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Chris Amirault

Pressure Cookers: 2011 and beyond

508 posts in this topic

Looks like a better discount is now available through Amazon:

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"If you don't want to use butter, add cream."

Julia Child

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I'm a little late to the party, since I recently re-discovered my eGullet account!

On stovetop vs. electric...

Yes, electrics are all over the map on their "standard" pressure (mostly lower, thusly taking longer to cook and regular pressure cooker temperatures and though some are below the "standard" 15 PSI there are three brands that are not (Woflgang Puck, Nesco and Cook's Essentials).

As someone mentioned, the biggest disadvantage of electrics is the inability to do a quick (20 second) open that stops the pressure cooking immediately (for steaming veggies and fish). This opening method also prevents you from having to release vapor through the valve - an important consideration when cooking with foamy foods such as grains, beans, and alcohol (for example a 100% alcohol braise or poace) - which can either shoot out super-heated liquid or block the valve when you are releasing pressure through the valve.

Another drawback to electrics, is that they all have an interior insert with a non-stick coating (except for Instapot which has a stainless steel insert)- which is tricky for using accessories and delicate (if the coating is shot the whole pressure cooker is shot and you have to get a new insert) - I recommend using silicone steamer baskets and forms for these types of pressure cookers.

Of course, their advantage is that they automatically regulate the heat and pressure and start counting the cooking time from the time it reaches pressure. Heat regulation on stovetops pressure cookers turns off some people because there is a learning curve and a little bit of fiddling involved until you discover how low the heat can go without loosing pressure - usually by two recipes in, you've got it! They are starting to take care of this with Langostina's new Articook and Fissler's Vitavit Edition - which feature a little timer you can attach to the pressure cooker which begins counting down the cooking time from the time it reaches pressure -- I haven't seen them myself but their websites claim that they can do much more, including letting you know when the sealing ring needs to be replaced.

On Sizes and their uses

Most published pressure cooker recipes, and my own, are written for a 5L pressure cooker. Actually, they under-shoot it a bit to make sure you don't go over the maximum line (my risotto recipe, for example, can be doubled and still fit in a 5l).

1-2qt -"small frypan" Good for making sauces. Because of their small size, they reach pressure faster (but also cook less food). Great for one person.

3-4qt - "large frypan" Great for cooking meat because of the larger surface area in direct contact with the heat from the stovetop. Great for two people.

5-8qt - "braisers" Most recommended size for beginners, great for stews, soups, chilis, ect. If you can only afford one pressure cooker, this is the one you should start with (the other two can come later). Great for a family of 4-6.

10qt and above -"pressure cooker canners" Because of their size, these pressure cookers can also be used as canners, and are what you see in all the cooking shows (Top Chef, Next Iron chef, ect.) because of their increased capacity. I would caution use in the home unless the cook has actually seen and examined these pots because they are very heavy while empty, and can be tricky to fit in the average sink under the spout for a quick-open.

What I've got...

meandmypresurecookers.jpg

Plus a couple of extra Fissler models, not pictured, that I just received to try out and tell them what I think.

So glad to see increased interest in pressure cooking and I look forward to participating in the discussions!

Ciao,

L


hip pressure cooking - making pressure cooking hip, one recipe at a time!

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Lookit you! You're the queen of the pressure cooker people! What's your favorite brand for the 5-8 qt range? I'm trying to get over my fear of pressure cookers and value the opinions of my fellow Egulleteers much more than those reviewers at amazon.com...


If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

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Lookit you! You're the queen of the pressure cooker people! What's your favorite brand for the 5-8 qt range? I'm trying to get over my fear of pressure cookers and value the opinions of my fellow Egulleteers much more than those reviewers at amazon.com...

Someone else already owns the "Pressure Cooking Queen" title, but thank you ; )

I just run a campaign against brown, runny, uninspiring foods coming from the pressure cooker and hope to save the world, taste buds and time one recipe at a time!

If money is no object and you want the best quality, I say go with a Fissler (their Vitaquick is the one on the top left with the blue dot on the top). It's their new model, the Vitaquick, coming out later this year. These are the densest, heaviest, most well-made pans. You get top materials and German craftsmanship - everything is made in their German factory. Cooking in their pans is like driving a Mercedes, they've thought of things you didn't even think you needed - like being able to remove the handle with greasy or wet fingers so that the top can go in the dishwasher. The stainless steel is something to be marveled - I often call it "low-stick" but theirs is so finely ground and heat so well distributed it is as close to non-stick as I've ever seen a stainless steel pan get. It is truly a joy to cook in and, when I don't rotate my pans for photographing I'm always using their Vitavit Premium for my family cooking (that model is only available in Europe right now - don't know if they will be bringing it to the U.S.)

