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Pressure cooker recommendations?

Have never used one in my life, but I think it's time I learned. However, since I do a lot of Indian recipes, I keep reading about 1-whistle, 3-whistle, etc., and I understand US pressure cookers are vastly different. So: any recommendations for a newbie who doesn't want to blow up the kitchen?

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  1. Hi, pine time:

    I'm no PC expert, quite the contrary, just bought my first PC.

    But I've been reading and shopping for quite awhile, and I recently chose the RapidChef Supercooker. About the only place to get them new is http://www.pro-selections.com/index.cfm There is also the Fagor Pressure Magic from the same source.

    I chose this model/style because it can also be used as a pressure fryer. This is a completely manual configuration, but it has 3 separate pressure safety features. As far as I can tell, it's only downside is that it operates at 10psi, rather than the 15psi of many PCs, so you have slightly longer cook times. It also has a heavy bonded-disk bottom.


    27 Replies
    1. re: kaleokahu

      Maybe its also a function of altitude, I'm at about 1,000 feet and my sister is a few hundred feet higher, so we're both relatively close to sea level, but we haven't found the 10 PSI to be cause for increased cooking times in most dishes, only for meats that are cooked for prolonged periods of time.

      The temperature differential is less than one would think from the relative PSIs. A 15 PSI pressure cooker gets up to around 250 degrees. http://fastcooking.ca/pressure_cooker... says 10 PSI will correspond to about 235 degrees, and http://www.cookingissues.com/2011/08/... actually hacked the model I have, a Cusinart CPC-600, and got it up to 237 degrees. I also read somewhere else, sorry don't remember where, that although the 10 PSI units cook at 10 PSI, they spike up to 15 PSI or close it to when heating up, so for shorter cooking recipes, it isn't going to make a noticeable difference for most recipes, at least in our experience.

      1. re: ePressureCooker

        As Cookingissues explains it, electric pressure cookers actually control the temperature, not the pressure. Sensing temperature, and turning heat on and off to keep it with a desired range is must easier than sensing pressure.

        What they found was that the pressure seal was good enough to handle higher temperatures.

        For non-electric cookers, controlling pressure (and indirectly the temperature) is easy with a pressure gauge, weight, or spring value.

        1. re: ePressureCooker

          Hey ePC:

          The Arnold piece was good reading, thanks.

          This novice is going to refrain from hacking anything that contains 96 oz. of 390F peanut oil under 10 psi of pressure. I'm a cooking adventurer, not a passively-suicidal stunt chef.


          1. re: kaleokahu

            Agreed, Kaleo, I would definitely recommend NOT hacking an electric pressure cooker, in fact, the authors of that article say the same thing. They are a cooking school, and have access to facilities and resources, including scientific equipment (and presumably safety equipment), that most of us don't have. Besides, there's no reason to do it, they've already done it for us!

            For anyone who's interested, if you do a search, they also have an interesting article, actually two IIRC, comparing stock created in the pressure cooker versus traditional methods.

        2. re: kaleokahu

          Macy's also has them. I find them much easier to use than the ones I saw growing up. I saw my mum's explode and deposit daal all over the ceiling. Mum still gets hers in India but I have a fagor from Macy's which is really easy to use. There are so many websites with pressure cooker recipes that you shouldn't have any problems! Enjoy

          1. re: Kalivs

            Hi, Kalivs: "Macy's also has them."

            Are you sure? I cannot find this armature-style PC on Macy's website.

            I believe that the RapidChef Supercooker is made by Magefessa in Portugal, and the Fagor Pressure magic is made in Spain. These are quite different units than I see on Macy's website.

            Are any of the PCs offered by Macy's approved for pressure frying? Virtually all PCs other than the two models I mention warn *against* this use.


            1. re: kaleokahu

              Everything that I have ever read recommends that you do NOT pressure fry in any pressure cooker.. They are meant to be used with liquid not fat. But what you do in your own home is up to you.

              1. re: The Veggie Queen

                Hi, VQ:

                Thanks for your concern. You are right that pressure frying is not approved in a regular PC.

                However, in the case of my Rapid Chef, pressure frying is the very first section of their manual. You can get the manual here if you want to read about its *approved* use as a pressure fryer: http://www.pro-selections.com/product... Or there's a for-purchase video link here of a pressure frying demonstration: http://www.pro-selections.com/product... My cooker came with a videocassette of the demo and it looks very straightforward.

                I would be interested in your expert opinion after you read and see this stuff.


                1. re: kaleokahu


                  I cannot access the manual or video so I can't comment on pressure frying in your cooker. I have seen that cooker and it is built differently than many others. If they say that you can do it, then I am sure that you can. Always follow the directions for safety's sake.

                  1. re: The Veggie Queen

                    If the manual has any warning about adding more than a few tablespoons of oil (usually they warn about a 1/4 cup or more) that's a red flag the unit wasn't built for pressure frying. Hopefully, it is, and you can do it, but most machines are not.

                    1. re: ePressureCooker

                      Hi, ePC:

                      For the 8Q, they say up to 3 QUARTS of oil. Elsewhere, they say you want the oil to be at least 2 inches deep. So I'm just going to (scrupulously) follow the instructions.


                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        Well then, it's a pretty safe bet that it was intended to be used as a pressure fryer. I'm officially jealous. ;D

              2. re: kaleokahu

                Most of Fagor pressure cookers are made in Spain but not all of them. Some are beiing made in China. You have to look carefully. Their electric models are made in China.

                A friend of mine has the electric Fagor and really likes it. I gave my niece an electric Fagor, she'd never heard of pressure cookers and I thought it would be good for a novice. She loves it. She has 4 children, the eldest is 15 and the youngest is 2. That pc is constantly in use. It changed her life!

                1. re: Candy

                  Why should the Spain v China matter? Both of mine were made in Spain. If the China ones are made to Fagor's specs, there shouldn't be any difference.

                  1. re: paulj

                    Paulj, some people feel that, specs or no specs, Chinese quality control isn't as good as American or European quality control; and some people have concerns about working conditions in China. I'm not necessarily endorsing these viewpoints, just reporting them.

            2. re: kaleokahu

              Hello Kaleo,

              How is this working out for you? Would you recommend it? I tried finding any sense of you reviewing this and I couldn't find it.

              I'm looking to pressure fry as well.

