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Chris Amirault

Pressure Cookers: 2011 and beyond

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I don't have the latest book, so I cannot confirm whether a single pressure will cover all of the recipes there. Maybe someone here with the time, inclination, and book can answer.

All the recipes in Modernist Cuisine at Home require high pressure (1 bar / 15 psi).

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I too am now Interested in a pressure cooker but I am looking to buy one on the cheap to test it out before I spend serious money on a good one. To that end, I posted an ad on Kijiji and someone wrote back to say they had a brand new one they are looking to off-load. The brand they have is one I have not seen mentioned anywhere in this thread. It is WMF. It is as far as I can tell, a German make. Amazon has it for $230 (list 255). Does anyone know anything about this make?

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got the Ball pint jars. they look like this in the 6 L Fagor:

PC & Jar.jpg

there is some parallax here but there is about 1" clearance to the top of the bottom 6 L pot.!

with the insert placed under the jar. Id probably be able to do 4 at a time which is all I really need.

Your thoughts?

thanks


Edited by rotuts (log)

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In the US the "Top" valve only seems to be available with the long-handled models, while in Europe Kuhn-Rikon makes it for the stockpots as well. I can't see any benefit to the long handle, can you?

There no substantial benefit to the long handle. Some cookers call the long handle "helper handle". It's designed to give the cook better leverage when twisting off the lid, and more distance when carrying around the pressure cooker - in newer German pressure cooker models the handle houses some of the functionality and pressure selection mechanisms.

I spend all of my time ensuring that the long handle doesn't stick out from the cook-top, or over an open flame, so to me they are more of a bother than a help!

Ciao,

L

Thanks. I'm wondering if the long handle also has a role in a slightly different locking mechanism. This Modernist Cuisine picture suggests that is the case: http://www.flickr.com/photos/39553803@N06/8064451499/sizes/h/in/photostream/

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there is some parallax here but there is about 1" clearance to the top of the bottom 6 L pot.!

with the insert placed under the jar. Id probably be able to do 4 at a time which is all I really need.

Your thoughts?

thanks

It looks like it could work. When pressure cooking multiple jars, ensure that they do not touch the base or sides of the pressure cooker since they will be extra-hot and can shock and shatter the glass (you can wrap a wet kitchen towel around them to ensure this).

Also, again to avoid shocking the glass, always use natural release. And remember: the contents of the jar will initially be pressurized so don't hurry to open those pressure cooked jars until they have fully cooled.

Have fun!

Thanks. I'm wondering if the long handle also has a role in a slightly different locking mechanism. This Modernist Cuisine picture suggests that is the case: http://www.flickr.co...in/photostream/

I have both the Kuhn Rikon 5L with the long handle (part of the duo set) and the Kuhn Rikon Braiser 5L (shallow and wide) with two short handles - they both have the blue safety nubs.

I have not sawed them in half to check. : )

But I'm sure they are using the same mechanism. They both have the blue safety nubs. Actually, the short-handled braiser has two short nubs: one under each short handle. Since it is a wider pressure cooker the lid needs to resist more pressure all around so it's got more of everything. The gasket looks like it could replace a bicycle wheel and the lid feels like it could survive any catastrophe.

Ciao,

L


Edited by pazzaglia (log)

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

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I recently bought the 4 liter Fissler Blue Point pressure skillet. Then after reading about other models, I decided to go back and buy the Fissler 10 liter version as well. Unfortunately, although the tops are interchangeable, there doesn't seem to be any way of merely buying the 10 liter bottom part -- you have to buy the complete unit with a second pressure lid. Boo, Fissler! :-(

After talking to a knowledgeable sales person at Las Cosas in Santa Fe, I felt that that smaller pan would be great for cooking veggies, and perhaps small meats, where as the 10 liter version would be good for making a modest amount of stock, or cooking a whlole chicken or pot roast, without having to haul out my specially modified "R2D2" modified All-American Sterilizer, which I use with a 12 liter stainless steel Pasta Pentola inside.