I would be remiss in not mentioning Kuhn Rikon - also very good with stunning design, but their minimalist features are not for everyone. Also a great premium investment. They have a new budget model that is in the $100 range, the Ecomatic, I have not seen it so I cannot comment.

Speaking of buget we go to the Fagors. They have a premium model the "Futuro" which has a very nice pressure-release valve. You just twist it and walk away instead of standing there and pushing a button for two minutes. However, you do get what you pay for. The top cannot go in the dishwasher - and needs to disassemble regularly by removing four screws to get clean. The stainless steel is also a bit more "sticky" and takes a little extra work to get clean.

The three manufacturers mentioned above have each sent me a pressure cooker to use - and each pressure cooker has had to go a two-week round of testing to be used and photographed on my website - I run them through a set of recipes that test the pressure cooker's ability to reach and maintain pressure and be able to do all the other things pressure cookers should do well: brown, braise, steam, ect.

In the end, to quote my pressure cooking colleague, The Veggie Queen, "They all get you there!" All brands will pressure cook - no matter what the brand, name or quality. So... my most general recommendations for any brand are:

  • Spring Valve - This is the latest technology and it won't fill your kitchen with steam and the sounds of steam engine pistons firing once every minute or two. My older "first generation" pressure cooker terroized my husband and children.
  • Stainless Steel - Don't compromise. There are some aluminum pressure cookers out there that are cheap (I see one offered on amazon all the time for under $30 but the base is aluminum)- they discolor, easily get pitted and mis-shapen and react with foods (if you never cook with lemon, tomato and wine - then the last part won't be a problem). Also, avoid non-stick coatings for the reasons I mentioned above for Electrics - they never play well with meat that actually needs browning.
  • Two pressure Settings - "High" for meats, legumes and anything dense that needs a long time to cook, and "Low" for veggies, fish, eggs (I have instructions for those coming in April) and other delicate things - some pressure cookers have a switch to select the pressure settings, some will show you one to two rings to let you know it has reached a pressure setting.
  • Stovetop - It is just more flexible (in terms of what and how you can cook in it) and less delicate, plus you get to use the base for regular cooking, too!

And lastly, if you can get a set with a matching small fry/sauce pan (they are usually two bases that share the same pressure cooking top)- you won't regret it! I always use my little pan for making pasta sauces, prepping veggies for other recipes, ect. If not, 5-8 quarts is a good starting point and very versatile.

Ciao and happy shopping!

L


Edited by pazzaglia (log)

hip pressure cooking - making pressure cooking hip, one recipe at a time!

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I took the plunge and bought the Fissler set with the smaller and larger pots...damn Amazon and their one click ordering. So now I need some "go to" basic recipes to make my husband not want to permanently block my internet access :huh:


If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

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I took the plunge and bought the Fissler set with the smaller and larger pots...damn Amazon and their one click ordering. So now I need some "go to" basic recipes to make my husband not want to permanently block my internet access :huh:

Wow.. that was quick! If you got the Blue Point, just note that they do not yet have the removable handles (the new Vitaquick coming out do), but you will not disappointed!

I have a Pressure Cooking Boot Camp of sorts - much more fun and tasty. It's a set of very detailed recipes to teach you how to use your new pressure cooker(s):

Hip Beginner Basics

http://www.hippressurecooking.com/2010/12/beginner-basics-learn-to-pressure-cook.html

At the end of the month I will also have a "whole pressure cooked" chicken recipe made in the 6.4 quart Blue Point. 10 minutes to brown, 20 minutes to pressure cook. Fully cooked chicken in about 30 minutes! Here is a preview that I gave on twitter (just browned waiting to be pressure cooked):

https://picasaweb.google.com/112574096953430679215/ComingUp#5582856906664255842

Have fun!

L


hip pressure cooking - making pressure cooking hip, one recipe at a time!

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I've been saving up for a pressure cooker recently and am getting ready to pull the trigger. From most of my research I have seen that the Kuhn Rikon is considered the top of the line cooker while the Fagor duo comes in number two. I have been planning on getting the 10 quart duo which costs about $100 since I started saving, but have recently started reading about the Rikon which comes in at 7 quarts and costs about $220.

Through my searching I have read that Modernist Cuisine recommends the Rikon as does the team over at Cooking Issues because it will not vent at cooking pressure which means it heats up more quickly, preserves volatile compounds from escaping and does not have as much evaporation during long cooking.

From what I can tell a pressure cooker should last me pretty much forever which means I don't want to regret buying something because I was in a rush. Is the Rikon really that much better than the Fagor even though it is significantly smaller? Or are these differences more theoretical and not as important in practice?