              Do you just follow the instructions from the manufacturer when it comes to you cooking fried chicken in it or have you found a personal way to do it that you feel is better? Have you fried anything else in it?

              Also, why did you choose this over the Fagor?

              1. re: kaleokahu

                Hello Kaleo,


                I am still in the market for a pressure fryer and am very curious about your responses to my previous questions.

                I understand if you are too busy to answer and completely respect that, but wanted to reask just in case you did not see I asked in the first place.

                Thank you for your time, advice, and thoughts.


                1. re: KungPaoDumplings

                  Hi, KPD:

                  Gosh, I'm SORRY. Did I not answer your questions? I must have lost this thread...

                  It's working out just great, and I definitely recommend it. I have been getting chicken far juicier with the same or better crisp than with just deep frying.

                  So far I haven't departed from the manufacturer's instructions for pressure frying. The instructions are stated as "musts", and there's a fairly rigid rule for how long you cook what (e.g., chicken gets 2 minutes/pound after the lid goes on, whereas seafood gets 1). My experimentation has been more in the direction of batters, brines, rubs, oils, etc I have also done prawns, scallops and short beef skewers in the cooker.

                  I chose this make simply because it came up for resale at a reasonable price. My understanding is that it and the Fagor are no different in any meaningful way.

                  One of the several ways that these units differ from many others is their comparatively low psi, i.e., 8 vs. 10 or 15. I've considered everything I've cooked in mine to have been done very fast, but if you're used to cooking at 15psi, maybe 8 would seem slow, I don't know. What I *do* know, is that these units are simple and robust, without cord, electronics, expensive parts, or complicated interlocks.


                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    Hello Kaleo,

                    As I said, I just thought you were busy; there is no need to apologise, there never could be.

                    That is great news! More juicy and more crisp sounds like the pressure creates the rather noticeable affect that it is supposed to.

                    I’m glad that the manufacturer’s instructions are producing such optimal products to you. I know that ignoring the specific danger here with this product that often when one follows recipes (Sometimes mixed with directions) that they often aren’t very good and can be overcooked. That all sounds like a lot of fun and delicious, have you been using it as a fryer only or have you been pressure cooking with liquids/water as well? I ask because I know it is your first pressure cooker and you got me curious about your new experiences with a new tool.

                    That is really good to know, I was wondering just that (If there were any real differences between the brands).

                    My regular Fagor pressure cookers can do 15 psi and 8 psi, I’ve never actually PCed at 8 psi so I am not certain of the time difference either. I bet in general it would still feel quite fast 2 minutes per pound for chicken seems fast, how many pounds of chicken can your 8 qt do at once? I feel like I read it somewhere, but I have misplaced it. Also, does the chicken touch the bottom of the pot when it pressure frys and does it make the chicken have a harder crust where it touches the pot?

                    “What I *do* know, is that these units are simple and robust, without cord, electronics, expensive parts, or complicated interlocks.”

                    That is music to my ears, I’ve seen some PCers that make it look like it would be easier to break into a high security vault versus using it.

                    I just wanted to say I am so sorry it took me so long to reply to this and I am sorry if I am asking too many questions, the last thing I want to do is bother you and I am sorry if I ever have at any point.


                    1. re: KungPaoDumplings

                      Hey, KPD:

                      I've been slowly including regular PC preps with mine, and so far, so good.

                      i believe the 8Q can pressure fry 3 pounds per batch. This is mostly a precaution--to keep the oil level conservatively low (but it's still a lot of oil).

                      Regarding the chicken touching the bottom after the PC is sealed, I don't know--you obviously can't see. However, the chicken shows no sign of being crispier/browner on one side.

                      You're no bother, KPD. i admire your inquisitiveness.


                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        Hello Kaleo,

                        That's great to hear, any favourites? : )

                        So, that would make it 6 minutes total for 3 pounds right? That sounds very quick even compared to 15 psi to me and 3 quarts is a lot of oil, I agree, I'm glad to the extra precaution even if it is more than needed.

                        That is fantastic to hear, I had to stop making fried chicken on the stovetop in cast iron because the part of the chicken coating touching the pan would always get rock hard even if nicely coloured and it just isn't me personal ideal for fried chicken.

                        That is lovely to hear Kaleo; I am honoured. I have always been voracious for knowledge and have learned to keep it to myself, I hope I never do bother you.


                        1. re: KungPaoDumplings

                          Hi, KPD:

                          My favorites so far are bean and lentil dishes.

                          My unit is the RapidChef 8Q. The only markings say "Rapidchef, Made in Portugal, Inox 18/10, 226/2004"

                          No, it takes longer than 6 minutes total, because (a) I was wrong--it's 3 min/lb for chicken; and (b) you preheat the oil and deep-fry the food with the lid off for 45-60 seconds before sealing it up. In pressure frying, you start your recipe time only *after* the lid goes on.

                          Other useful info from the manual:

                          --Yes, there are very specific instructions for pressure-frying (but they're not complicated).

                          --You want 1.5-2" of oil in the PC, maybe a little more if you're using it to full capacity "so that the food will float and not rest on the bottom." For the 8Q size, this is about 96 fl. oz.

                          --During the 45-60 seconds of frying before sealing the unit, you are advised to break up any pieces that have stuck together.

                          --Unlike with conventional PCs, you do *not* turn down the heat after the unit comes to pressure; you leave the hob set to High.

                          --The 10Q can accommodate 5 lbs of food (4Q=2lbs, 6Q=also 2lbs, 8Q=3lbs).

                          --You can pressure-fry different foods together (e.g., chicken and joes); if you do, use the *longer* of the cooking times.

                          --The oil should be 375-390F at the flop, and at 390 if you're filling the cooker.

                          --You can also pressure DRY ROAST in these (just a few tablespoons of oil), but I haven't tried this yet.

                          --The 304-page spiral-bound manual/cookbook that Pro-Selections sells for $25 is really valuable, because everything is written specifically for these 8psi cookers.

                          Have Fun,

                          1. re: kaleokahu

                            Hello Kaleo,

                            Bean and lentil dishes are such great pressure cooker dishes, sounds lovely.

                            “No, it takes longer than 6 minutes total, because (a) I was wrong--it's 3 min/lb for chicken; and (b) you preheat the oil and deep-fry the food with the lid off for 45-60 seconds before sealing it up. In pressure frying, you start your recipe time only *after* the lid goes on.”

