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Dec 18, 2012 11:01 PM

weird smell from pressure cooker

I purchased a low cost, 6qt fagor pressure cooker primarily to make quick stocks and experiment with some high-pressure steaming recipes. Never used one before.

All my foods come out smelling very strange; thus far I have made duck, turkey, chicken, and beef stock, several steamed "breads", some braised greens, and a couple different curries - all have that weird smell. It's like a "brown" maybe "caramelized" scent. Never smelled it before, so difficult to characterize. It's not a burnt scent. I was surprised that the scent does not appear to impact the taste - making this an even more curious phenomenon.

I washed the unit very thoroughly when I purchased it, and it's been through the dishwasher several times. Would this be a function of high pressure cooking that I'll find in other pressure cookers, or possibly something wrong with mine? Initially I thought it could be the gasket (it does retain the scent for a few days), but that goes into the dishwasher as well.

Thanks for your time.

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  1. Steamed bread? Is that like steamed buns? I thought about making my steamed buns in a pressure cooker, but at the end I didn't.

    I know, in theory, that pressure cooking can preserve a slightly difference smell/taste profile than regular cooking because the more volatile compounds can be preserved in pressure cooking. However, the difference is should be subtle.

    I was thinking about the gasket as a possible explanation, but that too I think to be "possible, but improbable".

    What I would do is to use your Fagor as a regular non-pressure cooker and see if the smell persists.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      We have a food called "knedla" which is similar to Bao, Dumplings, Manapuas, or sticky buns, but not as sweet. Simply flour, water, egg, yeast. Sometimes we add stale bread. A family member has intolerances to gluten and eggs, so for fun, I was working on a variation using non wheat flours and various other substitutes. What I found: it took well over 2 hours to fully "cook" the variations in steam, so that was the impetus for purchasing a pressure cooker. See attached results - none were good. But, addressing another contribution below, you can see the steam actually caramelized some of the carbs in one of the flours...

      1. re: jedovaty

        This is so awesome. Thank you for sharing.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          PS: I see my explanation wasn't quite as clear as it could be: regular steaming took too long. Pressure cooker was done in about 20 minutes. Any longer, and the "bread" caramelizes :) They weren't very good, sadly.

          1. re: jedovaty

            <Pressure cooker was done in about 20 minutes. >

            Yeah, I did use my pressure cooking for steam buns too. I was thinking exactly what you were thinking too because pressure steaming is done at higher temperature, just like pressure cooking. I actually did it once, but find it inconvenient. In my case, I usually steam a whole array of bun/bread, and pressure steaming cannot handle my whole batch, so I would have to do it a few times in in separate batches, which actually took longer than doing them on a stack basket at regular pressure in one setting.


    2. Pressure cook one cup white vinegar and one cup water for 20 minutes, natural overnight release.

      Rinse everything out in the morning.

      That should take care of it.



      1 Reply
      1. re: pazzaglia

        I believe this worked - sorta maybe not sure.

        I had planned on this after reading your post, however, meantime I had to make one more soup experiment. Into this I accidentally poured about 1/4 cup vinegar instead of 1 Tablespoon...

        Although I feel that did the trick, I'm wondering if there was some added maillard or carmel smells; I usually put the meat on the bottom, this time around I added veggies first then the meat, so they wouldn't have "stuck" to the bottom. Eh, probably not the problem - likely the vinegar did the trick. Cool.

      2. Hmmm. I can't say I've noticed such a thing in my pressure cooker. I love pazzaglia's advice.

        I know that it's possible to caramelize in a pressure cooker despite the water. Normally, water keeps the temperature of a braised or steamed food below caramelization temperatures. However, under pressure it is possible to caramelize in very moist environments. Perhaps you are picking up on that subtle difference? If you are, you have a much more sensitive and attuned palate and nose than I have!

        1. I notice the same thing when making soups. i don't like the smell at all, and can't really describe it. But it's why I never use it anymore and just go with a good old fashioned conventional pot.

          1. The silicone gasket is the problem. It really picks up odors very easily. I run my gaskets through the dishwasher after each use. Yes gaskets in the plural. I have found when making something like a pot roast or stew where you would cook the meat first and then add the vegetables, the gasket softens and you don't get a good seal. So when it is time to add the rest of the ingredients I switch to a fresh gasket.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Candy

              That's really interesting. I find the complete opposite! I'll occasionally get a poor seal to start cooking when it's cold in the house. Once some heat is generated, the seal is much easier.

              My gasket can hang onto odors, too, but I don't really get the same thing that the OP is complaining of. Perhaps I'm interpreting the brown or caramelized scent incorrectly, thought.