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Old 07-10-2009, 12:18 PM   #1
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Location: Oak Harbor, WA
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Pressure cooker anxiety....

I conquered many other anxieties (yeast being the biggest), but I really don't know where to start with this one.

A few years ago, my mom gave me a beautiful T-Fal pressure cooker. I'm dying to try it, I've read the book that came with the cooker, but I have no idea what to try first, and then how long to cook it. When do I start the timing....when it starts steaming? I am, for the most part, a vegetarian, and I know that my pressure cooker is a valuable tool for cooking soups and stuff like that. I do cook meat for other people, and I know that it's a good way to cook certain meats, but how does one time the cooking? Will I blow it up? I realize that you can't cook the same things for the same amount of time across the board, so I guess what I'm looking for is maybe a general go-by for veggies, meats, etc. (obviously not for each thing) I'd also appreciate a brief step-by-step, if anybody has one or can link me to somehting......

Thank you very much!


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Old 07-10-2009, 12:24 PM   #2
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What you want is the contents of the owners manual. That info should all be in there along with recipes. If you don't have a manual, it's likely you can go online to the manufacturer's website with the model number and print one out.

Properly used, the pressure cooker will not blow up. There are safety features built-in.

Generally, you can cook foods in about 1/3 the normal cooking time.

Timing the cooking should be spelled out in the manual.

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Old 07-10-2009, 01:28 PM   #3
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I do have the owner's manual....I just looked at it again, and I can see that I wasn't specific in my questions.... so here goes:

The recipes generally say to bring to cooker to pressure (I assume that's when the valve begins to agitate, allowing steam to escape), then it says on some of these recipes to reduce heat to low and cook XX minutes. Should there still be steam escaping when I've reduced the heat? When the cooker is cooling, is it safe to remove the valve when steam has stopped coming out? I know that some of these questions sound stupid, but I've worked with autoclaves, and I know that you have to be carefull with steam under pressure as far as opening something at the safe time........ If I'm worried, would it hurt to run it under some cold water, even if the recipe doesn't say it's necessary?

I'm sure that once I get the hang of this, I'll look back at this post and laugh.....
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Old 07-10-2009, 01:39 PM   #4
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No, when it says to bring it to pressure, it means the proper cooking pressure, not when it just starts to steam a bit. Start timing then. Also, timing isn't terribly critical as long as you don't undercook your food -- a little extra isn't going to hurt most things you cook in the pressure cooker.

Not sure about the steam or the valve on your model. However, I think you're over-thinking this. Modern pressure cookers are extremely safe with multiple redundant safety features. You couldn't get it to blow up if you tried unless you physically disabled every one of those devices.

You might want to pick up a cookbook for pressure cookers. Pressure Cooking for Dummies is a pretty good guide. Anything by Lorna Sass is worth the cost.
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Old 07-10-2009, 11:38 PM   #5
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There are books - "The Pressured Cook" is one and the author has at least two others and they are wonderful! I love my PC!
Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all. Oregon native transplanted to Chicago....
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Old 07-11-2009, 01:06 AM   #6
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From when I was a child, I remember my mom's pressure cooker leaving supper all over the ceiling. I have avoided them ever since.
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Old 07-11-2009, 10:12 AM   #7
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I would do a test run with just a couple cups of water, just to get familiar with your pressure cooker and how it all works. That will make you more comfortable when you try it with food. Afterwards you will wonder why it took you so long to use it. :)
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Old 07-11-2009, 11:28 AM   #8
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Thanks, y'all! As soon as I make something, I'll report my results! :)
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Old 07-12-2009, 02:44 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by dave the baker View Post
From when I was a child, I remember my mom's pressure cooker leaving supper all over the ceiling. I have avoided them ever since.
I have the same memories! I don't want to traumatize my son so I just don't use one.

Linda Abend
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Old 07-12-2009, 03:16 PM   #10
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Your fears about exploding pressure cookers are unfounded, at least with high-quality modern pressure cookers, such as those from Kuhn Rikon. I have two of their units, and believe me, it's virtually impossible for the thing to explode. As I said before, you would have to manually defeat five separate safety features, and it would require someone with good mechanical ability, a welding torch, and an evil mind to do so.

This excerpt from the Kuhn Rikon website addresses this issue:
Aren't pressure cookers dangerous?

We've all heard stories of pressure cookers "blowing up" or the "geyser of split peas soup" that is a permanent ceiling adornment. Luckily, most of us have never experienced these urban legends first hand. The DUROMATIC pressure cookers belong to the new generation of pressure cookers. They are built with safety features that make it impossible for this kind of disaster to occur.

First, the automatic lid-locking device of the DUROMATIC pressure cookers insures that no pressure can build up until the lid is put on correctly. The lid cannot be removed or come off until all of the pressure has been released.

DUROMATIC pressure cookers provide the ultimate protection against excess pressure. The first indication that too much pressure has built up inside the cooker is the audible hiss of the valve as excess pressure is released through the valve. When the user hears this, the heat should be turned down. As long as the valve is not clogged, it will take care of any over pressurization by allowing steam to escape through the radial escape holes located on the valve stem.

Other safety releases will come into effect only if the central valve is clogged. If that occurs, excess pressure will also escape through the safety holes in the rim of the lid.

Additionally, another spring-loaded safety valve in the lid is set to release steam in case of a clogged main valve due to overfilling or too-high heat. This valve is not a "blow plug" like some old American cookers had, but a highly accurate spring-loaded valve which will open at a preset internal pressure and release steam safely and effectively.

Finally, at higher pressure, the gasket is forced out through the six bayonet flanges in the lid, and a jet of excess steam escapes (once again in a downward direction.)

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