                            I was just counting the time when pressure was applied, but that is a VERY good point; that all still sounds very quick though : )

                            I’m excited for the all new information you have given about your pressure cooker, thank you for writing this all out, it is invaluable.

                            “"so that the food will float and not rest on the bottom."”

                            I did not know that that could happen, that is so cool.

                            “--Unlike with conventional PCs, you do *not* turn down the heat after the unit comes to pressure; you leave the hob set to High.”

                            Wow, that makes it SO much easier to use than a conventional PC, it makes me really want one right now lol (I’m not joking, I hate fiddling with hob settings with my conventional PCers).

                            “--The 10Q can accommodate 5 lbs of food (4Q=2lbs, 6Q=also 2lbs, 8Q=3lbs).”

                            Oo, thank you so much for this now I can figure out which model to buy, thank you! I wonder why the 4Q and 6Q do the same amount of food.

                            “--You can pressure-fry different foods together (e.g., chicken and joes); if you do, use the *longer* of the cooking times.”

                            Joes? Using longer cooking times is easier enough and that certainly is helpful to be able to do multiple at once, how nice.

                            “--The oil should be 375-390F at the flop, and at 390 if you're filling the cooker.”

                            Flop? Filling the cooker to its maximum oil and lbs of food I assume?

                            “--You can also pressure DRY ROAST in these (just a few tablespoons of oil), but I haven't tried this yet.”

                            Oh wow I didn’t know that either, that is cool too; tell me how that goes that sounds like a lot of fun : )

                            “--The 304-page spiral-bound manual/cookbook that Pro-Selections sells for $25 is really valuable, because everything is written specifically for these 8psi cookers.”

                            I’ll have to buy one when I get a pressure fryer it sounds like the perfect mate to the machine.

                            “Have Fun,”

                            You too : )

                            Thank you again for all this really helpful and fascinating information and again I’m sorry I took so long to reply.


                    2. re: kaleokahu

                      I've been meaning to ask, Kaleo, what specific model did you buy? And the manufacturer actually has instructions for pressure frying, do they? That's unusual.

                      I myself just bought a PRESSURE SMOKER. I can't wait to use it. But its been crazy hot the last few days since I received it, and I just can't take the heat, so I think I'm going to have to start cold smoking cheese first.

                        1. re: KungPaoDumplings

                          Thanks. Then I guess my only remaining question is whether the manufacturer includes specific instructions for pressure frying?

                          1. re: ePressureCooker

                            You're welcome. Yes, it comes with a manual from the manufacturer detailing how to pressure fry in the unit.

                            (He specifically bought a unite that can be called (And used) a Pressure Fryer versus a Pressure Cooker, although the Pressure Fryer can do the same job as a Pressure Cooker as well.)

                2. I like my old reliable Fagor Splendid. If you have a look at the Fagor USA site, you will see several lines and can read about the features.

                  My Splendid is a simple cooker. I am fascinated by having 2 pressure settings, and I am thinking hard about buying a 5 pc Fagor Futuro, but I haven't made up my mind totally.

                  At any rate, find this book: Pressure Perfect, by Lorna Saas. She is pretty reliable and she explains about what sorts of cookers are out there. I'd get the latest edition. Also she has a blog: http://pressurecookingwithlornasass.w... and here is another blog: http://www.hippressurecooking.com/

                  Since you haven't grown up with one, or used one before, I'd do some research about what cooker might be best for your needs.

                  Happy hunting!

                  1. The 'whistle' business is more of a way of timing the cooking, than a difference in pressure cooker construction.

                    One way of controlling the pressure is to put a weight over the vent pipe in the lid. In US brands like Presto, the steam lifts that weight a bit, allowing it to rock, and release excess pressure. Thus a slow rocking is an indication the cooker is at the designed pressure.

                    I have a small Indian Hawkins PC that also has a weight that lifts to release pressure. A small lift controls pressure just like the Presto. But the weight also has a ball bearing catch. If heat is kept high, the weight lifts to the extent that this catch allows, releasing a burst of steam - the whistle.

                    Apparently in Indian homes without timers, the practice developed of timing the cooking by the number of times it whistles like this. Hawkins does not recommend timing like this As with a American (and European designs) they recommend lowering the heat so that it just maintains pressure, as opposed to keeping it high and letting it 'whistle'.

                    I don't know off hand the conversion between 'n-whistles' and 'x minutes'.

                    Hawkins has a different lid locking mechanism. The lid is elliptical, and fits inside the rim of the pot. It's unusual, but as best I can tell it is effective and safe.

                    When people tell tales of 'blowing up the kitchen' it is almost always the result of trying to open the lid while there still pressure inside. Presto added an effective lid interlock in the 1970s. The Hawkins design is inherently a locking lid.

                    When buying on, check on whether replacement parts are readily available. The lid gasket is some sort of rubber that needs to be replaced when it gets worn or hard. Other parts might also need to be replaced with use and age. So any major brand that has a good distribution network in your area is a candidate.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: paulj

                      Thanks, nice overview. My pressure cooker is a Mirro, probably from about the 70s. It has an interlocking lid and a safety valve. I find it interesting that so many people want to tell me how dangerous it is and suggest buying a new one for hundreds of dollars. I've had no issues *whatsoever* cooking veggies, stews, beans, and more. I'm always careful to thoroughly release pressure before opening.

                      1. re: tcamp

                        It might well be dangerous in less experienced hands, however. Part of the problem in the past has been operator error.

                        1. re: ePressureCooker

                          What kind of operator error do you have in mind? tcamp said this has an interlocking lid.

                          1. re: paulj

                            I should have been more specific. I wasn't talking about tcamp's model specifically, but older pressure cookers in general.

                            There are many ways people could cause problems with a pressure cooker, new or old. A clogged pressure valve that hadn't been properly cleaned, for example, trying to fry in them, or I actually read somewhere (made me cringe) someone had stuck a fork into one of the backup safety features (a backup pressure release vent, I think it was) for reasons I can't remember.

                            1. re: paulj

                              People would often try to get the lid open before the pressure came down and that is operator error. Also, some people did not properly clean the vent pipe which can get clogged and the pot can build up too much pressure.

