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Mar 5, 2013 08:31 PM

Frustrated...Fagor Duo Pressure cooker and things are not going well

So I've got my new pressure cooker after years of using a Lagostina which operated at lower pressure. Interestingly, I would bring it up to heat on high and then lower the burner to low, and I found that standard cooking times suggested in pressure cooker cookbooks seemed to work pretty well. I had a Magefesa for a while too and it seemed to function similarly, with no significant learning curve.

Now I've got the Duo and I'm finding that generally everything is overcooking. Fagor tells me that I'm supposed to start things on temperature 6 then lower my heat and start timing BEFORE the steam is released (as per the manual) then lower my heat to 2 on my glass electric stove. It's impractical to watch the pot for 7-10 minutes, in my opinion (especially while watching a baby at the same time), but I tried once...and that time I realized at the end of my cooking time that the pressure hadn't even been maintained. I did a cold water pressure release without adding extra time for my chicken, and a food thermometer STILL registered over 200 degrees.
I also have a mix of israeli couscous, italian orzo pasta, baby garbanzo beans and Red quinoa that normally simmers for 10 minutes iwithout the pressure cooker then stands for 8. I took the formula suggested on some sites of using 1/3 of the cooking time, so 3 minutes followed by a quick release. I used the amount of water suggested. And much of the mix was stuck onto the bottom of the pot when I opened the pot (cold water release).

I followed another site's suggestion about finding the lowest setting you can maintain pressure. I tested this after the first little burst of steam. The pin will stay up for 5 minutes with a heat setting of 1 or low, but there is no visible steam, which the manual says is an issue (and the Fagor customer support says I should use #2).

So do I need to cook on the my pressure cooker's low pressure setting? Or use low or 1 instead of 2 as my heat setting to maintain pressure?

I'm so frustrated. Last week I pulled out my old pressure cooker (which was waiting for garbage day) out of the garage, as even though it has now severely warped, and the aluminum has pulled away from the stainless steel, it is way more reliable at a pressure setting of 8 rather than 15.

Any advice? I really hope this isn't my punishment for not going with the Futuro or the Kuhn Rikon...


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  1. That pasta mix does not sound like a good PC application. The time savings are not significant. Based on my limited experience with rice, I'm not surprised with the sticking.

    I have had success with cooking a risotto in a PC. On opening the rice appears to have stuck, but when stirred becomes a nice creamy risotto.

    Detecting when a Fagor is up to pressure is trickier than with a jiggling weight PC. Basically you start it with a good boil, enough to produce steam. When the yellow button rises, it means pressure is starting to build and lid is locked. In theory you want to lower heat when it is at full pressure, but before the safety seal bulges and releases steam. The does seem to be a fine line between too little heat (letting the knob drop) and too much heat.

    As to timings, the best bet is to start with recipies from the manufacturer's booklet, and only with some experience, branch out and adapt your own.

    10 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      Thanks-I did wonder if that mix was a bad idea, but it just seemed less expensive than ruining meat...

      1. re: sandi114

        If you don't want to start with meat, try a vegetable that you can turn into a cream soup. Potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, etc. You just want them to be soft so you can puree them. That they are swimming is fine. Stock from a left over chicken carcass is also a good start.

        1. re: paulj

          I have one carcass in freezer and hoped to try stock. Any idea how much H20 and approximate cook time? Thx!

          1. re: sandi114

            I use enough water to roughly cover the carcass (when broken up). Typically I end up with a quart of stock.

            Time is not critical; about an hour (regular chicken stock recipes specify a couple of hours). This a situation where the 1/3 time makes most sense.

            1. re: sandi114

              <I have one carcass in freezer and hoped to try stock>

              Paul knows me, so I am sure he won't mind if I jump in. I am sure everyone's answers are a bit different because chicken can be different in size. Also, if your chicken caracss an intact chicken? Or is it a deboned chicken carcass (e.g. most of the meat has been removed) ?

              I usually do my stock from deboned chicken carcass, but I often use pork and beef along to make my version of stock.

              Anyway, if you are just doing a stock from a deboned chicken, then I said about 3 quarts for 1.5 hour in a pressure cooker? That is just my preference.

              Do you add onions and stuffs for your stock?

              P.S.: Just read Paul's reply. See the two of us prefer different amount of water. My is more diluted, and his is more concentrated.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                I only ever tried stock once in my pc and threw it out as it was way too diluted and I put in too much peppercorn. I intend to add some onion and carrot for sure. It is only bones. Thx to you and Paul:)

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  In an open pot starting with the water several inches above the solids allows for a lot of reduction. There's none of that in a PC. So I don't see a need to do more than barely cover the solids.

