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Giving up and getting a pressure cooker

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I am chalking it up to our crappy water (even after filtering, so it seems) and giving up on trying to rehydrate beans, etc., by soaking, stovetop, and/or slow cooker. I am ready to invest in a good pressure cooker, but I don't want a live grenade on the stove. I am willing to invest heavily *as long as I get the safest model available*. So far, I've been able to surmise that the materials used (go for stainless steel), handles, and valves are all key. It seems like Kuhr Rikon and WMF - both pricy - are the best made. Is there anything that makes one better (read: safer) than the other? I'm still a little scared of these things but willing to give it at try at this point.

Thanks!

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  1. Good luck and please be careful. Many years ago a my boyfriend's Mom wasmaking pea soup in her pressure cooker. We were invitied to dinner that weekend evening. My guy picked me up and we made a few stops before returning to his parent's house. Oh my gosh--the kitchen ceiling , walls, counters, and floor were filled with green pea soup. that darn pressure cooker exploded and spewed that soup everywhere. And, my friend's Mom was a professional cook and had a Master's Degree in Home Economics. Her husband was an engineer.

    "Buyer Beware." But, I am inclined to believe that the newer versions have major safety features that would/could prevent a disastrous event. FoiGras

    10 Replies
    1. re: FoiGras

      "pressure cooker exploded" - a problem with these tales of PC explosions is that they don't explain anything about what happened or why. My guess is that the pea soup clogged the main valve, and the safety plug did it's job, releasing pressure, and shooting a stream of soup to the ceiling. The pot itself probably did not explode or break.

      My 1979 Presto booklet says "Do not cook apple sauce, cranberries, rhubarb, pearl barley, SPLIT PEAS, oatmeal or other cereals, or foods such as noodles, macaroni or spaghetti. These foods tend to foam, froth, and sputter and may block the vent pipe."

      There are multiple threads on either Home Cooking, or Cookware about pressure cookers.

      1. re: paulj

        Thank you for attempting to debunk this crazy "exploding" myth. ITA that what likely happened was the valve got clogged due to over-filling or peas frothing. That will defininately cause an awful mess but is avoidable and isn't the result of product failure. The opposite, in fact. The safety valve did it's job.

        I use a Mirromatic that is at least 30 years old and my mom has a similar PC. We use them all the time and they've never "exploded."

        If I were starting from scratch, sure, I'd probably buy a newer PC but for now, I'm not discarding a perfectly good hunk of metal.

      2. re: FoiGras

        Thanks for the warning. I wouldn't consider one, except that the new safety features are supposed to make a big difference. Just trying to pick the right one. For instance, it seems like Kuhn Rikon and WMF are of similar quality, but - according to what I've read, anyway - KR has more variety of size, but WMF has more safety features. But, WMF cooks at a non-standard PSI of about 11-13, whereas KR reaches the standard (for recipes) 15 psi. I've never used one so I don't know which is the most important quality to go for.

        1. re: MyKitchen

          I have a Fagor. Use it a bunch. Only has a 15 psi setting but dose the job. These systems are build pretty well and are safe, but there are limits and adverse conditions which could cause it to fail. The chance is a very small percentage wise but there is a lot
          of concern for that 1% or rare event. Get one and enjoy the benefits. They are great

          1. re: scubadoo97

            What do you mean by 'cause it to fail'? Fail in what way? When dealing with new comers, those of us with experience should be precise, else they will get wrong ideas about what can or cannot happen.

            1. re: paulj

              Oh, I'm well aware that these things have the potential to explode. The mess would be awful, but most importantly, I don't want anyone to get hurt.

              1. re: MyKitchen

                I use an older (but still modern) pressure cooker with my Santa Rosa Junior College students for more than 10 years with very little instruction. It is basically impossible for the newer pressure cookers to "explode" since you cannot open them once they are under pressure.

                The comment above about the valve getting clogged can happen but the lid will not blow off. Your cooker will hiss steam and could burn on the inside bottom but hopefully before that, you would notice.

                No incidents for me and I have used a pressure cooker thousands of times.

              2. re: paulj

                Like the pea soup which may have cause the explosion mentioned up thread and over filling. I think the chances of a problem are remote. Could it happen if one fails to follow basic safety quide lines? I quess it could happen and could be avoided with an once of common sense

            2. re: MyKitchen

              15 psi is a defacto standard in the USA. The lower pressure is common in Europe. Neither is an indication of quality. Most European models can be operated at the higher pressure if the manufacturer equips it with a different control valve.

