in a rush.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MelMM
        o
        olympia Apr 8, 2011 07:29 AM

        I have an 8 qt duo and really like it. I can cook more than one thing in it in a time - i.e. chicken on the bottom and rice in a container above it. I got mine at Macy's because they were having a 40% off sale which I believe then do now and again. hths

      2. Politeness Apr 8, 2011 05:31 AM

        suppertime: "What do you think and is it only worth purchasing if you are in a hurry?"

        Addressing the last first, depending upon what foods you cook, the answer is a resounding "no."

        Do you like artichokes? There is no other method to cook a whole or half artichoke that comes close to cooking it in a pressure cooker. The artichoke will emerge dark green, not puke yellow-green, and the meat at the base of the leaf will be cooked through, but al dente, not mushy.

        Do you make risotto? A pressure cooker will not save you time to prepare risotto, but, by controlling more parameters of the process more closely, it will make the results more predictable and the resulting dish more tasty.

        We could make similar appreciations as to many other dishes.

        That said, we purchased and started using a Kuhn-Rikon pressure cooker when we had a coil-top electric range, and modulating the pressure in such an appliance, with its sluggish inertial response to changes in the controls, was a real bother. Only after we switched to induction did we start bringing our pressure cooker out frequently and with joy of anticipation of the task ahead.

        1. paulj Apr 8, 2011 09:21 AM

          Compare some cookers on Amazon. The 6qt stainless Presto sells for $45 and has almost 400 reviews with a very good average. A comparable Fagor sells for $66 and 81 reviews (a bit lower average), A KR sells for more than $200 (and 20 reviews).

          Yes the Presto has the old-fashioned rocking weight regulator. But there is nothing wrong with that, nor is it less safe than the European model that costs 5 times as much.

          3 Replies
          1. re: paulj
            thew Apr 8, 2011 11:01 AM

            i disagree - i found it much harder to know and maintain temp on the old style rocker models, than on the KR i currently use

            1. re: thew
              paulj Apr 8, 2011 11:52 AM

              I don't have experience with a KR. I have a lot of experience with Prestos, and also have a Fagor. It is easy to regular a Presto by sound - just listen for the slow rocking. While the Fagor has a yellow button to tell me the lid is locked (Presto also has a clear lock indicator), it is less obvious that it is up to full pressure.

              1. re: paulj
                thew Apr 10, 2011 01:55 PM

                that slow rocking , though - how slow, how fast is up to some interpretation when maintaining the heat. i red line on a piece of metal is a pretty clear and exact indicator

          2. m
            Miss Priss Apr 8, 2011 10:46 AM

            I agree with all that's been said here, and would add that since I started using the pressure cooker for corn on the cob, I've never even been tempted to return to another method (except for--maybe--grilling). Seems to come out tasting much livelier and truer, and with a crisper texture, than when boiled or microwaved. I guess you could get the same result with an ordinary steamer setup, but it would take a little longer. I also love it for other vegetables; the time savings is nice, but the taste is equally important. When it comes to foods that can be steamed, braised, or boiled, there's very little I won't try in a pressure cooker; and usually the results are satisfactory or better.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Miss Priss
              s
              suppertime Apr 8, 2011 11:56 AM

              Thanks to all of you for helping make my decision easier.I will definitely be purchasing a new PC in the next couple of weeks.Now I just have to sift through all of the comparisons and decide on the brand.Not an easy thing to do. I guess I am leaning toward the Fagor but the Kuhn-Rikon has its pluses as well.

              On one website the information said that you could not braise in the KR but the Fagor could.Does anyone know anything about this?Also there was some talk about the varying levels of pressure on some models.More is better?!

              1. re: suppertime
                paulj Apr 8, 2011 12:48 PM

                What do you (or that site) mean by braise? If you mean cook the meat at pressure with just enough liquid to half cover the meat, any pressure cooker can do that. If you want to cook it at a simmer (below boiling), then any pot that lets you vent the steam freely will work. With a Presto you just leave the weight off. Fagor has a 'release pressure' position that works fine for steaming. I assume KR has a similar setting. Some Fagor sets come with an extra (nonpressure) lid. Of course none are suitable for braising in the oven due to plastic parts (including the handles).

