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Old 12-12-2012, 07:29 AM   #1
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Pressure cooking pains

I have come face to face with my first pressure cooker, and I'm not sure what to think.

my partner and i are from different countries and this is the first year we are celebrating christmas with his family. The food and cooking techniques are very different from what I'm use to. I have been requested to reproduce his grandmothers famous steamed syrup sponge cake with her pressure cooker. Now she comes from a generation of " add a little of this and a little of that" so there is no recipie and not really a cook time. I've found a recipie online and practiced a few times, while it tastes great, its not cooking enough (even after an hour and a half). I have tried low heat long time and high heat shorter time. I think the problem is the pressure cooker, or my inexperience with one.

I'm wondering about heating the cooker up and using it. I've never turned on the heat till the bowl is in the cooker and its closed up. Should I have the cooker over low heat so it warming up the water before I load it and put the lid on Ect? Will that effect it? Also when getting it up to pressure should I have it on high or low heat? Once I cap it (I'm not sure the term for the piece that keeps the heat in) should the heat be high or low? And how can I be certain the pressure is held?

Any info you think might help would be lovely! Thank you!

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Old 12-12-2012, 10:20 AM   #2
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Typically, the pressure cooker can be started from cold. That is, all ingredients, including the liquid, are cold. The pressure cooking starts when sufficient air expansion from hot steam raises the internal pressure of the pot to make the steam regulator release pressure, normally, 10 lbs psi. This varies with the pressure cooker. Some have different ranges that can be set, 5, 10, and 15 lbs. Timing starts when the pressure cooker has come up to its operating presssure. Heat is reduced to keep the pc at that pressure. No more is going to make a difference, except to boil away the liquid faster. This, depending on the foods being cooked, can lead to burnt food.

So, use high heat to quickly bring the pc up to pressure, then reduce heat to the minimum to maintain that pressure. Start timing the food when the operating pressure has been reached.

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Old 12-12-2012, 03:08 PM   #3
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And you asked how to tell if pressure is being held. It might not have been clear, but the regulator cap with be "dancing," hissing, and releasing vapor. If it's not, the pressure is less than the indicated pressure number you selected.
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Old 12-16-2012, 11:45 AM   #4
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You want the regulator to hiss, not dance. Dancing means it is too hot, turn down the temp. It should subtly hiss.
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Old 12-22-2012, 10:07 PM   #5
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Good use for pressure cooker

If you are new to pressure cookers, I would suggest making a stock- chicken, vegetable, whatever. Fill it up about half way (no more), including water. Infusing flavor into liquid is one of the things pressure cookers do very well. With all that liquid you can crank up the temperature with no fear until it starts to hiss, and then back it down to low. I usually pressure cook stock for an hour, then turn off the heat and let the pressure fall. Then, after the pressure falls, I remove the lid and simmer the stock (very low simmer) for at least another hour and adjust the seasonings while that is going on. It makes truly great stock, and great stock is the basis for a lot of good things
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