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Giving up and getting a pressure cooker

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.