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Apr 8, 2011 03:59 AM

Pressure cookers- which brand and model should I buy?

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?

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  1. 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. 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

        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. 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. 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

            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

              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

                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. 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

              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

                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

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

                  1. re: suppertime

                    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

                      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

                    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.