                  I judge the strength of my stock by how well it jells when cold. For chicken, a loose jello is about right.

                  1. re: paulj

                    <So I don't see a need to do more than barely cover the solids.>

                    :) It takes me more than a 1 quart to cover a chicken carcass. Maybe because you chopped up the carcass first.

            2. re: sandi114

              You could try cooking the pasta/grain mix (with water) in a bowl set on a trivet inside the PC, with an additional cup or so of water under the trivet. The mix will absorb some of the steam from the water below it, so it'll take a little experimentation to figure out how much water you need in the bowl itself, but at least you won't end up with a mess on the bottom of the pot. This technique has worked well for me with rice, steel-cut oats, and other grains that may scorch if put directly into the cooker.

              1. re: Miss Priss

                I am excited to give this a try as a way to get better acquainted with my duo

          2. I find pressure cookers work best for traditionally long and slow cooking. It can really cut down a 4-5 hours cook to less than 1.5-2 hours. On the other hand, it is less worthwhile to reduce a 30 minutes cook to a 10-15 minutes cook, even less for a 10 minutes application to go down to 3 minutes. It is also highly variable for short term cooking because a minute or two off, you will mess up the meal.

            <<Fagor tells me that I'm supposed to start things on temperature 6 then lower my heat and start timing BEFORE the steam is released (as per the manual) then lower my heat to 2 on my glass electric stove. It's impractical to watch the pot for 7-10 minutes,>>

            You don't have to stand in front of the pressure cooker, but you should be around. As the steam starts to escape, it will make some sounds, so you will hear it as long as you are around.

            <simmers for 10 minutes iwithout the pressure cooker then stands for 8.>

            See, What a 10 minute cook, I find the pressure cooker not to be my optimal tool, but your preference may be different.

            <The pin will stay up for 5 minutes with a heat setting of 1 or low, but there is no visible steam, which the manual says is an issue>

            Yes, the pin is at a lower pressure setting than the two valve settings. My Fagor has two pressure settings: 8 and 15 psi. You may have one, in which case it will be 15 psi. The pin is anything above atmosphere, probably like 1-2 psi. So technically speaking, you are also doing a pressure cooking with the pin up without steam release, but you are doing a very mild pressure cooking.

            <Or use low or 1 instead of 2 as my heat setting to maintain pressure?>

            In all honesty, this is something you have to figure on your own. Everyone's heat setting is different. The heat setting should also change depending the amount of food you have in your cooker too.

            <it is way more reliable at a pressure setting of 8 rather than 15.>

            I think it is just something you are more comfortable with. In time you will learn how to use your Fagor. There is set number to put in. One has to figure it out on one's own term.

            <my punishment for not going with the Futuro or the Kuhn Rikon...>

            I am pretty sure that you will also have a learning curve for any other new pressure cooker.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Thx for making me feel better an out my choice:)

            2. Sandi, I'm a pressure cooker expert and what your are experiencing is not unusual.

              First, let's talk about how you could cook things in your lower pressure cooker to cook a the same times written for high pressure. Most foods (like rice, grains and vegetables) need very few time adjustments. Meats and legumes, which are very dense will differ greatly. For example soaked chickpeas at 9psi (your old Lagostina) take about 20 minutes to be tender but at 15 psi (your new Fagor) they only need 13.

              Now let's talk about Fagor's tricky pressure signal that is driving you nuts. The signal on the Duo (and Futuro has the same signal) has a tendency to give a "false positive". That means that the little yellow button will rise when the cooker is STARTING to reach pressure not when it has REACHED it. Turning down the heat at this point, as you've seen will make it difficult for the cooker to maintain the little pressure it has achieved.

              There is a very simple way to know for sure.

              While bringing the cooker up to pressure simply touch the yellow signal. If it falls down or feels "springy" the cooker has not yet reached full pressure. If, instead, it feels solid you can safely turn down the heat.

              If you don't turn down the heat the cooker will go into over-pressure. That means it will release lots of steam and in the meanwhile cook the food at 17 or even 18 psi. It's not a good idea to run a pressure cooker this way since the over-pressure release is one of the safety features and running this way could risk food getting stuck in the valve - which as you know can be a very dangerous situation.

              Finally use the cooking times in the pressure cooker manual, or a trusty online source (wink), so you can get used to this much more powerful pressure cooker!



              4 Replies
              1. re: pazzaglia

                The tip re: springy yellow signal is very helpful thx!
                Is there some sound with steam before hitting over pressure?

                1. re: sandi114

                  Sandi, I'm sorry to have missed your question - there were so many replies to this topic I stopped following it. I have answered you privately though facebook DM, but will post that bit here-- in case anyone else is having a similar problem with their cooker gets this far!!