              1. re: MyKitchen

                "Thanks for the warning. I wouldn't consider one, except that the new safety features are supposed to make a big difference. Just trying to pick the right one. For instance, it seems like Kuhn Rikon and WMF are of similar quality, but - according to what I've read, anyway - KR has more variety of size, but WMF has more safety features. But, WMF cooks at a non-standard PSI of about 11-13, whereas KR reaches the standard (for recipes) 15 psi. I've never used one so I don't know which is the most important quality to go for."

                I personally own 2 Kuhn Rikon and 2 WMF PerfectPlus pressure cookers. I also own some other lesser pressure cookers including a really cheap ($20) aluminum model that I use car camping at high altitudes.

                Safety paranoia is not really needed with a modern pressure cooker. What you need is a little common sense, not paranoia about a possible exploding pressure cooker. DON'T OVERFILL YOUR PRESSURE COOKER! If your foamy beans would overflow a crock pot or pan on the stove, it would also likely do the same in a pressure cooker only it is sealed up containing the mess until the safety kicks in to release pressure.

                Regarding 15 vs. 12 PSI, I don't understand the big deal. I go between both without issue. If all you have is KR "or" WMF, you don't even have to worry about it since you are cooking in the same pressure cooker at the same pressure all the time.

                The WMF PerfectPlus is my favorite because it is easier to hand wash. There are just fewer nooks and crannies to get stuff into and the lids disassemble in a very easy effortless way. There is nothing wrong with the KR though, parts are a little more expensive and are harder to find when you need them (ever cut a gasket .... yep it happens).

            3. If you're scared, get yourself a copy of Lorna Sass's Pressure Perfect and read the chapter on beans. Two key instructions when cooking beans are to add a tablespoon of oil (keeps the foaming down) and don't fill more than half full. When cooking other things you can fill to about 2/3 full, but with beans keep it less than half. You won't have a problem. Enjoy your pressure cooker, whichever brand you get, and hopefully you'll love it enough to cook more than just beans in it.

              2 Replies
              1. re: AmyH

                I just ordered a Kuhn Rikon and ordered Lorna Sass's vegetarian pressure cooker book to go with it. Very excited to get it! Countdown to delivery...

                Thanks!

                1. re: MyKitchen

                  Congratulations!

                  Enjoy your pressure cooker and don't overfill it! Things cook a lot faster too which is nice when I get home late.

              2. I own a KR and love it. I use it for beans about once a week. There's a valve on the top of the lid that has two red lines on it. I bring it up to pressure just until I see the second red line, then lower the heat and maintain the pressure for the amount of time needed for the particular beans I'm cooking. Before re-reading and referring to the manual, I was allowing the pressure to go beyond the second red line. Hissing could be heard. I didn't understand why I was making extremely mushy (overcooked) beans until I realized that the pressure should be maintained as soon as I see the second red line - NOT when I was hearing hissing. Regardless, I never had a problem. No beans or foam anywhere in my kitchen. Just keep an eye on it and definitely refer to their manual. Not because you should be scared that an explosion will happen, but because you want properly cooked beans!

                3 Replies
                1. re: sherrib

                  Just ordered a KR about 30 seconds ago. Very excited to try it - thanks!

                  1. re: MyKitchen

                    Congratulations. You will love it! It's simple to use and the books that come with it are very good too.

                    1. re: MyKitchen

                      Congrats! Please let us know what you think of it. It took me some getting used to but I wouldn't live without it now. I use it for more than beans - it can make life much easier when trying to get food on the table fast.

                  2. I have owned a KR set for over 10 years and love it. Mine came with 2 "bottoms".a regular pot sie ( tI think 6 quarts) and a frying pan size. I use the latter for some braised meats

                    Good luck.let us know what you think...and you bought the right cookbook!

                    1. I have an Innova I've used for 20 years. It's never been over pressure. As long as you use a modern cooker with a pressure release valve, make sure the exhaust stays clear and don't over heat the pot by leaving it on high it should never go over pressure.

                      Having said that, a lot of the issue with cooking beans has to do with the age of the beans themselves and the strain. I pressure cooked my beans for years but once I moved I found that I could no longer pressure cook them as they would be mush within minutes and even cooking them on the stove they cooked extremely fast. The beans available here are much fresher and a different strain.

                      1. All the modern pressure cookers have about the same safety features, which differs is style and sometimes the pressure valve.

                        Don't be afraid, the new pressure cookers are quite safe as long as you follow the directions, and turn the heat down when the pot gets to pressure. Even if you don't, there is no reason to be afraid. These things CANNOT blow up.