                              The new pressure cookers usually have about 5 safety release valves and it's almost impossible to make them "blow up". But with enough neglect, I am sure that anything is possible.

                              1. re: The Veggie Queen

                                And then there are the folks who try to make the Colonel's fried chicken in units that aren't designed for it. :(

                                1. re: The Veggie Queen

                                  Trying to open the lid when there is still pressure is addressed by a lid interlock. That's standard now days.

                                  Pressure release if the main vent is clogged:
                                  Presto's have a rubber plug in the lid. The downside to this design is that steam and contents can shoot straight up to the ceiling.
                                  Hawkins has pressure release plug under the upper handle.
                                  Fagor has a gap in the lid rim, allowing the main gasket to bulge, and release excess pressure laterally.

                                  In theory Fagor may be better, but in practice I've found it frustrating. The handle broke on my first pot. Main gasket fit has been hit and miss on the replacement. Sometimes it fails to seal and I never get pressure. And when pressure builds, there is a fine line between operating pressure, and too much, causing the gasket bulge. The Presto's rocking weight is a clearer indication of operating pressure (and isn't so sensitive to heat setting).

                                  1. re: paulj

                                    I have been using my Fagor for over 12 years. with none of the problems you cite. I am really surprised. I have had to readjust he lid for the gasket to seal. I do this when I should be having pressure but don't. I have been thinking that my gasket is probably due for replacement. But a broken handle! Wow. Which Fagor do you have?

                            2. re: tcamp

                              There is no need to spend "hundreds of dollars". There are a number of pressure cookers below $150.00. If you check them out at Amazon you will be surprised at how reasonable they are. I have sold many pressure cookers. Check it out, But if you are happy with your Mirro and can get gaskets that fit it stay with what you are comfortable with.

                          2. Fagor Duo. I have 2, an 6 qt. and an 8qt. I also recommend a Kuhn Rikon that is the "Cadillac" of pressure cookers and worth the money.

                            I do recommend that you get Lorna Sass' book Pressure Perfect and Cooking Under Pressure. You might check out www.missvickie.com It is a good web site that you can learn a lot from. She also has a good book, Victoria Wise - The Pressure Cooker Gourmet.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Candy

                              Candy, I second your Lorna Sass recommendation. Also want to note that Miss Vickie (Vickie Smith) and Victoria Wise are two different people. Miss Vickie's book is called "Miss Vickie's Big Book of Pressure Cooker Recipes" and is a little more meat-and-potatoes oriented than Victoria Wise's "Pressure Cooker Gourmet."

                            2. There are many models of "modern" pressure cookers that don't have jigglers and don't whistle which are the ones that I recocmmend. The best value pressure cooker (Cook's Illustrated) is the Fagor Duo 8 quart but it really depends upon how many people you cook for. Generally for 4 people a 6 quart ought to be just fine.

                              You can use most standard pressure cooking charts to determine the length of time certain ingredients need and correlate it to the number of whistles, which is the timing.

                              Other than the Fagor Duo, my favorite (but expensive) pressure cooker is the B/R/K set.

                              I have not yet tried the Calphalon cooker but hope to do so soon.

                              I am a pressure cooker expert (teaching more than 17 years) and I have a lot to say about them. Avoid a jiggler, avoid aluminum and have fun with your new cooker. The differences in cookers is like the difference between a Corolla and a BMW. They will both get your where you want to go.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: The Veggie Queen

                                Thanks, Veggie Queen and everybody else, too. Lots of great info here and lots to research yet. I appreciate all of the help!

                              2. I'm late to this party, and you've gotten lots of good info already, but I'd like to put in a plug for Kuhn Rikon cookers. I really love mine: simple to operate, loses almost no liquid during cooking, maintains high pressure on very low heat, easy to clean. If cost is an issue, the Fagor Splendid or Duo would be a good choice. I have the high-pressure-only Splendid; it works very well and I've never felt the need for a second (lower) pressure setting. The Magefesa Practika Plus, which has two pressure settings, is also a good, relatively inexpensive stainless-steel cooker.

                                1. I have a Nesco electric pressure cooker that I picked up at Walmart for <$70. I was really impressed with the heavy duty build and overall quality of it. It also gets up to 15 psi, which not all pressure cookers do.

                                  Personally, I prefer the electric ones vs. the stove top models. You don't need to keep an eye on them as much, and they are more consistent - especially when you are experimenting with cooking times to see what works best for you.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: Atomic76

                                    Those are two things I *love* about electric pressure cookers. That you don't have to babysit the unit while its cooking, and the consistency. I keep testing my own recipes, trying to perfect them, and if this volume of one kind of soup takes 2 minutes to cook so the vegetables and pasta are done just right, they'll be just right every other time. The end product will be consistent from one batch to the next. (One of the reasons why I love doing pasta in the electric pressure cooker - consistency that eliminates human error!)

                                    1. re: ePressureCooker

                                      I love my electric pressure cooker, too, for the same reasons as Atomic76 and ePressureCooker. Plus, I have an electric ceramic-top stove, so it would be harder for me to control the heat on a stovetop model than if I had a gas stove. I also second (third? fourth?) the recommendations above of the Lorna Sass books. Also, America's Test Kitchen has a new pressure cooker cookbook that just came out a month or so ago. I've tried several recipes from it and they've all been great.

                                      edited to add: I have a Fagor 3-in-1 electric pressure cooker/rice cooker/slow cooker but I really only use it for the pressure cooker function.

                                      1. re: AmyH

                                        I also have (against my will) a ceramic cooktop, so this info. on electric PCs is useful. Thanks!

                                        1. re: pine time

                                          Lorna Sass herself told me that I should get a regular (stove top) pressure cooker and have two burners going; one on high to bring it up to pressure, and then one on low to move it to for maintaining pressure. With 4 kids in the house there was no way I was going to do that. It's too hard on a ceramic top to tell a burner is hot and it's too easy to have a tragic accident. The electric pressure cooker is perfectly safe and even better because you set the time and walk away.

                                          1. re: AmyH

                                            Fagor also recommends the 2 burner approach when you have an electric stove. But that isn't as necessary with a rocker weight Presto. There's no harm in letting the weight rock vigorously until the burner cools down.