                  "When the cooker reaches pressure (the yellow button feels firm) turn down the heat to low or very low. While the Duo is at pressure there should be a very light wisp of vapor (so light maybe you can't see it across the kitchen but you can see if you look hard) and a soft "ssssss" sound . If there is a wide, visible stream of vapor and a forceful "SHHHHHHHHH!" sound the heat is too high.

                  I recommend practicing with 4 cups of water in the cooker until you get the hang of it so there is less stress to get dinner on the table - and no more disappointments of burned dinner!"

                  Let me know if there is anything more that I can do to help you get started with pressure cooking.



                  1. re: pazzaglia


                    Thanks so much for the elaborations!

                    I will keep plugging away (but after forgetting to add water once this week with my old p/c, and forgetting to switch to number 2 after releasing pressure on the Fagor this week, both causing serious scorching, I'm afraid that I might need to have my PC license removed until my 10 month old is a little older and most of my brain cells return! I sure hope they return! ) Going back to water sounds like a good idea til I can do this in my sleep.

                    So, I guess I'm wondering two things:

                    1) Is there a good quality pressure cooker that makes noise when it hits pressure like my old jiggle top (and even better if the lid locks automatically, has release on a different place so I don't mess up on the dial setting-a safe pressure release is important too,even if I do have to stand there). I'm guessing the Futuro isn't very different having read a review of someone I trust ;)

                    2)My stove has heat settings Very Low, Low, 1-8, high and very high. With my Fagor Duo, anything lower than 2 to maintain pressure and I won't see steam visibly coming out (as per manual's suggestion), but the pin will stay up for 5 minutes with a few cups of H20 on 1 or low-but not on very low. So just want to confirm if you mean low or very low with my stovetop the visible steam matter, or just keeping the pin up?
                    Thanks so much!!


                    1. re: sandi114

                      Yes, there is a good quality cooker that makes noise and I'm reviewing it now - will post it online in about 3 weeks (the reviews are vetted by the manufacturers for accuracy so it takes time), but I can give the short version:

                      WMF has a pressure cooker that makes a sound when it has reached high pressure. It starts out as a soft delicate, harmonic sound and then builds up to a very loud toot (think oncoming train). It really makes you want to jump into action! At that point, you can release a little pressure (if the tooting annoys you) and then lower the heat. Figuring out how much heat is EASY because if it is too high it starts to sound again. It will take a few times to figure out (even for this expert) - with lots of tooting- but once you've figure out the right heat setting it will stay there, cooking quietly.

                      Oh, and you can remove the handle with one button and stick the lid and base in the dishwasher (love!)

                      The WMF it is not a "15psi" cooker but.. guess what?!? All "15 psi" cookers are actually 14.5 psi (1 bar) their pressure is rounded up! The WMF is actually 13.8psi - so very little TRUE difference between them and, best of all, NO TIME ADJUSTMENTS!!

                      BUT, you will have to "lock" the lid. : (

                      Now back to getting your Fagor working. Forget what customer service said. Looking for steam is only confusing you since its difficult to explain HOW MUCH steam is TOO much and how much is just right. The pin is the true indicator of building and maintaining pressure.

                      If the yellow pin remains up and stiff (not springy) at 5 minutes on setting 2 try it 2 cups of water 10 or 15 minutes. 5 minutes is not really long enough to see if the cooker is truly maintaining pressure so you may see the pin starting to get "springy again" - if that is the case your cooker may actually need 2.5 or 3 to maintain pressure.

                      Just come back to the cooker during the test and tap on the yellow signal to make sure everything is where it should be and you've got it!

                      Fagor has a new model - The Chef - that according to the manual should solve ALL of those pin and knowing when its at pressure problems. Since I haven't used it myself I cannot confirm if it actually works as written.



              2. I agree with Pazzaglia regarding making sure that there is truly pressure. I have been using Fagor cookers for the 17 years in which I have been teaching. I do not wait for any puffs of steam, I just make sure that the pot is at pressure, start timing and lower the heat.
                I have a cookbook that lists times which are accurate. And believe it or not, I cook on an electric stove.

                You might want o develop a relationship with your cooker. I tell people to start out with water or stock as it lets you and the cooker learn together and you cannot burn anything.

                I use the Fagor Duo, Futuro and Chef and they all work just fine.

                My best advice; keep working with your cooker, good instructions and try again.

                1. I appreciate all the replies and probably have more questions but will need to write back when I have more time!

                  Short question:
                  Is there a risk in waiting to hear steam if I am not cooking frothy stuff? I really can't watch my 9 month old and the pot at the same time and think that relying on something visual is likely to be a disaster for me (makes me think I need a different p/c). This was generally what I was doing with the one exception. And would hate to do anything risky..