                1. re: paulj
                  s
                  suppertime Apr 8, 2011 03:47 PM

                  I thought they meant to brown in the pot before adding the water and putting it under pressure.

                  1. re: suppertime
                    paulj Apr 8, 2011 04:04 PM

                    As for browning the meat first, I don't see why it can't be done with any pressure cooker. The shape of the pot isn't ideal for browning since they tend to be rather deep. The exception would be a wide (10") 4 qt pressure cooker, such as the one that is part of a Fagor duo set.

                    1. re: paulj
                      m
                      Miss Priss Apr 8, 2011 06:26 PM

                      That's exactly why I love my wide 4-quart Fagor cooker. Bought the set (Elite, not Duo) for the 8-quart, but use the 4-quart much more often.

                  2. re: paulj
                    m
                    Miss Priss Apr 8, 2011 06:24 PM

                    Actually the K-R cookers don't have a "no-pressure" setting (unless the "Top" model does, since it has an automatic pressure release setting--but I'm only familiar with the traditional model). But of course you can always substitute an ordinary lid for the pressure-cooker lid.

              2. s
                sueatmo Apr 8, 2011 06:32 PM

                I have owned a Fagor for over 10 years. I use it frequently. It has the modern pressure regulator. I had used an old fashioned American style pressure cooker for many years before receiving my Fagor. I prefer the Fagor. For one thing the cooker is stainless; my older cookers were aluminum. But after you master the technique, the Fagor is very easy to use. (the technique on a glass topped stove: bring the pressure up on high, when the rod comes up, back the heat down to medium, and continue to cook. I recommend buying a good up to date pressure cooking book before buying. Lora Brody has a new edition of her book, I believe. It would be worthwhile to read it.

                I think if you buy one of the newer fashioned cookers, it probably would not matter which one you bought. Any should be very good. Your biggest decision might be how big a cooker to get.

                3 Replies
                1. re: sueatmo
                  s
                  suppertime Apr 8, 2011 06:44 PM

                  I have a gas stove which should bring the pressure up quickly.

                  Now I have been on a site which sells several different different brands of pressure cookers and am looking into the Fagor Futoro model 6L version. The Kuhn Rikon is also available but I think the shorter handles on the Fagor will be easier for me to handle.

                  1. re: suppertime
                    s
                    sueatmo Apr 9, 2011 02:35 PM

                    I think my Fagor is a high quality cooker. I think you'll love your cooker, whatever you buy. Have fun with it.

                    1. re: suppertime
                      n
                      Ned_Detroit Apr 9, 2011 10:12 PM

                      I have the Fagor Futoro 4 & 6 litre set and love it. I also have a Kuhn Rikon. I use them nearly every day, often for steaming leftovers;) I find a pressure cooker is especially handy now that I'm stuck for the next few months with a single induction hob. And don't forget that these high quality stainless steel pressure cookers are built like tanks and make excellent regular pots, and in the case of my small Kuhn Rikon, a very good saute pan as well.

                  2. b
                    BedazzledLV Apr 9, 2011 03:08 PM

                    I was just the same as you... a complete novice to pressure cooking. Neither my mom or my grandma use one to my knowledge. I recently purchased the 6 qt Fagor Futuro from WS. I can say without a doubt Its my favorite tool in my decked out kitchen. Its so easy, and totally not scary. Easy to tell when its up to pressure, has a nice weight, and great accessories that you can get from the website like the pasta insert, glass lid for regular use and baking pan.
                    PS the short handle on the Futuro is a BIG plus for me, as they can get annoying to work around if you are cooking multiple other things to compliment your main meal.
                    If you cook regularly for 4 or more people... get an 8-10qt. I feed 2 and the 6 quart is ideal, as I have room if I need to cook a larger dish for guests.
                    PS the free cookbook included is a nice guide, but spring for the WS pressure cooker cookbook.