                        My current favorite pressure cookers (I have been teaching people how to use a pressure cooker for the past 16 years) are the Fagor Duo or Chef or the B/R/K Alpha set (in the sizes that you need which is either 8 or 9 inch wide). These Fagor models are made in Spain and the B./R/K is made in Germany.

                        I have never tried a WMF so cannot comment . To me, the Kuhn Rickon (at least those made in Switzerland) are not worth the cost.

                        Good luck with your decision. A pressure cooker will change your cooking life, especially when it comes to cooking beans. There are also so many other things that you can cook which I describe in my new pressure cooking cookbook, The New Fast Food: The Veggie Queen Pressure Cooks Whole Food Meals in Less than 30 Minutes.

                        1. I have a Fagor and love it. It's a set so I have a 4 quart and an 8 quart pot and the pressure top fits both pots so you can cook small or large quantities. It's safe. One must be sure that the escape holes in the lid are not clogged. After each use it's important to make sure the openings are clear. And, when cooking rice or in the example of the pea soup story, too much ingredient and a foaming product will cause the escape holes to clog. Remember to fill only half full when cooking those foods. Doesn't sound right...but necessary!

                          1. I wonder about your water. Have you tried rehydrating them in purchased drinking water? If you can't get a good soak and cook in purchased water (around 89 cents a jug or so) then I'd wonder about your beans, your method or some other thing.

                            However, I have pressure cooked beans for decades, and I've never had an explosion. You do have to follow mfg. directions. I would urge you do to do so. The safest of these seem to me to be the electric ones; they are the most expensive.

                            I use a Fagor. They are pricier than the old fashioned American ones, but less so than the Rikon. You can choose from several sorts, and the price goes up as the features are added on. I have the least expensive Fagor.

                            But I've used old fashioned pcs too. I like the Fagor the best, by far. Find a good book on using a PC, and follow the mfg directions, and any kind should be fine for you.

                            If I can use a PC, you can too.

                            1. I use a pressure cooker regularly to cook pintos for refried beans without any problem. As to soaking, I used to soak overnight; it takes while. Then cook and it took more time. I half expected a miracle with soaking but realized it was not going to happen. So years ago, I pc'd the beans with no problem at all. I was a little worried about foaming and such but to date, no problems. I have used Mirro Matics, an Ultrex by Inova, and now have a Duromatic by Kuhn Rikon. All you have to remember is when the pc reaches the desired pressure, turn down the heat to maintain the pressure. Keep an eye on it till you get used to the temp setting on your stove for the item and quantity of liquid in your pc. I generally bring the liquid contents up to a quick boil, wipe the rim, seat the lid and as soon as it reaches the desired pressure reduce to a simmer. I find a low simmer work best. And the beans are done in about an hour. I still soak for about 10 minutes, to remove grit and loose skins and such but that it all. And I never go beyond the MAX fill line. Never! I also do stews, pot roast, chicken and such in the pc. All with good results.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: dcrb

                                I soak too. I like to soak for an hour or two. I can't get the beans evenly cooked without soaking. But using the PC really makes nice beans.

                                While in temporary quarters, I have few pans and no PC. I made blackeyed peas, which aren't as long cooking as most beans. I soaked for most of the day and then cooked them. They didn't get as tender as with a PC, although still good. PC is a time saver for beans, for sure.

                                1. re: sueatmo

                                  sueatmo,

                                  I've not really had a problem with the even cooking. I put a hamhock in with the pintos when cooking for a tad different flavor. After cooking, I pull most of the liquid and maybe 1/4 of the neans and start "mashing" with a stick blender adding liquid as necessary till I get the consistency I like. Then add the remainder of the beans. Served with homemade enchilada, tacos, whatever. The broth is saved for use as a soup stock, like pea soup since it already has the smokey ham flavor.

                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                    And I never soak blackeyed peas. Just rinse, bring them to a boil with enough water to cover by and inch or so in the dutch oven with sauteed bacon, onion and garlic, throw in a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme, cover and put them in a 325 oven for 90 minutes. They are so good. I pressure cook other beans but not black eyed peas. Never tried it.

                                    1. re: Cam14

                                      I've pressured blackeyed peas, but you don't do it for long. I like the way time in the cooker softens them. I would ordinarily never use the oven in the summer for any thing, but summer in the PNW has been quite cool. I would still prefer to soak then cook. I think it took about 1/2 hour on the stovetop.

