Will a used pressure cooker be reliable?
After reading about
easy-peel soft boiled eggs http://www.hippressurecooking.com/201...
15-minute beans http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content...
and cooking frozen chicken in 25 minutes http://barbarabakes.com/2011/06/press...
My desire for a pressure cooker has officially outweighed my resolve not to clutter up my kitchen. I was looking on Amazon, but it seems like the sort of thing I might find cheap in Value Village or Goodwill. Has anyone bought a used one? Any advice?
I have never purchased a used pressure cooker. Always new. Here is my reasoning. All pressure cookers have seals or a gasket where the lid attaches to the pan. The seal/gasket is critical.
Some have safety devices such as a blow out plug in the event too much pressure builds up and the regulator cannot release it fast enough.
Those two facts alone, not counting the reason someone may have gotten rid of theirs, keeps me from buying used. Regular cookware no problem Also models change over time and if you need a replacement part to get it operational and safe, the part might not be available. For me and my family, I buy new. Current model is a Duromatic. We have had Ultrex, and 2 MirroMatics, All stovetop models. I have no experience with electronic models, although I am considering the Cuisinart 6 quart from Lowe's for $99.00.
jvanderh - Yes, we do saute in it. Onions, carrots, celery, etc. Brown the meat to develop a good fond, then add the liquid and bring up to pressure. It is basically like a stock pot or deep saute pan with pressure capability. So yes, you can pretty much do it it what you would do in a skillet or saute pan or sauce pot. Pretty versatile.
I do pintos for refried beans. Rinse (no soaking) and into the pot. One smoked ham hock/shank, liquid and 15 lbs of pressure for 50 minutes. Done.
I pretty much just experiment and have done so for nearly 40 years. If there have been any failures it has been underestimating a cooking time. Easy enough to fix.
Hope this helps.
If replacement parts are readily available for the model you are looking at then I don't see the problem with buying used. Even new ones can need gaskets or over pressure plugs replaced over time.
I buy used items as much as possible because I like recycling and I'm cheap. But I don't recommend buying a used pressure cooker. It might not work, which is the best bad outcome, or it might explode, which you do NOT want.
I read the advice at Miss Vickie's pressure cooker website (an excellent resource!) to not buy a used PC. Then I found some Fissler Blue Points on sale on Ebay and just had to get them. One set was new and was perfect. The other was an "opened box special". It looked perfect, but had a pinprick hole in the main valve seal and wouldn't build up to full pressure. Fissler was great about honoring the warranty, but it was a hassle waiting for it to get fixed. I won't buy a used PC again.
The modern PCs have many more safety features than the old-fashioned ones you're likely to find at the thrift store. If you don't want to spend a lot of money for a PC, Fagor makes some decent ones; sometimes Costco has them on sale. If you find you love pressure cooking, you can buy some better quality Kuhn Rikon or Fissler PCs down the road. Miss Vickie's website has lots of information about the different types and how to use them.
If the used PC has no visible damage and has a lid interlock, it should be safe to buy. I'm thinking in particular of a Presto from around 1980 or newer. But it would be a good idea to buy a new gasket and over-pressure plug. And make sure you can see through the main vent hole.
A big advantage to Presto (and a few other American brands) is that replacement gaskets are readily available, online or in some stores.
I'd stay away from an off brand for which replacement gaskets might be hard to find.
Presto or Mirro replacement parts are readily available. I would not hesitate to buy one of those used. As a matter of fact, I did buy a used one not long ago, but haven't used it yet--it needs a new gasket. I would stay away from ancient ones--they do not have the overpressure plugs. An overpressure plug is made of metal or rubber--if the temp gets too high, it pops out and relieves pressure before the pot explodes. An interlocking lid fits on in one position, and slides to lock.
My old Mirros are probably 30 years old, work like a charm, and will certainly outlast me. I have replaced the gaskets 3 or 4 times, and the plug once. I have a large canner and a smaller canner/cooker. (Canners must be big enough for 3 quart jars--recipes for canning consider the time it takes to heat up the canner--smaller cookers heat up too quickly, and your food might not be safe.)
I have always used a PC with a weight, not the gauge ones, but new gauges are available as well. Gauges should be checked yearly, whether old or new--usually the County Extension office has a tester.
I've bought several preowned stovetop pressure cookers on eBay and Craigslist and have never had any hesitation about using them, but a couple of them did turn out, when tested, to need replacement parts in order to function properly. So if you aren't already familiar with how pressure cookers work, it may be best to start with a new one. As other have noted, Fagor makes some very reasonably priced models that are easy to operate.
re: Sid Post
Does your WMF get up to full 15psi pressure? I had read that they didn't. They look like great pressure cookers.
15psi (pounds per square inch) is the standard in the USA; most pressure cooker cookbooks base the cooking times on 15psi. Extra time has to be added to the recipes if the cooker doesn't reach 15psi.
I'm loving my pressure cookers. Last night I made spagetti squash in 20 minutes from start to finish!