                  Veggie queen, my electric stove settings are ultra low, low, 1-8, high and ultra high. Do you have similar #'s on your electric? Do you use 1 or 2 burner method? Do you mind telling me what number you start on/lower to?

                  Love the rice idea, thank you

                  Ultimately, was looking for something that would tell me that I've got my heat settings right, which is why I was playing with rice-the pantry was kind of bare and it's cheap if I ruin it :)

                  All tips are very welcome and I probably have a few more questions coming!

                  Thanks so much!

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: sandi114

                    <my punishment for not going with the Futuro or the Kuhn Rikon...>

                    Depending how close you are and how good your hearing is, I usually just turn on the pressure cooker at high heat setting and start doing other things, but I always stay close which I can both hear and see.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      I would prefer to come to pressure on high but wondered if I should obey the manual which says not to with an electric stove. I'm within 5 feet but have to watch baby more closely than the pc so need to rely on my hearing too


                      1. re: sandi114

                        < I'm within 5 feet but have to watch baby more closely than the pc so need to rely on my hearing too>

                        I do use high heat setting to bring the pot to pressure. I am not entirely sure why the manual says no for electric stoves. The only reason I can think of now is that most electric coil stoves have a rather slow response. So even if you dial the heat setting down, it will still be on high for a minute or two. This is relatively easy to get around.

                        < I'm within 5 feet but have to watch baby more closely than the pc so need to rely on my hearing too>

                        I have an open kitchen, so I can hear and see the pressure cooker while I surf the net or watch TV or read a paper. Just make sure you don't do something loud like listening to loud music or turn on your TV loud or talking to someone on the phone. Basic common sense stuffs. Nothing really bad will happen if you off by a 1 minute.

                        Just try it once, and you will note if this approach works for you. I think it should work for you, but you will never know until you try it.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Thx- Itd be much faster coming to pressure from high- I'm glad to hear that it has worked alright for you!

                          1. re: sandi114

                            Yes, faster, and it is more accurate for recipe development too. Here is why. Let's say that it takes you 5 minute to bring the pressure cooker to the desire pressure in your high heat setting, and your recipe calls for a 1-hour total cook time. In this case, the 5 minutes precook has a very minor impact, and you can include or exclude it for your timing as it is a very small number.

                            However, if you use a medium heat setting to bring the pressure cooker up to pressure, then it can take 20 minutes. Now, should you include the 20 minute as part of 1-hour recipe or not? Obviously you are still cooking in that 30 minutes, but it is not up to pressure yet.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              Makes sense. Vendor told me to use high unless cooking things that would be more prone to scorch. Sounds like you use high in general. Thx

                              1. re: sandi114

                                <Vendor told me to use high unless cooking things that would be more prone to scorch.>

                                Oh, he/she is right. I mostly cook liquidly foods with my pressure cooker, like making stock. However, when making foods which are more prone to scorch, you do want to tone it down a bit. Sorry for the confusion.

                              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                Someone, I think it was on Hippressurecooking, was wondering whether the even faster heat of a induction burner could mess up PC cooking times. If it only takes 2 minutes to come to pressure instead of 5?

                                1. re: paulj

                                  I'm also curious if electric with coils vs smoothtop behave any differently. I have a smoothtop

                                  1. re: sandi114

                                    Somewhere in their manual, Fagor suggests using 2 burners on an electric stove. One to bring it up to pressure, the other preheated to a lower level to simmer. This addresses the problem an electric burner taking time to cool off.

                                    With a jiggle top PC this isn't as big an issue, since there is no harm in letting the weight jiggle rapidly while the burner cools down. With the Fagor there is a chance that the rim pressure release will activate if you keep the heat too high.

                                    You have decide from experience whether your stove takes too long to cool down.

                                    1. re: paulj

                                      Yes, I read that. Ideally, with a 9 month old in the house who will soon be able to reach higher up, I'd rather use one burner in the hopefully it'll work out.
                                      I made a lentil soup today with 4 cups of veggie stock and made the mistake of bringing to pressure on high rather than on 6 as I didn't realize that the lentils would be likely to scorch. A lot of stuff stuck to the bottom of the pot, though still a tasty soup, fortunately :)

                      2. re: sandi114

                        Regardless of what I'm cooking, I always wait until I hear the first "hiss" of the steam before turning the flame down to low. This guarantees the pressure has built to max and good to go.

                        1. re: pabboy

                          Agreed, pabboy. With my Fagor cooker (and a gas stove), I start on high heat and don't turn it to low until the yellow rod can't be pushed down AND steam comes forcefully out of the valve.