                                      One thing--the stove I am using doesn't heat up as fast as my former stove. Everything takes a little longer. So I have had to adapt. And--I don't want to dirty the oven. So I am really careful what I put in there. But I think your method of cooking blackeyed peas is very intriguing. I love blackeyed peas, actually.

                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                        It's not all my method. I found it online, thekitchn.com, I think. It makes good black eyed peas! They suggest cooking other beans that way, without soaking. Just can't bring myself to not soak other types of beans.

                                2. my grandmother, my mom, and i have been using pressure cookers - obviously for generations. None of us have ever had one explode. The older cookers had instructions SPECIFICALLY about/against split pea soup. If someone ignores directions on almost anything they can have problems. There is no reason to 'fear' a pressure cooker.

                                  1. I have been using my Presto pressure cooker since 1971. It is a stove-top model. I have heard horror stories about pressure cooker explosions and never could figure out how it happened because while it is true that my pressure cooker cooks under "pressure," that "pressure" is CONSTANTLY being released. When you see the weight slowly jiggling, and hear the the soft hiss of moisture escaping, that is the pressure being released as it should be. When you do NOT see and hear those cues, your pressure cooker has gone dry. Either the heat was too high, or you put in less than the recommended amount of water or you have been cooking too long. Burn, yes, that is what will happen when the cooker goes dry. But how one "explodes" is beyond me UNLESS it is overfilled (beyond the manufacturer's recommended capacity) and the contents plug up the release VALVES. Because there are 2: the jiggling weight allows steam to escape around it, and there is also a backup pressure release valve designed to "blow" if something goes wrong. I wouldn't go off and leave it totally unattended for long periods of time, just in case moisture does burn off more quickly than anticipated...but "blow up"? I just am not sure how that happens....

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: CCCate

                                      Does you 1971 one have a lid interlock? We got to for wedding presents around 1976. One just has the overpressure button. The other an added knob in the lid that rises under pressure, and prevents opening the lid under pressure. It looks like an add on, but it is effective.

                                      I still use that old Presto, though my newer Fargo has the advantage of being stainless steel which I can use on my induction burner, and being 6 qt. Still I miss the reassuring hiss of the jiggling weight. Being attuned to this, it is easy to judge the status of the cooker from else where in the house.

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        I have a Presto from the 70s, and it has never had the slightest incident ,including "exploding". I never fill it much more than halfway though, and it has a rubber button that can pop out if pressure gets too high. That being said, it was given me by my MIL with a funny story about Aunt Sophie that involved food ending up on the ceiling. Her pressure cooker (maybe the 40s or 50s) didn't have the safety valve I guess.

                                        1. re: coll

                                          Food on the ceiling might have come from the safety vale. If that pops under pressure, it could send a stream of food skyward. Supposedly an advantage of European models like the Fagor is that the 'safety valve' consists of a gap in the lid rim, which allows the main gasket to bulge out. With that any escaping steam is sent off to the side, rather than up.

                                          I've never been around a Presto when that rubber plug blew out. I have had steam and condensation escape from the rim of my Fagor.

                                          1. re: paulj

                                            MIL famously (in her family) exploded potatoes which ended up on the ceiling. However, she opened the cooker before it cooled. You can't do that with newer cookers. They will not open unless the pressure has come down.

                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                              Even with the lid interlock on the Presto, I always remove the weight before opening the lid. Same goes for my small Hawkins, which has a very different style of lid.

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                I did indeed get chicken stock all over the ceiling once, when the safety plug blew out. They need to be replaced if you can see moisture around the plug when you are using it. . Mine has a metal plug, but some are rubber. I think mine is a Presto, from the early 80's.

                                    2. Took my pressure cooker to the hardware store to get a new gasket. They only had gaskets for
                                      a Mirrow and a presto. She said they were the only kind they could get.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: paul balbin

                                        I'm not surprised. US hardware stores will carry parts for the most popular US brands, if any at all. In my experience 'farm and fleet' hardware stores are more likely to have these than urban ones.

                                        Last time I got replacement gaskets for my Presto, I ordered them online, with substantial shipping charges. For European models, online is about the only option (unless some fancy kitchen store has them).

                                        Replacement gaskets is a reason not to go with an obscure brand, even if the initial price is great.

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          Kuhn Rikon gaskets are pricey (~$15) and shipping is expensive too.

                                        2. re: paul balbin

                                          http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/produ...

                                          You didn't specify what sort of PC you have, but here is a source for Fagor gaskets.