Pressure cookers

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Pressure cookers have been around for a long time.  Many of us are familiar with stories of ‘exploding’ cookers where boiling sauce has shot all over the walls and ceiling – or even worse - over an unsuspecting cook in the kitchen.   Today’s pressure cookers have multiple safety features, including pressure activated locks, safety valves and many other extra precautions to help us avoid the mishaps of the past.   

As we become increasingly time poor, labour and time saving devices such as pressure cookers are once again becoming popular.  However, accidents can happen – especially when old, unfamiliar products make a comeback.  Reports of pressure cookers failing, releasing hot liquids and causing serious burns have recently been received.  You can still enjoy your pressure cooker by simply following some important safety precautions.

Pressure cooker
Pressure cooker , by tvanderloo

Pressure cooker safety

Follow some simple steps to ensure your pressure cooker meal ends up in your plate not on your walls.

Before you buy

  • Check product reviews.  Price alone shouldn’t be a factor - ease of use, efficiency and especially safety are prime considerations, especially for a pressure cookers.
  • Be careful if buying a second hand cooker.   Don’t buy an appliance with a cracked lid or dry, cracked or ill-fitting rubber gasket (the rubber ring which lines the lid of the pressure cooker).

Before you cook

  • It might be boring, but read the instruction manual – and keep it handy in case you have a problem during cooking.
  • Measure liquids precisely.  Pressure cookers rely on liquid to create the volume of steam necessary for cooking.  Too little and too much are both not a good thing – be accurate.
  • Don’t over fill the cooker.  Most manufacturers recommend not filling more than 2/3rds full to allow for expansion and prevent food from blocking the valves.
  • Be careful with frothy foods like pasta, split peas, oatmeal, apple or cranberry sauce.  These can block steam valves and pressure release vents and cause problems.
  • Release the pressure from the cooker safely. Cool the pot naturally by removing/switching off  the heat source, water cool or use the pots ‘steam release valve’ (quick release).  Protect your hands, face and body – keeping away from the steam at all times.   Tip the lid away from you when you first lift the lid and don’t let the hot condensation drip onto you.

Before you pack away

  • Check the rubber gasket to make sure it hasn’t started to perish.   Many manufacturers suggest you replace the gasket regularly, possibly every 12 months, to ensure safe reliable cooking.  Also check to make sure the rim is clean – even the smallest food residue can break the seal during you next meal.

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