But as I discussed in my blog at http://freshmealssol...g&Itemid=100088, at my altitude (7000 ft.), I really ought to be running at 18.5 psi in order to have the same absolute pressure = temperature that the standard 15 psi recipes call for.

A knowledgeable chef I know in town recommends adding 20% to the time in most recipes in order to make up for the difference in pressure, but I'm wondering if there is a simpler and m,ore accurate way.

According to the manual for the US version (only), the standard 2 line pressure is 15 psi, and the steam release point is set at 18 psi. So I'm wondering -- suppose I use double-sided tape to tape one or more nickels or quarters to the top of the pressure indicator, until it starts to vent steam at the 18 psi point, and then back off the weight just a bit, in order to get close to the 18.5 psi I would like to reach -- say 17.5 psi.

Alternatively, I suppose I could talk to Fissler, and see if I could buy the Asian pressure release value that apparently goes to 21 psi, and use that, backed off slightly.

Does anyone have any experience with using the Fissler at high altitudes, like in Switzerland or Bolivia? Or has anyone used the Asian model for this purpose?


Edited by Robert Jueneman (log)

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According to Modernist Cuisine, it actually does make a difference. The pressure reading from the gauge may not represent the actual pressure inside the vessel if the vessel contains a mix of steam and air instead of just steam. This has to do with Dalton's law of partial pressures. For example, if the pressure cooker has a mixture of 50% air and 50% steam inside, the gauge could indicate a pressure of 1 bar/15 psi while the actual vapor pressure inside the cooker will be 0.5bar, meaning the water will be at 111C/232F, which is not enough for safe sterilization and not the 120C/248F expected temperature.

Spring valves such as are present in Kuhn Rikon models will leave some air trapped as the valve locks, which means you can't be sure of the exact temperature of the water inside. I imagine that you won't have 50% air in there and that the temperature you reach is "close enough" for cooking purposes. When you cook a stock I think it's not a huge issue if it's going at 115C instead of 120C, for example, especially given that you'll expect some variation in the pressure reached by various different pressure cooker models. When you get into canning and are concerned about food sterilization for extended storage though, I guess it's much more important to reach the right temperature for the right amount of time.

The more I think about it the more I'm sure that if it's not for storage or preservation, that small temperature difference will not matter for what I'll be doing with it.

Splice, and anyone else that is interested, I consulted the original source of this information (MC book 2, page 87) as well as my local (hey, Switzerland is not THAT far from me) pressure cooker thermodynamics engineer.

It appears that those of use who pressure cook on induction have already experienced Dalton's law. Pressure cookers on induction reach pressure so quickly that they trap the most air (shorter time to pressure less venting time) than cooker being brought to pressure on gas or electric cooktops. In addition to all of the stainless steel not being heated, and not having any of that "cooking while at pressure" this extra air keeps the pressure cooker from reaching maximum temperature even though the second ring on the bar indicating high pressure (in the case of Kuhns, for example) is being displayed. The results are often under- cooked, if no adjustment is made to the cooking time.

I suspect as induction becomes more common, pressure cooker manufacturers will be pressed to design a more sophisticated valve that actually reacts to temperature instead of pressure.

While I had the engineers' ear, I also asked if it was possible to eliminate 100% of the oxygen from a spring-valve cooker to ensure maximum internal temperature and pressure is reached for the purposes of sterilization or canning.

My source said that the way to do this is to let the cooker go into over-pressure by not turning down the heat to the usual low-heat setting when the cooker reaches pressure, but instead reducing it just slightly and let the cooker vent this way for 5-20 seconds. This will ensure 100% of the air is pushed out of the cooker. Then, you would turn down the heat, as you normally would, for the pressure cooking time.

Ciao,

L


Edited by pazzaglia (log)

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

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It's interesting see how MC@H has created renewed interest in pressure cooking. FWIW, I first got into pressure cooking and canning about fifteen years ago. I started with Kuhn-Rikons, because that's what all the "cool" sources recommended. I soon discovered, though, that these cookers have a dark side, which is that we are, in effect, the thermostat. To maintain proper pressure, the cookers have to be closely monitored, tinkering with the heat to keep the band at the right setting. With short cook times, say less than twenty minutes, not a big deal. For longer times, though, especially for canning, rather a big deal.