                    1. j
                      juise Apr 9, 2011 11:13 PM

                      I have also been shopping for a pressure cooker, so I was very glad to see this thread. I've been trying to support US/Europe-made products. I'm thinking I want something around 6 quarts. The Kuhn Ricon is a bit out of my price range, so I've been looking at the Spanish-made Fagor Futuro and the "Practika Plus Stainless Steel 6.3-Quart Super Fast Pressure Cooker," which seems to be less common. (There were also a couple German pressure cookers that I found, but those are spendier than the Kuhn Ricon.)

                      Does anyone have experience with the Practika Plus? The price is enticing. The reviews are excellent (on Amazon and elsewhere), aside from the apparently poorly-translated users manual. I was thinking about getting Miss Vicke's book anyway. I was hoping that someone here might have some experience.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: juise
                        b
                        BedazzledLV Apr 9, 2011 11:49 PM

                        IMHO go with a brand that is easy to get parts for. I dunno bout you, but I like to make sure I can get replacement parts etc. easily, deff prefer a company that has been around a while so 10 years from now when I'm replacing a gasket, it won't be impossible to get. Also, I go by the addage " you get what you pay for". Is this other brand made out of 18/10 SS? What sort of steam release valve doesit have. You choose whatsbest for you, but I like that macys, bloomingdales, costco and William sonoma all carry fagor.

                        1. re: BedazzledLV
                          j
                          juise Apr 10, 2011 12:25 AM

                          Thanks for the response and for your perspective.

                          The Practika Plus is made by Magefesa, a Spanish company that's been around since 1946 and created a U.S. division in 2007. Their domestic website has what appears to be a full selection of parts. According to Amazon, this model is made from "surgical grade" 18/10 stainless. The valve is spring-based.

                          I think I like the Fagor slightly better, but I'm not sure how much we'll even use the pressure cooker, so paying twice as much is not amazingly appealing.

                          1. re: BedazzledLV
                            paulj Apr 10, 2011 08:35 AM

                            Getting parts is a good argument for Presto. A small town hardware store is likely to carry the most popular gaskets.

                          2. re: juise
                            m
                            Miss Priss Apr 10, 2011 06:18 AM

                            I haven't used the Magefesa Practika, but did see the 6-liter size at a Costco location a while back, and the quality looked decent. (Was thinking of buying it as a gift, but it turned out there were none in stock--just the display piece, with no box. Disappointing!) It had a nice heft and a thick encapsulated base, and it opened and closed easily. The interior surface didn't seem quite as smooth as the inside of my Fagor Elite (which was made in Spain), but that wouldn't have been a deal-breaker for me. The pressure regulating mechanism is similar to the one Fagor uses. The higher of its two pressure setting is 15 psi, the same as Fagor's. Costco's price was around $60, but even at a somewhat higher price point it would be a reasonable deal, especially if you're trying to stick with products from the USA or Europe. The manual is posted on the Magefesa USA website, so you can judge for yourself how useful (or not) it is. Clearly the Practika is a few steps down from the Kuhn Rikon; but so is my Fagor, and I've been very happy with it. In fact, I use it quite often, even though I also have a K-R. Hope this helps!

                            1. re: Miss Priss
                              j
                              juise Apr 10, 2011 10:35 AM

                              That was a great help. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience. I did notice that the instruction manual was online, but hadn't read it yet. I wonder if Magefesa re-wrote the manual after they got some bad reviews because I don't notice the unintentional comedy (bad translation) that is mentioned in reviews.

                              It seems so tricky to figure out what is made where. At one point I think the Fagor Duo line was made in Spain, but now everything I'm reading says that all Fagors are made in China with the exception of the Futuro. I notice that Macy's has the Futuro at a lower price than Amazon with coupon, so I might have to do that. It's not that I don't think that all products made in China are poor quality (I'm typing this post on my beloved Macbook Pro, made in China). It's just the direction I'm going right now. :)

                              1. re: juise
                                m
                                Miss Priss Apr 10, 2011 12:22 PM

                                Yes, all the Fagors (including the Duo) used to be made in Spain; now all except the Futuro are made in China. I don't know if there's any real difference in quality, but I imagine you could eventually find a Spanish-made Duo on eBay if you really wanted one.