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              I have used my Fagor Splendid on only one burner for over a decade. I use the high heat burner, turn it on high, and bring up the pressure indicator, then back the heat off. I never moved it between burners, and would not do it that way. As another poster said, it is too easy to burn yourself if you are using a glasstop cooktop.

                                              I always felt that the glass cooktop and the PC worked well together.

                                            2. re: AmyH

                                              My sister only has only one child, plus a couple of dogs, and her interruptions are CONSTANT, so she mostly uses her electric pressure cooker, too. She prefers it over the stovetop one, even if it doesn't reach 15 PSI, for precisely that reason: set the timer, and walk away... ;D

                                    2. Hi Pinetime:

                                      Pressure cookers are a godsend for Indian cooks.

                                      In addition to what others (esp Paulj and VeggieQueen) have helpfully said, I will add specifically for Indian food. I can't imagine making Indian food without a pressure cooker, though many writers talk nostalgically about pots simmering for hours over a wood/charcoal stove. Nice and romantic if you don't have to personally spend hours in a smoky atmosphere, or other hours gathering fuel. PC's exist for very good reasons.

                                      1. Whistles are a very wasteful and unscientific way to use pressure cookers, I don't know why even present-day Indian cooks continue to write about that method. The point of a PC is to cook food under pressure, and each time the whistle goes, it releases steam, which lowers pressure and defeats the purpose, and adds cooking time and wastes fuel.
                                      So, when your PC has come up to pressure, turn the heat low, keep it just enough to maintain pressure, and time the cooking after that - kitchen timer.

                                      2. Many Indian cookbooks/recipes that use pressure cookers overestimate the time needed. Here is what I have found effective:

                                      Dals - are usually supposed to be mushy and liquidy, so you can't really "overcook" in a pc. You are never seeking crunchy or al dente texture. I usually use a 4:1 ratio or liquid to dal, and cook.
                                      Quicker cooking dals are moong and masoor - they become fully cooked in the time taken to come down from full pressure - I just turn the pc off after it gets its full head of steam, and it gets done.
                                      Toor and chana dal take longer to cook, especially the former. About 10 to 15 minutes on low, after the pc reaches full pressure.
                                      Pre-soaking these dals cuts down the cooking time and improves the texture of the finished product (typically completely pureed).

                                      Whole beans - e.g. chana, rajma, kali dal, sabut moong/masoor, etc. take longer to cook than split beans.
                                      I begin with presoaked dry beans, and after pressure comes up, I take about 15 to 30 minutes under low pressure and then the time taken for the pressure to come down, but it varies for each type of bean. Lobhia (black eyed peas) take much less time. Make the recipe a couple of times and find what works for you - start with less time and work your way up. You can always close the cooker again and cook some more if not done to your liking.

                                      Vegetables: become mush in a flash. I rarely use the PC for vegetables, even though recipes call for this use. The usual wok/skillet gives better control and texture to the finished product. I only use it for things that will ultimately get pureed, like saag.

                                      Rice - same thing - becomes mushy very soon. I only use the pc for rice if I am making something inherently mushy like khichdi/pongal or kheer.

                                      Meat etc - you're on your own here, no idea, but the same basic principles apply.

                                      I have a Fagor Duo and a Hawkins, and have been very happy with both. Go for stainless steel and avoid aluminium.

                                      All best - once you get started you will become very comfortable with PCs.

                                      13 Replies
                                      1. re: Rasam

                                        Thanks, Rasam. I'm still dithering about whether I "really" need one. I've been cooking Indian food for over 35 years, so telling Mr. Pine I need a new gadget now is a hard sell. Plus, being retired, I have plenty of time on my side for conventional cooking. But, I'm still pondering, so thanks for all the specifics!

                                        1. re: pine time

                                          Good luck with your decision: being retired should entitle you to more toys, not fewer :) Especially if you watch and find a good sale, it's not such a huge purchase to justify, especially if you have a birthday or such coming up.

                                          Re time for conventional cooking: it's an energy usage issue in today's environmentally devastated world. Indian cooking lends itself very well to an eco friendly method like a pressure cooker.

                                          1. re: Rasam


                                            It thrills me that you are on board with how eco-friendly the pressure cooker is. I say that if more people start pressure cooking, it helps both people (who can eat better food faster) and the planet.

                                            I know a man who told me that he was into slow food and that he was not ever going to use a pressure cooker. Now he had to change his diet and eat more whole foods such as legumes and he is a pressure cooker convert.

                                            Whether it's electric or stove top, a pressure cooker is a great idea. In my opinion, though, in the long run the stove top cookers win because they don't usually have issues the way that the electrics can. My oldest cooker is about 14 years old and I have only had to replace the gasket once.

                                            1. re: The Veggie Queen

                                              That's a good point. There is an environmental component argument to pressure cooking. Not only the energy you save, but the less prepackaged food you eat (canned soups, broth, canned beans, canned vegetables (ick), canned chili and stews, frozen dinners, frozen food, etc) the less packaging you create, and if you eat more local fruit and veg, dried beans and grains, the less your carbon footprint from shipping your food.

                                              1. re: The Veggie Queen

                                                VQ: You are definitely preaching to the converted.

                                                If they will only invent a solar pressure cooker ;) I too have been snobbed on by people who criticized pressure cooking as fast food! 8-O
                                                I am glad the man you know ate his words :)

                                                A big reason why pressure cookers are so popular in middle class India is that they save great amounts of fuel, which is so expensive.

                                                I have found your writings on pressure cooking very informative, and with ePressureCooker I am glad to find more PC fans here. :)

                                                1. re: Rasam

                                                  Rasam, they don't have solar pressure cookers, but if you're interested, they do have solar cookers. Sister bought one, she loves it, but can't use it as much as she'd like because she works the graveyard shift. She's cooked stews, muffins, all sorts of things in it.

                                                  She also owns a thermal cooker, which is sort of a cross between a pressure cooker and a slow cooker. You put the pot on the stove for 15 minutes, put on the lid, turn off the heat, and then the thermal cooker will continue to cook the food for a number of hours by holding the residual heat in. (The temperature drops very slowly over the next couple of hours.) Also a very energy efficient cooking method. ;D

                                            2. re: pine time

                                              Pine time, I may be able to help you "sell" the idea of a pressure cooker. Its not just a matter of saving time, though a pressure cooker is GREAT for that.