Thanks


Edited by avaserfi (log)

Andrew Vaserfirer aka avaserfi

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You could also check out Fissler. I just bought a blue point 8.5Qt last week. It shouldn't vent like the Rikon and the two reviews I've read of people that owned both Fissler and Rikon they preferred the Fissler. I haven't used it myself yet though.


Edited by rob1234 (log)

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I have a Fissler blue point I bought a couple of weeks ago. I LOVE it...I've used it 4x in the past two weeks for soup, chicken, etc. It's made so well, everything comes apart to be washed, and it's so quiet. It's more expensive, but like you said, you should only have to buy it once.


If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

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I had read some about the Fissler, but not much. They don't seem very popular or common in the States. What does it offer over the Rikon and Fagor? I'm still not sure I understand what the Rikon offers over the Fagor. It is smaller, and more expensive, but might allow for better flavors?


Andrew Vaserfirer aka avaserfi

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Through my searching I have read that Modernist Cuisine recommends the Rikon as does the team over at Cooking Issues because it will not vent at cooking pressure which means it heats up more quickly, preserves volatile compounds from escaping and does not have as much evaporation during long cooking.

What the authors are referring to is a pressure cooker with a spring-valve, as opposed to the older generation pressure cookers (which are still being sold, by the way) with jiggler and weight-modified valves which retain pressure by releasing vapor. So when you are researching a pressure cooker look for the word "spring-valve" in the specs.

Kuhn Rikon, Fagor, Fissler - they will all get you to your destination (pressure cooked food), two have "leather seats", one has an extra-fine polish, and one is an economy car. But in all of them the result will be = pressure cooked food!

Just one note on Fagor: they have about three models with only ONE pressure setting "high" while their Futuro and Duo models have two pressure settings (which are standard for Kuhn Rikon and Fissler). I only mention this because I just published a recipe for pressure cooking eggs, and some of my readers cannot use the method because they have a Fagor which only reaches High pressure.

Be judicious with your budget, but don't get these ultra-economy models with one pressure setting!

I have a Fissler blue point I bought a couple of weeks ago. I LOVE it...I've used it 4x in the past two weeks for soup, chicken, etc. It's made so well, everything comes apart to be washed, and it's so quiet. It's more expensive, but like you said, you should only have to buy it once.

So glad to hear your pressure cookers arrived! Did you try the whole chicken in the pressure cooker, recipe or something else? Aren't the Fisslers easy to clean?

beer_can_chicken.jpg

Ciao,

L


hip pressure cooking - making pressure cooking hip, one recipe at a time!

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Found this Fissler set on Amazon for $180 - it was listed as Used but the description was that it is still in the original box, and the order is fulfilled by Amazon.

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Kuhn Rikon, Fagor, Fissler - they will all get you to your destination (pressure cooked food), two have "leather seats", one has an extra-fine polish, and one is an economy car. But in all of them the result will be = pressure cooked food!

Thanks for the info. I am looking at the Fagor duo which does both low and high pressure settings. I was kind of getting the sense that the differences between the Rikon and Fagor (and Fissler) were mostly cosmetic. Are there any functional differences between the pressure cookers? That I still can't figure out.

If I recall some places suggest that the Rikon is a completely sealed system at pressure (I think this is true of the Fissler too), while the Fagor does release some steam at pressure. Am I misunderstanding the situation and does this steam release matter?


Andrew Vaserfirer aka avaserfi

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I think the kuhn rikon makes it easier to cook without venting any steam. If you follow the Fagor manual, you are supposed to have a slight but steady stream of steam while you are cooking at pressure (I guess this guarantees that you are at the target pressure). If you don't want to vent (e.g. for stock where it has been shown to produce a less flavorful outcome), I have had success turning down the temperature slightly to the point where it is not venting but still at the desired pressure (you have to get used to it on your cooker/range b/c it's easy to drop further down as well). I've found listening to the interior contents (mild bubbling) as a helpful indicator to make sure it is getting enough heat.

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If I recall some places suggest that the Rikon is a completely sealed system at pressure (I think this is true of the Fissler too), while the Fagor does release some steam at pressure. Am I misunderstanding the situation and does this steam release matter?

We have a Fagor Duo and have been happy with it. Based on what I've seen, it doesn't seem to release steam at pressure, but it does release steam on its way up to pressure. When it gets up to pressure, a little button-indicator pops up and that seems to block the hole the steam was escaping from.

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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We have a Fagor Duo and have been happy with it. Based on what I've seen, it doesn't seem to release steam at pressure, but it does release steam on its way up to pressure. When it gets up to pressure, a little button-indicator pops up and that seems to block the hole the steam was escaping from.