                          3. e
                            ellabee Apr 10, 2011 09:17 AM

                            Can anyone here help with the dimensions of different Fagor models? In a fruitless effort to find them, I went to the Fagor site, and found this disconcerting passage in the manual of the Elite 4- and 8-quart set (the one that attracts me most):

                            "applesauce, cranberries, pearl
                            barley, oatmeal or other cereals, split peas, noodles, macaroni, rhubarb,
                            or spaghetti can foam, froth, and sputter, and clog the pressures release
                            device (steam vent). These foods should not be cooked in a pressure
                            cooker."

                            Uh, really? The perforated basket that comes with the set is described as a 'pasta insert', and is illustrated with spaghetti sitting in it. I was planning on using the pressure cooker mainly for stock, beans, chili, and other long-cooking items, so it's not a big deal, but... [correction: resellers call it a 'pasta insert'; Fagor calls it a 'steamer basket'. Someone should pass the word to the marketing and advertising staff, though...]

                            Anyway, can someone tell me the inside and outside dimensions (base diameter, height) of the Elite 8-quart? Or the Duo 8-quart, which appears to be the same size? Thanks in advance.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: ellabee
                              paulj Apr 10, 2011 09:51 AM

                              I believe Fagor sells two sizes of gaskets, 9" and 10". So their pots come in one of those two diameters. My 6 qt is 9". I believe all 8qts use the 10". The 4 qt in the duo set takes the same lid, so has the same diameter.

                              You can cook pasta with the pasta insert - but without the lid or pressure.

                              It is possible to cook foaming items in the pressure cooker with a few precautions. With somethings you just cook a smaller amount so the foam does not reach the vent (e.g. 1/4 full or less). A bit of oil suppresses foam of some foods. The best option, though, is an insert. For example a 6 cup stainless steel bowl fits nicely on a 1" rack in my qt Fagor.

                              1. re: paulj
                                paulj Apr 10, 2011 12:28 PM

                                Being made in Spain does not guarantee quality. The handle broke off on my Fagor. The problem was with the spot welds on that bracket attached to the pot. Fortunately they sent me a replacement (though I to pay to send the broken in). When I looked several years ago some reviews on Amazon complained of the plastic part of handle being broken in shipping.

                                1. re: paulj
                                  j
                                  juise Apr 10, 2011 12:46 PM

                                  Did you have the Duo? I read the same thing about the handles on those. It seemed to be a pervasive problem.

                                2. re: paulj
                                  e
                                  ellabee Apr 10, 2011 12:38 PM

                                  Thanks, Paul. My cooktop (gas) is small, four burners right up against each other, so 10" is as big as I want to go for most pots.

                                  Paul or anyone who has an eight-quart Fagor: How tall (deep) is it?

                                3. re: ellabee
                                  m
                                  Miss Priss Apr 10, 2011 12:33 PM

                                  I've made all those forbidden foods except cranberries and rhubarb in a Fagor pressure cooker with no problem; and if the need arose, I wouldn't hesitate to try cranberries or rhubarb either. I check the vent pipe and safety mechanisms before use, never fill the cooker more than halfway, and always stay within earshot in case the cooker makes any unusual noises. I'm not advoicating that anyone ignore the manufacturer's instructions; just willing to take risks for fast steel-cut oats!

                                  1. re: ellabee
                                    b
                                    BedazzledLV Apr 10, 2011 01:05 PM

                                    The Futuro comes with the steamer(also a grater, but thats what i have a food processor for LOL) insert to be used when pressure cooking. I recommend if you get the fagor, order the glass lid and pasta insert to turn your pressure cooker into a full functioning stock pot as well.
                                    This website has the 8qt. Duo's dimensions:
                                    http://www.consumersearch.com/pressure-cookers/compare

                                    This website might help you decide which cooker to buy:
                                    http://fastcooking.ca/pressure_cooker...