                                              For one thing, if you eat meat, pressure cookers allow you to use much less expensive cuts of meat. However, being retired, that might not be a sufficient selling point, given the availability of time. You could cook those same cuts of meat for longer periods of time using conventional methods. You also use less of other things. If you have an electric stovetop or oven, you can save a lot on your utilities bill by using a pressure cooker. My sister has cut out a significant portion of her utilities bill giving up the electric stovetop and oven (she has an electric pressure cooker). For soups, you can use a third less broth, so for every recipe calling for 6 cups of broth or stock, I only need 4 to do it in the pressure cooker. Saves me a can of broth right there. For every 2 batches of soup, I save enough canned broth to make another batch of soup. You also use a lot less wine, I only use a tablespoon or two for a batch of soup, compared to a much larger amount for traditionally made soups and stews. We also stopped buying canned beans, and make them all fresh. (For that matter, I'm no longer buying canned soups, everything we're eating these days is freshly made.) We're also eating a lot more grains, which are easier to make in a pressure cooker.

                                              My father's big draw to getting his own pressure cooker was that he could make beans without soaking them overnight. We can have them in less than an hour, and that's starting from dried beans, on no notice (plus including depressurizing times). You can make them even faster if you do presoak. That means quick chilis, one of his favorites. We can also make sweet potatoes in 6 minutes, as opposed to over an hour in the oven, or quite a long time in a stockpot. Artichokes in 6 minutes, I can also cook pumpkin or any winter squash in very little time.

                                              Maybe if you told us what he likes to eat we could help you form a good argument, if the utility bill alone won't do it. ;D

                                              1. re: pine time

                                                Pine Time, I've been cooking Indian food for 25 years and just got a pressure cooker a couple of years ago and it changed my life! It's not about having the time (I work at home and in theory should have the time) it's more about being able to do it without planning ahead. If dinner is in a half hour and I want to make toor dal instead of masoor dal, I can. If I want to make lamb curry, I can. It just increases your options. Plus, it doesn't have to be watched for scorching in the same way a regular pot does, because there's less evaporation.

                                                Like Rasam, I never make vegetables or rice in it (except when i add veggies to my dal or meat curries), but if you cook a lot of indian food, you will not be sorry if you get a pressure cooker. Just do it!

                                                1. re: pine time

                                                  If you're retired then you will appreciate the reduction in the time spent on your feet, stirring, potwatching, etc. Do your feet and back a favour and get a PC and use it often. In fact, get more than one PC and use one to keep a constant supply of stock on hand and the other for spur of the moment dishes.

                                                2. re: Rasam

                                                  Some Indian recipes call for cooking the dish till most of the liquid evaporates and the oil separates, adding some more ingredients, and cooking it down again, etc. How do you adapt those to a pressure cooker? Can you get the same result, or just accept a difference?

                                                  It is possible to cook rice in a pressure cooker, in about 7 minutes. It isn't a big time savings, at least not for white rice. I find also that it tends to release more starch. That can be a good thing for Italian style risottos, where you want creaminess. Not a good thing, though, for light and fluffy rice.

                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                    I can't speak to the Indian dishes question, but I have to completely disagree with respect to the rice issue.

                                                    I'm not sure if you mean regular white rice cooks in 7 minutes total, or 7 minutes under pressure, but even with my electric pressure cooker, it cooks in 3 minutes under pressure. Brown rice takes 10 minutes. Wild rice takes 20. Risotto takes 6 (and you're right, pressure cookers are very good at making risotto, maybe not to Mario Batali's standards, but far better than most folks could manage on their own).

                                                    My sister even did a blind taste test on the family regarding brown rice in the pressure cooker. The same amount of rice was not only more evenly and thoroughly cooked (no crunchies), it was lighter, fluffier, and had visibly greater volume. Several members of the family asked what she had done differently, it was a noticeable improvement.

                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                      "Some Indian recipes call for cooking the dish till most of the liquid evaporates and the oil separates, adding some more ingredients, and cooking it down again, etc. How do you adapt those to a pressure cooker? Can you get the same result, or just accept a difference?"

                                                      I can't speak for all dishes that use this technique, but in general it's easy: the first step you describe is typical for dishes that begin by bhuno-ing the ground onions+spices. So just cook the onion paste until the oil separates, add whatever needs to be added at this stage, brown as needed, then add the required water, cover, pressure cook, and done.
                                                      End results are usually indistinguishable from ordinary pot cooking.

                                                    2. re: Rasam

                                                      I don't cook Indian style, but I cook beans the way you do. I agree totally that it is a good idea to set the heat just low enough to maintain pressure. That's how I cook most things.

                                                      I presoak my beans, except for blackeyed peas, just as you say, It improves the texture and doneness of them.

                                                      I cook chicken for stock the same way. Setting the heat to maintain low pressure gives me lighter colored stock.

                                                      Great post!

                                                    3. I am new at pressure cooking but I really like my Cuisinart Electric pressure cooker thus far. I need to find a site with new recipes to try.

                                                      1. Buy one now!
                                                        If you need to sell the hubby:
                                                        1) it's cheaper
                                                        2) stock in a third of the time, or less! (and better marrow extraction)
                                                        3) Beef stew that is melt in your mouth delish!

                                                        It's a great way to cook all those "low and slow" foods... including corned beef!

                                                        Love it for mashed potatoes -- since they don't dissolve, you can add as much of the water as you'd like.

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: Chowrin

                                                          Sorry, can you explain what you mean by mashed potatoes dissolving and adding water? I've never cooked mashed potatoes in my PC.

                                                          1. re: missmasala

                                                            I'm assuming what chowrin is referring to is using your pressure cooker to pressure cook potato chunks on a vegetable steamer, so they are held above the small amount of water and are steamed. They don't get waterlogged and fall apart, like they often do when they are boiled.

                                                            The potato chunks come out of the pressure cooker hot, much drier and consequently ready to absorb much more milk, and they make FABULOUS mashed potatoes. I'm not sure if we're allowed to post links to our own sites, but if you check my profile you'll find my site. I've got a recipe up there that shows how to do this. ;D

                                                            (Apologies for the self promotion, but I actually already had a recipe up that demonstrates this.)

                                                            1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                              What you said. That's how I do it too.

                                                              1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                I don't bother steaming, just boil in a water bath. it comes out decent anyhow, because of a shorter cooktime.