Perhaps surprisingly, the solution to this problem is simple. Instead of the cool, new technology, try the old one of weight-regulated cookers (also known as rockers). Unlike spring-regulated cookers, weight-regulated ones can't go over pressure. Any excess heat is dissipated as steam. Yes, they're noisy, but I can deal with that. (For long processing times, I can easily move to another room.) Yes, you have to strike a balance between too much heat and too little, but the error band is wider. Bottom line, I haven't used my K-Rs in ten years. For regular pressure cooking, I use stainless steel Prestos. For canning, I use an 8 qt aluminum Mirro (which has the advantage of a variable weight, supporting 10 lb as well as 15 lb pressure). Oh, and the old technology is cheap. To my mind, win-win. YMMW.

As for the engineering issue, rockers don't have the Dalton's Law problem for the simple reason that they vent continously. And, for that matter, they are easily vented before placing the weight. I will say, though, that I'm not convinced this is an important issue. AFAICT, the boiling point of the water bath is a function of total pressure, not vapor pressure, so that issue is tempest in a teapot, so so speak.

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Thanks pbear. I've been looking at the 8-quart Presto.

I'm most often cooking for 2 people. There's no downside to using a pressure cooker this large for smaller amounts of food, is there? I want the flexibility to cook for larger parties (say, up to 6) as well.

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I'm looking at getting a pressure cooker as well and have been following this topic with interest. I have the same question as patrickamory in that I am wondering also what size to get. We are also just two people but I do cook for more on occasion. As well, I like to make stock.

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just don't forget the height of the bottom container so that you can fit some (at least pint) Mason jars.

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I'm looking at getting a pressure cooker as well and have been following this topic with interest. I have the same question as patrickamory in that I am wondering also what size to get. We are also just two people but I do cook for more on occasion. As well, I like to make stock.

If you like to make stock, I'd recommend the 8 quart/liter size. This is the size I own, and I haven't come across any recipes where it was too big or where I needed to make any adjustments. And it's nice to have that extra size if you want to make larger batches of stock for freezing.

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All American. PERIOD. Built like a tank and will last many lifetimes with little maintenance.

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 2

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It's good to see all the passionate and informed- no, expert replies in this thread.

I bought my first PC from walmart about 8 years ago for $16. It was an aluminum T-fal 4qt jiggle-top. Fantastic for the impoverished college student! It was worn out due to abuse by rapping metal spoons against the lip and marring the edge and went into the recycle bin. The replacement was another walmart aluminum 6qt two handle jiggle-top that served me less than 2 years before upgrading to a 6qt all steel Fagor Rapida Express. I still have that last 6qt waiting to be pressed into service if the need should arise!

The steel construction of the Spanish-made Fagor was a big seller for me and the 20% off coupon from BB&E brought it into my price-range. IIRC it cost me around $35 after taxes.

I'd like to make some points that I don't think have been really touched upon but that are important- especially for the entry level pressure-cooker cook:

1. Be gentle with your spoons, spatulas etc. It's ridiculous to ruin such a great tool by being careless and rough with the sealing surface. Particularly with steel.

2. Keep the gasket clean and dampen it before placing the lid on. As the rubber ages it gets stiffer and the water helps a great deal achieving in a seal without the need for pressing on the lid, gripping the handle, etc...

3. The life of the gasket will be shortened by cranking on the heat and keeping it that way throughout the cooking period. Again once reaching pressure reduce to a gentle hiss...

4. The degree of flame/heat you will need to bring up to pressure and maintain that gentle hiss be it jiggle-top or more modern venting depends on how much liquid and food is in the cooker. More food and liquid obviously needs more heat. This will become second-nature after developing a feel for one's particular model. Overload a PC and you will have problems. Most likely ruined food.