                                    1. re: BedazzledLV
                                      s
                                      suppertime Apr 11, 2011 03:49 AM

                                      I am still debating the model despite all of the help from the Chow Hounders!!! While the consensus seems to be that the "best" is the KR,a novice like myself has nothing to compare so all of the pressure cookers are probably going to seem to do a great job to me.( I realize that I need to take a step back when a selling point that I am considering is the pasta insert on the Futuro model!!!)You'd think that I would be more interested in the actual features that cooking under pressure bring!
                                      At least with all of the help on this site I have managed to sift through all of the available choices and pretty much narrowed it down to two,but as soon as another brand pops up I am researching again.
                                      Thanks again to everyone who has shared their knowledge.You have probably saved me from rushing out and buying one of the lower priced,lower psi models that would have ended up gathering dust in the back of a cupboard!

                                  2. e
                                    ellabee Apr 10, 2011 12:40 PM

                                    Another question for those who have or have experienced both Fagor and Kuhn-Rikon cookers: Is there a difference in weight, and/or thickness of the encapsulated aluminum base between the two makers?

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: ellabee
                                      n
                                      Ned_Detroit Apr 10, 2011 02:24 PM

                                      I pulled out my digital calipers and measured: Kuhn Rikon 2.5l braiser ~5.0mm, Fagor Futoro ~4.6mm for the aluminum sandwich. The stainless steel body of the KR is also slightly thicker. Both the KR and the Fagor have slightly thinner body metal and a thinner aluminum disc than the told T-Fal unit I recently gave to a friend, that has a nearly 6mm thick aluminum disc! Sadly it has been discontinued.

                                      1. re: Ned_Detroit
                                        e
                                        ellabee Apr 10, 2011 08:57 PM

                                        Thanks for the response, Ned.

                                    2. paulj Apr 10, 2011 01:05 PM

                                      Regardless of the mechanism, you have to pay attention when releasing pressure, and know the pros and cons off different methods. Sometimes natural release is best. That works the same for all brands. Some brands have a valve you can turn or press to release pressure. I've seen Iron Chefs holding a folded towel over the release valve on a KR. Fagor has a knob you can turn, directing a blast of steam away from you. Removing the weight is not recommended. Or with all but electric models you can set the pot in cold water, or carefully run a stream of water over the top to quickly cool the pot and its contents.

                                      The European style spring models might be more fool proof than the American rocker weight models. The question is, are you one of those fools who manages to circumvent normal safety features or not?

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: paulj
                                        s
                                        sueatmo Apr 10, 2011 02:02 PM

                                        I've used both the rocker weight cookers and a more modern spring model, I currently use a fairly old Fagor. I vent my cooker to cool it, or I hold it under a cold water faucet. Or I sometimes let it cool slowly. All methods work. With the rocker type cooker, I could quickly cool a cooker under the faucet, but to vent it, if memory serves, you had to take the rocker off, which meant a scary rocket of steam sent straight up. I believe that you weren't supposed to do that actually. However, for awhile I used a decades-old aluminum Presto that we had retrofitted with a new rocker, which actually did not rock. I can't remember exactly how it worked, but I think it involved a rod that rose, so maybe it was a spring pressure thingy. But with the older cookers, the rocker or equivalent was separate from the cooker. You stuck it onto the pot. The Fagor's pressure regulator is built into the lid of the pot.

                                        And speaking to the issue of finding rockers at the neighborhood hardware store, maybe and maybe not. I got a pressure regulator for the abovementioned decades old aluminum model a number of years ago only after calling all around and being directed to a specialty appliance repair store, and it wasn't close by. Also it was not cheap.

                                        By the way I recently used a really old Revere Ware pressure cooker, that had even less security locking down than I was used to with the old aluminum model. I was shocked at the quaintness and simplicity of the design. I used it without incident, but shoot, I need to buy the kids a new model!

                                        One thing to remember--don't cook on high heat with these. (I used to do this all the time! But don't.) And don't buy a model that can be opened if it is still pressurized.

                                        And you can fill a Fagor up to 2/3 full.

                                        1. re: sueatmo
                                          paulj Apr 10, 2011 02:51 PM

                                          Presto added a lid interlock in the late 1970s.

                                          The Indian Hawkins brand has a unique lid design in which the lid fits inside the rim of the pot. Once it is up to pressure it can't be opened without any extra interlocking mechanism.

                                          1. re: paulj
                                            s
                                            sueatmo Apr 10, 2011 08:25 PM

                                            I guess I'm dating myself with reference to the old fashioned cookers.

