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Oct 26, 2012 10:30 PM

what is pressure cooker "cooking time"?

Okay, so I decided it finally was time to use my 10-year (?) new Fagor pressure cooker.

The pressure cooking process apears to be:
1. Put in your ingredients, close the lid, and turn on the heat.
2. At some point, the contents will begin to boil, and steam will visibly escape.
3. Turn off the heat.

All the Fagor recipes very helpfully refer to "cooking time," which is never explained. Or a recipe will say "Close and cook for 3-4 minutes."

I know what "cooking time" is in a microwave, or when I'm baking or grilling or sauteing.

But what is it in the process above? Is "cooking time" how long I watch the steam blow out of the hole in Step 2? Or how long I wait after turning off the heat?


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  1. I have an old fashioned pressure cooker with the vent that rocks on the top. For cooking time, I interpret that as the time the vent is rocking at pressure. I don't turn the heat off when the cooker comes to pressure, I turn it down so the vent rocks slowly. For example, dry pinto beans are cooked at pressure for 40 minutes. Potatoes, 8 minutes.

    Hope this helps.

    1. You count cooking time from the time the pc has come to pressure -- the little steam valve that indicates it's sealed pops up, and steam starts to hiss out of the little vent.

      Out of curiousity, what are you cooking that takes only 3-4 minutes at pressure? It takes 10 minutes for mine to come to pressure - I'd think it would be faster to just cook it and not fiddle with the pressure cooker!

      3 Replies
      1. re: sunshine842

        Thanks for the explanation. Do I turn down the heat (somewhat) once steam begins to escape - just enough to keep it steaming?

        I just cooked a daal (lentil) dish that required only one minute at pressure. Perhaps not much time saved, but the simplicity is appealing. With meat the time difference will be larger, I'm told.

        1. re: fadista

          Yes, you turn the heat down -- that's one of the nice things about a pressure cooker -- it does its job at comparatively low heat, too!

          Yes, with meat and beans, the time difference is substantial -- dishes that I'd normally simmer for 2-3 hours are ready to eat in about an hour.

          1. re: fadista

            Just to emphasize one of pazzaglia's points (because Fagor's own instructions about this are confusing): The yellow button will pop up BEFORE full (high) pressure is reached. You'll know the cooker has reached the correct pressure when (a) the valve emits a full, steady stream of steam and (b) the yellow button strongly resists being pushed down. You can then turn the heat down to low. Just make sure that you still see wisps of steam exiting the valve. If you think the pressure may have dropped too far, test it by pushing the yellow button. If it yields, just turn the heat up again for a bit.

        2. In pressure cookery, "cooking time" or "pressure cooking time" is counted when the pressure cooker has reached pressure. For Fagor pressure cookers, the little signal in the handle needs to pop up, and thin wisp of vapor needs to exit the valve. Fagor's pressure signals tend to give a false positive, so you may want to touch it lightly to see if it falls back down. Then, as Sunshine mentioned, once you are assured the pressure cooker has reached pressure you lower the heat to the minimum the pressure cooker needs to maintain pressure and start the timer.

          Although starting from a "cold cooker" it can take up to 10 minutes to reach pressure, if you're already sauteing ingredients and the pressure cooker is pre-heated it will only take 5 minutes or less for it to reach pressure.

          I don't know what kind of dal your are making - each legume has its own cooking time. For example a Chana Dal would need to boil for about 40 minutes until tender - while in the pressure cooker it only needs about 10 minutes pressure cooking time (if you were staring with a cold cooker that would be 20 minutes total) - so I would say that 50% faster is a significant time savings!

          Either way, you should refer to your pressure cooker manual. I haven't seen Fagor manuals from 10 years ago, but the recent ones are quite detailed and very helpful.

          You can find them here, in the Fagor Folder:



          1 Reply
          1. re: pazzaglia

            Very helpful - thanks! I'm getting quite excited about the pressure cookery ahead of me. (I think this will suit my lifestyle better than the planning-7-hours-ahead that is slow cooking.)

          2. You have gotten great advice here. If you are a modern cook with little time and don't like to plan in advance, then t the rpressure cooker is the perfect kitchen tool for you."

            I do a lot o batch cooking and store the leftovers in my freezer, saving time and money. It means that I only need to cook about half as often as I used to BPC (before pressure cooking which has been more than 16 years now). MY food tastes great.

            Happy to welcome you to the pressure cooking camp. I hope that your PC provides many incredible meals.