Furthermore, the difference between the steel and the aluminum is vast. The Fagor still looks nearly brand-new while the aluminum looks pretty shabby fairly quickly. That being said don't wait to buy if you can only afford the least expensive jiggle-top. Upgrades will come in time but the experience and pleasure should be come sooner rather than later! I just love doing short ribs in less than 25 minutes. I don't even bother to brown them any more. :wink:

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Hey patrickamory and ElsieD. I have a 4 qt and an 8 qt Presto. As between the two, I use the former probably 90% of the time, as it's plenty large enough for stews with two pounds of boneless meat (even three pounds with bones), plus say a pound of veggies. I use the 8 qt for large meat cuts (e.g., corned beef) and large soups, especially those with beans (for which one needs more headspace). (As Hugh Anderson says, it also would be good for stocks, but I hardly ever make those any more, as I don't have the storage space.) The advantage of a smaller cooker, for recipes where it fits, is that it comes to pressure more quickly, reducing the risk of scorching. How important this is depends on the recipe. Another option, If you want to buy only one cooker, would be a 6 qt. Indeed, that's the size I most often see recommended. This will handle the smaller recipes, obviously, plus most large cuts (e.g., that corned beef I mentioned) and most soups (though not all). It'll come to pressure faster than an 8 qt, but not as quickly as a 4 qt. IOW, it's a compromise, but IMHO a good one..

As for Bjs229's comment, I'll agree that All American is the way to go for canning large quantiies. (My mother has one.) I only can small batches though, usually six 12 oz jelly jars with home made simmer sauces (plus a seventh "blind" jar with water to fill the canner and keep the jars from tipping over), for which the 8 qt Mirro is perfect.

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.... I started with Kuhn-Rikons, because that's what all the "cool" sources recommended. I soon discovered, though, that these cookers have a dark side, which is that we are, in effect, the thermostat. To maintain proper pressure, the cookers have to be closely monitored, tinkering with the heat to keep the band at the right setting. With short cook times, say less than twenty minutes, not a big deal. For longer times, though, especially for canning, rather a big deal.

That is one of the FEW hard-to-find negative dings I gave to Kuhn Rikons during my review. They need and exact amount of heat that is difficult for someone using a gas range and eye.balling the flame to learn. I have used many spring-valve models and let me assure you that its not the rule. Other brands have a less-sensitive sweet-spot, unfortunately, they also require more heat.

Thanks pbear. I've been looking at the 8-quart Presto.

I'm most often cooking for 2 people. There's no downside to using a pressure cooker this large for smaller amounts of food, is there? I want the flexibility to cook for larger parties (say, up to 6) as well.

I just typed an answer to this question in another website's forums.. I don't think anyone will mind if I quote myself

"...an extra-large pressure cooker can affect a pressure cooker recipe two ways:

The first difference of using a larger versus a smaller cooker is the higher the minimum liquid requirement. For example, a 2.5L Kuhn Rikon may only need half a cup of liquid (125ml) to reach pressure, while a 6L needs a little less than a cup (200ml) and an 8L a little more (300ml). European manufacturers don't make pressure cookers any bigger than 10L for the home use but for comparative purposes an AllAmrican Pressure Cooker Canner with the equivalent capacity of 20L states in it's instructions that it needs at least 6 cups (or 2,500ml) of liquid to build pressure.

The minimum liquid requirement is a non-issue if you only plan to boil and steam food in the pressure cooker. But it can make a notable difference if the goal is to braise and roast.

The second difference of using a larger versus smaller cooker is the extra stainless steel that needs to be heated. More stainless steel equals more time to pressure. I measured the time to pressure between the 2.5L and 5L Kuhn Rikon on a gas burner – each with their minimum amount of liquid. On average, the larger pressure cooker took 1 1/2 minutes longer to reach pressure. As the cooker size grows, so will the time needed to reach pressure.

This is "growing" difference between pressure cooker sizes is a non-issue for long-cooking foods, roasts, legumes, ect. But remember, the food is already cooking WHILE the pressure cooker is reaching pressure. So for vegetables or any short-cooking food the extra time to pressure could throw off the timing.