                                            In general cookers are improved in the last 40 years.

                                      2. s
                                        sueatmo Jul 30, 2011 08:56 AM

                                        I am finally getting around to buying a new PC for one of my kids' family. I have been quite happy with my older Fagor Splendid, as I have posted previously on this thread. I have read some complaints in the Amazon reviews about this cooker--stuff like handles breaking and other components burning and/or melting. Other reviews come from satisfied users. Before I order and send, I am asking those of you who have purchased the Fagor Splendid in the last few years, if you have been happy with the quality. I am a little dismayed to know that these particular cookers are now made in China. If I decide to pay more for the Futuro, will I get better performance or quality? Is the Futuro made in Spain? Thanks to all PC users out there who take the time to add to the general information. (I am planning to PC a chicken today. I value my Fagor.)

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: sueatmo
                                          paulj Jul 30, 2011 09:37 AM

                                          Assuming the same Fagor management and engineering is responsible for both the Spanish products and the Chinese ones, should it matter where they produce them?

                                          How might one brand or model of PC perform better than another?

                                          I had a handle problem with a Spanish made Elite model - the spot welds broke. If the handle problems worry you, I'd suggest getting a model with stubby handles. I suspect the longer handle is more prone to breaking, whether due to inadequate protection during shipping, or stresses during use.

                                          1. re: paulj
                                            s
                                            sueatmo Jul 30, 2011 03:08 PM

                                            I think the complaints were about the handles, but also about the seal. I haven't had any problems with either on my over 10 year old model. I think the perceived problems with Chinese products is the concern about the use of inferior raw materials or inferior manufacturing processes. I don't think this is an unfounded fear.

                                            1. re: sueatmo
                                              paulj Jul 30, 2011 03:41 PM

                                              But don't you think a company like Fagor would keep close tabs on the manufacturing and products, to make sure everything is according to their specs?

                                        2. e
                                          ellabee Aug 2, 2011 09:39 AM

                                          Update on my pressure cooker choice: I got a Fagor Futuro 6 & 4 quart set, and am well pleased. The key selling point for me was the relatively compact size and shape: short handles, 8"(body) and 9" (lid) diameter, and the fact that the pots nest when stored. On my stovetop and in my cabinets, space is at a premium. Also appealing was the size and soup/boil pot shape of the 4 qt, which I use all the time for non-pressure pasta, blanching, etc. An unexpected but pleasing bonus is that the glass non-pressure lid that comes with the set fits perfectly another European-made pot that I bought without a lid (22 cm).

                                          After cooking with the PC for a while I bought a portable induction unit on which to use it, for reasons of safety, energy savings, and to cut down on heat in the kitchen. Safety was the most urgent consideration; most of the things I used the cooker for (stock, beans) involve at least 20 and up to 45 minutes of pressure, and the burners on the gas cooktop here tend to blow out if there's a gust of air from an opened door, or if another burner is turned on.

                                          Another safety aspect is having much more precise control over the heat level to maintain pressure: although I figured out by trial and error which gas burner setting provides adequate yet not too much pressure with one burner in use, that varied when a second or third burner was turned on, or the air-conditioner was on (strong breeze stoveward).

                                          The induction unit adds convenience to safety with a timer that turns off the power (rather than just buzzing an alert), which is useful since most of my regularly cooked pc items also involve natural pressure release. The net result is that I have to do a lot less hovering over the cooker, freeing me to do other prep and cooking, and to leave the room every now and then.

                                          Huge, grateful shout-out to paulj:
                                          Inspired by your example, I set up the induction unit on an aluminum half-sheet that sits over the rear left burner. This leaves room to use the front right burner while things are cooking away in the PC, and also places the steam-releasing cooker right beneath the vent fan. The difference in the ambient atmosphere is dramatic. When the induction unit's not in use, it fits neatly in a nearby (fairly shallow) drawer. The half-sheet is stored against the backsplash, where it's accessible for use in prep and in unloading the dishwasher. That makes it a valuable multitasker even though it's too big for actual baking use in my 24" wall oven.