MelissaH

On my 8qt Fagor Duo, before it gets pressurized steam escapes through the handle - I think this is unavoidable and based on the safety valve catching at pressure, like you said. Once at pressure, it depends on how much heat you are giving it (steam can escape through the selector dial opening).

I also forgot to mention above - if you are trying to avoid venting, you also obviously have to let the cooker cool naturally rather than releasing the steam at the end (can take 30+ minutes for a full batch of stock in my cooker)

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All new generation, spring valve, pressure cookers operate by expelling oxygen from the pan first lightly then forcefully until the pan begins to reach pressure and you hear a "click" where it seals shut and the pressure indicator either begins to rise to the desired temperature ring or pops up a signal. When the desired pressure is reached, the heat should be turned down to the lowest possible setting without loosing pressure (it takes a little adjustment to get it right). If the heat is not lowered enough, vapor will escape from the valve as a safety measure to keep the pressure inside from getting too high.

I have a Kuhn Rikon, Fagor and several Fisslers. But cannot really see the mechanics of all the valves because some of them are in a proprietary casing (which I cannot open without destroying it). The Kuhn Rikon valve is super-minimalist and it's really just a metal rod, a spring and a screw. The Fagor valve is a little "doo dad" with a spring, suspended in a plastic-type casing that can be easily removed. The Fissler valve cannot really be seen on any of the models I have because they are integrated in their "Euromatic" handle - but from what I can see all the pieces are metal.

My Fagor Futuro does not have a steady stream of steam coming out of it while it is at pressure (only when it is over), it does have an occasional light whisp of vapor that escapes during cooking. The Kuhn Rikon and Fissler do not have any vapor escaping during cooking - you cannot even smell if something is burning in them (yes, I've had experiments go wrong!)

Ciao,

L


Edited by pazzaglia (log)

hip pressure cooking - making pressure cooking hip, one recipe at a time!

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I've had a 7-3/8Q Kuhn for a number of years (I just found an old receipt for $100) that has served me very well. When I bought it, the choice for "good" PCs was either Kuhn or Fagor and I got the Kuhn because of it's size and advanced safety-features (I believe that they were the only ones with spring-loaded valves at the time). Cook's Illustrated recommends the Fagor on a 2005 article but I fail to understand the 2 issues (lack of a locking mechanism and the quick release) they had with the Kuhn. At the same time, buying 2 Fagors for the price of one Kuhn is a plus..

The only small tiny issue with it was finding gaskets for it (the only part I've had to replace on this) and now I can easily find them online. I'm almost certain that I've seen Fagor gaskets and parts at major retailers. Cleaning-wise, the Kuhn is so easy it's ridiculous.

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[it is truly a joy to cook in and, when I don't rotate my pans for photographing I'm always using their Vitavit Premium for my family cooking (that model is only available in Europe right now - don't know if they will be bringing it to the U.S.)

I've been looking around to buy a Vitavit Edition but have been unable to find it online. I'm gonna have to call my sister in Berlin and have her ship me one..

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Hi -

I would recommend to start out using what I have: the Fagor Rapida set. One 4 qt., one 8 qt., a universal pressure lid and glass lid for both, plus a steamer basket. The advantage? A new 6 liter (~6 qt.) Kuhn Rikon Ecomatic is about $100 on Amazon. Or you can get the Fagor set on eBay for the same price: http://cgi.ebay.com/B1XDE-200307-New-5Pc-Fagor-Rapida-Pressure-Cooker-Set-/230606154956?pt=Small_Kitchen_Appliances_US&hash=item35b132accc

IMG_1847.JPG

- J

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Jethro, your set is beautiful, and well-acessorised!

I would caution on the selection of Fagor models . They make several models with just one pressure setting "high", this includes the Rapida. Only their Duo and Futuro models have two pressure settings. Important if you want to cook anything delicate like veggies, fish or eggs. For stocks, meats, ect. it doesnt matter -- but I'm getting lots of feedback from my readers that they can't make the pressure steamed soft boiled eggs in their pressure cooker because it has only one pressure setting.

Here is the info from Fagor...

Fagor's Economy Model -Rapida:

http://www.fagoramerica.com/cookware/pressure_cookers/rapida_line/rapida_2x1_5_piece_set

"Spring type mechanism with one pressure setting: High (15psi)"

Fagor's Mid-range model -Duo:

http://www.fagoramerica.com/cookware/pressure_cookers/duo_line/duo

"Spring type mechanism with two pressure settings: Low (8psi) and High (15psi)"

Fagor's Premium Model -Futuro (I have this one):

http://www.fagoramerica.com/cookware/pressure_cookers/futuro_line/futuro

"Triple Safety System features dual pressure control valve plus two independent over pressure release valves"

If you want to go with a Fagor, I highly recommend getting a model with two pressure settings!