I hope this answers your question about the technical differences between cooking with a smaller vs. larger pressure cooker."

Ciao,

L


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

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Good points. I'll add another, which occurred to me today as I was thinking over why I like having the smaller cooker as well as the large one. It's simply this. Most of the stews I prepare in that cooker are about 2 qt in volume. (When cooked conventionally, they fit easily in a three quart pot with room to stir.) Preparing them in a large cooker would be nuisance, as I'd have to reach through a lot of empty space to get at the onions I saute at the beginning, for example. Doable, but I'm a right tool for the job sort of cook. So, it makes sense for me to have the smaller cooker. Whether it makes sense for someone else would depend on how often they make dishes of that size.

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I recently bought two Fissler pressure cookers, the 4 qt pressure skillet, and the 10 qt version. Both seem to be the cream of the crop, although the Kuhn-Rikon and Fagor both looked good, as well.

The 4 qt version is about 10" wide, and can be used as a ordinary frying pan or skillet, and it has a nice "bumpy" bottom for sautéing meats. It also includes a glass lid, and a steaming/frying basket. As someone else pointed out, although you can buy the pressure skillet bottom separately, it doesn't have that bumpy bottom -- it's smooth. I find that the pressure skillet is quite nice for cooking say some broccoli or other vegetable dish, and I would think that meat balls, etc., would also work nicely.

The 10 qt has a smooth bottom, and it comes with an interior tripod and a perforated stainless steel pan. They also sell (and I intend to buy) an unperforated pan, which might be useful if you didn't want to soak whatever you are cooking in the water. or let all of the juices flow back into the water, e.g, when cooking a ham hock by itself.

In retrospect, I wish I had bought the four piece "Quattro large" version, which include the glass lid, the pressure cooker lid, and the 4qt pressure skillet and basket, as well as the 8 qt. (not 10 qt.) pressure cooker bottom. Since the lid will fit either pressure cooker, and because the lid is the most expensive part, by buying one lid and two bottoms, you can save quite a bit of money.

Unfortunately, they don't sell the 4 qt and the 10 qt as a combination. Boo! :-( And you can't buy just the 8 qt. bottom by itself, either, even as a spare part, or I might order one. Double boo! :-(

I have a call and a note into Fissler USA, asking if there is some way that I can purchase the Asian "Turbo" pressure valve set. It is supposed to go up to a third ring, at 21 psi, and at my elevation (7000 ft.), I need to run at 18.5 psi to reach the same temperature and pressure that the sea level recipe writers reach with their 15 psi values. Unfortunately, it's been a week now, and still no response, so I'm going to have to bug them again, or try to contact the factory in Germany.


Edited by Robert Jueneman (log)

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I have a call and a note into Fissler USA, asking if there is some way that I can purchase the Asian "Turbo" pressure valve set. It is supposed to go up to a third ring, at 21 psi, and at my elevation (7000 ft.), I need to run at 18.5 psi to reach the same temperature and pressure that the sea level recipe writers reach with their 15 psi values.

You don't have to have a pressure cooker that meets the cooking times stated for pressure cookers operated at sea-level. You only need to slightly extend the cooking times to achieve the same results. I have not had personal experience with cooking at high altitudes (I am literally at the sea, at sea level), but a reader of mine lives at 5,000 and works at 7,000 feet and she tells me that it's only a few extra minutes of cooking time for most recipes.

In the time that you've had your current pressure cookers, have you experienced any undercooked food? If so, what recipes/main ingredients?

Ciao,

L

P.S. I always write my cooking times in ranges to accommodate both stove-top and electric pressure cookers, the longer time may also work for stove tops operating at high altitudes.


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

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Robert is the Fissler a venting style or is it like the Kuhn Rikon and doesn't constantly vent? I have an older Fagor and it vents all the time, my stocks always come out much less quantity than the recipe says and I have to fiddle with my stove a lot.

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