                                                                1. re: Chowrin

                                                                  Well, I'm assuming you're still using significantly less water in the pressure cooker, plus with the shortened cooking time, your potatoes are absorbing far less water than they would using conventional methods.

                                                                  I'm guessing pretty much the only difference between what you're doing and what I'm doing (aside from how I prepare the other ingredients, milk, butter, etc.) is that you put the potatoes directly in the water on the bottom of the pot, and I put them in a vegetable steamer which holds them slightly above the water in the pressure cooker.

                                                          2. I have not done any indian cooking, but I love my PC... I am able to take meat from the freezer, (even if it has been in the freezer for what would be normaly too long), and In less than an hr I have a delicious meal. as far as the vegitables, wait until the last 10 min or so and they will be great.

                                                            1. Pine,

                                                              I have a Fagor pressure cooker. It works very well. I cook a bit Indian foods, but funny that I have never cooked Indian foods in my pressure cooker. Based on what I have read, many Indian dishes work very well with a pressure cooker, but I will let others to comment on this.

                                                              I think you should have a pressure cooker as long as you have the space for it. This is coming from me -- a person who don't even use pressure cooking all that much. The reason I am recommending to get one is that you can always operate your pressure cooker as a normal vessel. In other words, a pressure cooker does not have to take up extra space -- if you plan it right. I would say that I have been using my pressure cooker as a normal pot for half of the time. Good luck.

                                                              1. Hi Pine Time: No need to worry about blowing up the kitchen. Today's pressure cookers have redundant mechanisms to make them much safer than the old pcs.

                                                                I've used both electric and stovetop pcs and I much prefer the stovetop pc. This, even though I have an electric stove with glasstop burners. The Cuisinart electric pc I bought was finicky. Sometimes, it would come up to pressure, other times, it wouldn't, in spite of constant checking to make sure that I closed the lid correctly and followed all other directions. I returned the Cuisinart and bought a Fagor Futuro, which I love. I have had the most delicious meals from that pc. It works great with my electric stove. I use the two burner method. I just put a teakettle on the burner that I'm not using to avoid accidents. I much prefer the 15 p.s.i. that the stovetops attain. The Fagor conducts heat very well due to the aluminum core sandwiched in between the layers of stainless steel. I really like that it is future proof, too, as it is induction-ready. Clean-up has been surprisingly easy - even when I have occasionally overcooked some things.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: morjoie

                                                                  Sounds like the electric pressure cooker you bought had a bad control panel. I've had several of them (I love them) and they don't work like that. The only time I ever had a problem was when I was stupid enough to buy a "refurbished" unit to try to save some money. Big mistake. I didn't realize it wasn't working right at first, I thought it was human error, that I had forgotten something, but eventually I realized it was the unit, not me losing my mind. Thankfully, it stopped working while it was still under warranty, so they sent me a brand new unit.

                                                                  So I guess it wasn't a total loss. But those kinds of problems are coming from a faulty unit, they're by no means normal.

                                                                2. I love my Wolfgang Puck electric pressure cooker. I bought it this fall, I was actually in the market for another slow cooker and this caught my eye. I have no regrets about my purchase and love the idea that I can come home from work, put all the ingredients into the pressure cooker and by the time I changed my clothes and set the table dinner is served. Almost as great as putting all the ingredients into a slow cooker BEFORE work and coming home to a cooked dinner. I have only just started experimenting and can't wait to have company over some night to serve a wonderful 25 minute dinner! I like the electric one because you don't have to worry about how high a flame/heat on the stove and it has an automatic shut off is anything were to go wrong. In fact one of the first times I used it the cooker would not get warm and I soon found out it was because the vent was not in the correct position. I like the safety of the electric version. You do have to play with recipes because too little water/liquid will scorch/burn your dish and too much will leave it bland and watery. Enjoy!

                                                                  1. A bit late entering the discussion here and you've already gotten a lot of good information here. I'll still add my two cents.

                                                                    Although pressure cookers these days are indeed much safer in general, they are not all created equal. You can still purchase ones at Macy's like the Casa Essentials brand, which are the same whistle-top style based on old designs - they are not safe at all in my opinion. I purchased one initially and while it did not explode, it did over-pressurize on two separate occasions and expelled hot liquid in the air and all over the stove. Luckily I was not in front of it at the time.

                                                                    After those bad experiences, I ended up purchasing a Kuhn Rikon based on recommendations from the Modernist Cuisine cookbook and development team. It is certainly pricey and top-of-the-line, but it is heavy and feels well constructed. The bottom is thick and maintains even heat, which is good for searing meats before closing the lid. It also has 4-5 different pressure safety mechanisms, so I have peace of mind while using it. Cooking should be fun and enjoyable, which it wasn't before with my old pressure cooker. Bottom line, while you don't need to spend as much as I did for the Kuhn Rikon, also don't cheap out here because you could seriously regret it if you have a bad accident. As others have suggested, the Fagor Duo is a more affordable mid-range option and was rated highly by America's Test Kitchen.

                                                                    Also, one last bit of advice. Make sure you purchase a large enough sized pressure cooker. PCs are not designed to be filled completely with liquid or food contents and you want to make sure you can cook enough food for a meal for the family. Also remember that certain items like grains expand while cooking.


                                                                    1. After years of using my Mom's stove top pressure cooker that would whistle and mine that would rattle and a more modern one that had a gauge, I splurged and gut my first electric PC. I have since bought a second. I gave my stove top pressure cookers away. You can take anything from my kitchen but don't touch my electric PC's or my Vitamix. I biggest waste of space is my microwave that my husband makes his corn on the cob in.
                                                                      I do all the cooking and my husband plans the menu. The day he remembers to take out of the freezer something, I'll raise a flag. Chicken soup from FROZEN in 18 tp 20 minutes. Chicken cacciatore from frozen in 18 minutes. What can I say to tell working women this is a blessing and keeps all the nutrients in the food. I am just putting on black eyed peas to make pea cakes. From dry it will take 7 minutes once up to pressure. I can walk out and it will shut off. Wish I had it years ago. It can do all the horrible things the stove top once did. They are redesigned and are the best new appliance. I love collards but they used to cook for hours. In the electric PC 12 minutes. Write if you young or beginners need any help. Black eyed peas in 8 minutes and not soaked, just rinsed. I'll make pea cakes for a change.