                                          Pretty remarkable step forward in cooking power and versatility for $100 (cost of induction unit and half-sheet combined). Thanks very much for posting about it, I doubt I'd have had the idea on my own.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: ellabee
                                            s
                                            suppertime Aug 2, 2011 03:52 PM

                                            I also came to the conclusion that the Fagor 4 and 6 litre pressure cooker combo was the best choice for me.I have thoroughly enjoyed cooking under pressure and found that most things taste better than done traditionally.(I now understand though,why there were many out there who felt that anything under 6 litres was too small.The fill line seems to be reached very quickly so anyone cooking for a large family might want to consider a larger cooker!)

                                            1. re: suppertime
                                              j
                                              Jeri L Aug 2, 2011 05:33 PM

                                              On the other hand, I find that I use the 4 quart far more often than I expected I would. That's why I think the sets are a great idea. Of course, now that I have the 4 and 8, now think I also need a 6!

                                          2. s
                                            skyline Aug 3, 2011 07:27 PM

                                            Kuhn Rikon.

                                            They make two styles of "top" for the pressure release mechanism ... the traditional popup-small-knob style, and the Duromatic. I went with the Duromatic (it's a few dollars more) but after actually using it I realized that 90% of the time I use the natural release and so it really makes little difference to the way I cook.

                                            Basically it comes down to what you think you'll be most comfortable doing if/when you need a "quick" (rather than a "natural") pressure release. With the traditional style you must press down on it with a long spoon, but you can turn the Duromatic top mechanidsm directly with your hand.

                                            The Duromatic top also has two "levels" of pressure release via the top: a lot all at once, or a slower more gradual release.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: skyline
                                              paulj Aug 3, 2011 09:03 PM

                                              My old Presto has a quick pressure release like the traditional KR - it's the lid interlock.

                                              On Iron Chef America I've seen cooks release KR pressure by pressing down on the value with a folded towel.

                                              1. re: paulj
                                                n
                                                Ned_Detroit Aug 4, 2011 08:24 AM

                                                I usually don't even bother with a towel and just use an index finger making sure my arm is clear, the Duromatic's design has a steam diverter that does a very good job of keeping the hot steam away from my hand. The only disadvantage is that unlike the Top models or the Fagor or Fissler models you can't just turn a release knob and walk away to attend to some other emergency like the onions rapidly going from nicely crispy to burnt;)

                                              2. re: skyline
                                                m
                                                Miss Priss Aug 4, 2011 07:45 AM

                                                I agree with the Kuhn-Rikon recommendation. Their cookers are pricey but excellent. Just to clarify: "Duromatic" is Kuhn-Rikon's name for ALL their pressure cookers. The type with the automatic pressure release knob is called the "Top Model."

                                              3. k
                                                KissesFromParis Mar 4, 2012 01:27 AM

                                                T-Fal/Tefal alias SEB has been in the business of pressure cookers since 1954 or so. SEB is synonymous with pressure cookers in France the same way Le Creuset is synonymous with cast iron.
                                                SEB pressure cookers are very safe. They have 3 steam release securities, and it's impossible to open the PC with the pressure inside. They've been in use in tens of millions of french homes. Now, SEB sells a new generation of PC (Nutricook and Acticook) which allows to choose 2 (Acticook) or 4 pressure points between 30 kPa (109°C) and 85 kPa (118°C), allowing to preserve more nutrients. SEB also claims they cook twice as fast as a conventional PC by doing some sort of vacuum. I haven't tried any of those myself but most user feesbacks are very positive in shopping websites. These models are very expensive (one reason I didn't buy this model, the other reason being: too much pastic !) and only sold in Europe I believe.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: KissesFromParis
                                                  m
                                                  Miss Priss Mar 5, 2012 07:39 AM

                                                  Just wanted to note that SEB/Tefal makes quite a few different styles of PC, including the traditional "jiggle-top" type with a clamp-on lid that can, in fact, be opened gradually while the pot is under pressure by unscrewing the knob that controls the clamp. In the instruction manual, SEB even touts this as a security feature, I guess because you can rapidly lower the pressure that way if necessary. Cookers of this type have been used successfully all over the world for decades, but they're very different from the modern SEB/Tefal models.

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