Ciao,

L


Edited by pazzaglia (log)

hip pressure cooking - making pressure cooking hip, one recipe at a time!

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It's unlikely that I'll buy a centrifuge or even an industrial vacsealer anytime soon, but there appear to be recipes using a pressure cooker in Modernist Cuisine, and I've been thinking about getting one for a while. Today at the hardware store I came across this Presto Pressure Canner (and cooker) and started to wonder, if I couldn't get a two in one unit, as I love canning things as well, but don't have a pressure canner, which you need for certain things.

This unit goes up to 15psi, I can't tell if it has different settings or can be set to anything on the scale.

Would this be a purchase that makes sense? It's mostly a canner, but the box says you can use it as a cooker as well. It doesn't go up to the Asian turbo setting of 21psi, but does any pot you can buy here in the US? Do I need that option? I can't tell.

I do like that this unit is big enough to use as a decent size canner, I really don't want to have a canner and a pressure cooker sitting around, there's a limit to how much stuff I can store.

If anybody here has this unit (or a similar one) I'd be curious to hear what you think about it as a cooker, as I'm sure it'll work fine as a canner, being advertised as such. Amazon reviews also indicate a good product and the price is certainly good.


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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I have a presto canner / cooker, that I use for canning salsa and applesauce. If I'm not mistaken, it has an aluminum interior? I personally wouldn't use mine for cooking, as I find the aluminum picks up weird off smells in the canning process, that I wouldn't want to transfer to food I cooked. Not to mention I'd be concerned with cooking anything acidic (with tomatoes) in there...

Emily

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I just got my Rikon duromatic and am testing it out. I was under the impression that these units are silent unless brought to too high of a pressure. Mine gives off a constant, slight hissing sound (seems to be from the top valve) which I assume is pressure release. Is this normal? I was under the impression that this is not supposed to happen. This hissing starts to occur as soon after the pressure indicator begins to rise and is present regardless of pressure.


Edited by avaserfi (log)

Andrew Vaserfirer aka avaserfi

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Today at the hardware store I came across this Presto Pressure Canner (and cooker) and started to wonder, if I couldn't get a two in one unit, as I love canning things as well, but don't have a pressure canner, which you need for certain things.

This unit goes up to 15psi, I can't tell if it has different settings or can be set to anything on the scale.

Oliver, as Emily mentioned, this has an aluminum pot base, which is reactive, and should not be used for any recipes including tomatoes, lemons, vinegar or wine. The other two drawbacks are: 1. It has a "giggle" type valve, which operates by giggling (and you have to regulate the giggling from lively to slow - which alot of people can't figure out) which maintains pressure by releasing large amounts of vapor through the giggler. 2. The size seems a little unweildy to be hauling out regularly, using, and cleaning. The product features do not even mention how many pressure settings there are - my guess is one.

After knowing all that, if you still want it, go to the store with a measuring tape -- you may not even have enough width on your stovetop burner or height under the range hood to accommodate it!

Are you a big canner, or is this something you would like to explore?

The best of both worlds, is the Fagor Pressure Cooker/Canner. It is stainless steel, has a spring valve (with the Fagor VERY LITTLE vapor release during operation), dual pressure control, and is a good size to keep with the rest of your pans, or fit the base in the dishwasher which means you'll use it more often.

I just got my Rikon duromatic and am testing it out. I was under the impression that these units are silent unless brought to too high of a pressure. Mine gives off a constant, slight hissing sound (seems to be from the top valve) which I assume is pressure release. Is this normal? I was under the impression that this is not supposed to happen. This hissing starts to occur as soon after the pressure indicator begins to rise and is present regardless of pressure.

No, it is not normal. Constant hissing means that it is operating over-pressure and it is releasing the excess pressure.

Make sure to turn the heat down ALOT after the pan reaches the ring of the desired pressure (just when the ring appears out of the hole). I have a gas stove-top and even the lowest setting is not low enough, I have to turn the handle it past Max to minimize the flame even more. Another trick (especially if you have an electric range), is to simply move the pan over to a smaller burner with less heat. It will take a few recipes to get the hang of it and hit the "sweet spot" of heat that is as low as it can go without loosing pressure (the signal going down) or kicking-in the over pressure safety (release steam that hisses).

Ciao!

L


Edited by pazzaglia (log)

hip pressure cooking - making pressure cooking hip, one recipe at a time!

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