                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                      1. re: BuddyNSB

                                                                        If all you do in the microwave is corn on the cob, guess what? You can get rid of it, 'cause you can make corn on the cob in the pressure cooker, too. ;D

                                                                        1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                          I no longer make corn on the cob any other way. So much faster than waiting for a big pot of water to boil, and it seems to taste brighter and sweeter than when I microwave it. I use a stovetop PC, but of course an electric one will do the job too.

                                                                          1. re: Miss Priss

                                                                            I suspect far less of the corn flavors are being lost to the cooking water (since you're only using a cup, maybe less) plus on hot days of corn season you don't turn your kitchen into a sauna just to enjoy corn. (I cook hot dogs in the pressure cooker, too)

                                                                            1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                              I love, love, love my pressure cooker, but I prefer the grill for corn and hot dogs!

                                                                              1. re: AmyH

                                                                                Sure, grilled corn and hot dogs are better, but sometimes you're not going to fire up the grill just for a hot dog or some corn. . .

                                                                                1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                  And sometimes you live in an apartment, where grilling indoors would be smoky and dangerous, and grilling on the balcony would be illegal.

                                                                              2. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                That's my hypothesis regarding PC'd corn versus boiled corn. However, I have no idea why PC'd corn tastes better to me than microwaved corn, since for microwaved corn I use no water at all. Maybe it's just psychological.

                                                                                1. re: Miss Priss

                                                                                  I doubt its psychological. I'm currently re-reading On Food and Cooking (with an eye towards pressure cooking) and I just finished the chapter on herbs and spices. The chapter talks about the volatility of herbs and spices, how temperature makes them more volatile. If that's true of herbs and spices, its probably equally true of other things. For example, I've noticed that for dishes with chiles, the capsaicin seems to be slightly enhanced, at least by brief pressure cooking (haven't experimented enough with longer pressure cooking). And tomatoes, pressure cooked tomatoes are so much better, I can never get them as delicious as when they've been pressure cooked, or even reheated in the pressure cooker.

                                                                                  Why wouldn't the same be true of corn?

                                                                                  Actually, I just opened up McGee to one of the corn section it says: "Heating also intensifies the characteristic aroma of corn". Its quite possible that the increased temperatures from pressure cookers intensify those aromas (largely due to dimethyl and hydrogen sulfides and other sulfur volatiles - methane- and ethanethiols, per On Food and Cooking), and since aroma is part of flavor, there's a perfectly plausible explanation.

                                                                                  1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                    OK, ePC - I'll go with that hypothesis!

                                                                                    1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                                      Maybe. Although I've yet to read any rationale for why a few more degrees attained in the PC would enhance corn aroma more than simple steaming or boiling. IMO, it's more attributable to pressure or speed rather than temperature.

                                                                                      Someone should do an experiment.

                                                                          2. I am very late to the discussion too and haven't read all the comments yet.

                                                                            I have several pressure cookers -- some of them are the whistle kinds and some the rocking kind. I understand that the second generation PCs are better since one can more accurately see when pressure is reached.

                                                                            I know that I am being vague here. I have a number of questions and have not organized my thoughts well. I will be more precise if a discussion ensues.

                                                                            My main interest is cooking Indian food, for one person -- I am Indian.

                                                                            I am a bit surprised to read everywhere that PCs always produce one max pressure, often 15 psis. If this is teh case, wouldn't an 8 quart PC produce a higher temperature than a 2 quart PC?

                                                                            PV = nRT.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: shakervc

                                                                              'n' is higher in the larger pot to start with. The equation holds, roughly, before you apply heat. In the PC 'P' doubles. 'T' does not. This isn't an ideal gas situation. Still 'P' and 'T' are linked.

                                                                              1. re: pabboy

                                                                                Interesting. In theory, I buy the idea that some flavor/aroma escapes through a jiggler, but I'm not confident it makes much of a difference.

                                                                                I also don't buy the conclusion at the article's end that the inability to skim or gently simmmer at <212 don't make any negative differences.

                                                                              2. Just found this thread... I have 2 Pressure Fryers a 6 qt and 8qt. One is a Pressure Magic and the other is a Rapid Chef but I forget which is which. I used to have a 3 qt also but gave it away because it was too small for just about anything I wanted to do, even for cooking for one. I got them all at Midwest state fair demos and both pressure fryers now easily 15-20 years old and still going strong. I use the 6 qt about 3 times a week for mostly regular pressure cooking, the 8 qt less often--got it soon after the first to do a bigger batch of fried chicken for company. Comes out like KFC. I have not felt limited by the decrease from 15 to 10 pounds of pressure and the 10 pounds is recommended canning pressure for many pressure canners so I enjoy running a couple of pints or quarts of a new recipe through it for tasting experiments before I get serious. When I get serious I can with my 2 year old American 21 Quart Pressure Canner which I like better than my previous 1980s Presto aluminum 21 quart canner a) it stainless and b)there is no gasket c)it is heavier duty. But I gave the aluminum one to a friend where with a new gasket and pressure gauge upgrade it is still going strong also. I pressure can all my soups, beef and chicken broths (and stewed tomatoes for safety). My non-pressure water bath canning I do in a lightweight stovetop steam canner. I also have several Indian pressure cookers, a 5L and 6L Hawkins, and a 5L and a 10L taller with dome lids configuration Prestige. With their heavier weight and whistles (loud blasts, actually)they handle pressure differently that allows different kinds of cooking than steady pressure American style cookers with their smaller weights and steady pressure. I also found an unused small microwave pressure cooker at a thrift store that works great too for a pound of meat sized dinners for one. They are all wonderful. Just use each for what they were designed to do. Watch and listen to be sure your weight/exhaust vent is working, never ever open a cooker without checking the pressure is back to zero, and don't do stupid things their specific manuals warn against. In my Indian cookers, a heat setting for "whistles" to occur about 3 minutes apart with spontaneous pressure release and timing give approximately the same result as either my stovetop or electric American style cookers and also work out about right for Indian recipes giving the time in number of whistles--but the latter may have to be tweaked a bit depending on the cooker. My Hawkins run at 15 lbs, my Prestige run at 10 lbs. Both do perfect rice and small dal/kitchdi which doesn't work as well in an American cooker because of the pressure management differences.