Pressure Cooker Tips and Hacks

Pressure Cooker tips and hacks

Have you ever wondered :

  • Why there's liquid oozing out of your pressure cooker?
  • How come your whistle is sounding different?
  • Why your pressure cooker is not building pressure?

If these questions have come to your mind before, you are reading the right article. In this article we will address some common and important questions about everyday issues that people face while pressure cooking. We will also provide some easy hacks to elevate your pressure cooking experience. 

When it comes to pressure cooking, often the first thing to deal with misconceptions and incomplete information that has been circling for decades. These are often handed over from generation to generation.

Pressure cookers are actually based on some robust scientific principles. These principles apply to all the pressure cookers in the market - regardless of brand, looks or design. This means that all pressure cookers are bound within the scope of the science that they are built around. While design and details play a major role in the experience of cooking, it helps to keep some simple things in mind while pressure cooking.

These are some of the pressure cooker issues that actually have a simple scientific answer behind them:

1. Overflowing of liquid on the lid of the pressure cooker

If liquid is filled more than the optimum level required based on the weight of the ingredients, it results in overflowing on top of the lid. It is important to keep space for the steam to build up. Based on the type of food you are cooking, never fill up your pressure cooker more than half or three quarters at most. To know the optimal amount of liquid to be used while pressure cooking, refer here.

Overflowing could also be a function of a damaged part of the pressure cooker , specifically the gasket , chamber or vent tube. Over time , these parts may sustain some damage due to wear and tear. Check for blockages in the vent tube and damage to the pan or handle of the pressure cooker. 

2. Foaming of liquid on top of the pressure cooker lid

There are some types of foods that are likely to steam naturally. Legumes, lentils and rice are naturally foaming. They are also likely to cause blockage in the vent tube since foam carries particulate matter along with it. There are three ways to avoid foaming of liquid on top of the lid :

  • Add a teaspoon of oil or ghee to naturally foaming ingredients before pressure cooking them
  • Never fill lentils, beans, legumes or rice with more than half liquid in the pressure cooker. In fact the best way to cook these ingredients is to close the lid without the pressure regulator , after you fill food and water and let the steam build up on high and put the pressure regulator on after steam begins to pass. This is a good way to check any blockages in the vent tube before cooking.
  • Let them cook with the natural release method. The lid should open by itself naturally after the steam escapes completely.

3. Pressure Cooker isn't building enough pressure

 If you feel that your pressure cooker isn't building pressure, the first thing to check is if there is any component that is missing in the pressure cooker. To know all the components of a pressure cooker, refer here.

There are some other common reasons why your pressure cooker might not be building pressure. 

  • The pressure cooker is not closed properly - Check that the handle markers are aligned and the gasket is inserted properly.
  • Wear and Tear - Over time, the gasket of the pressure cooker can suffer wear and tear and would need to be replaced. If you're using the pressure cooker more than 2-3 times a week, it makes sense to change the gasket every year.¬†
  • Not enough liquid - If there is too little liquid, the cooker will be unable to build pressure. As a rule of thumb, the minimum liquid in order for a pressure cooker to build pressure should be between 200-220 ml. Do note that the amount of liquid would depend on the recipe, the size and brand of pressure cooker

4. Blockage of pressure cooker steam vent 

There are some foods that tend to block the steam vent. Food like cereals, pasta, rice and other mushy ingredients rise with the steam and lodge into the steam vent and obstruct the steam from escaping. This could be extremely dangerous and is often the beginning of pressure cooker nightmares. To avoid that from happening -

  • Clean the steam vent regularly
  • Do not overfill the pressure cooker with liquid or ingredients
  • After adding food and liquid in the pressure cooker, put on the lid without the pressure regulator and let the steam escape from the vent tube first. This acts as a safety check before you start pressure cooking
  • Never cover the steam vent with cloth or obstruct it in any way

5. Steam leaking from the pressure cooker handles

The pressure cooker handles are designed a way that they do not get hot and are not in the position of the steam. If your handles are leaking steam or liquid, it is a sign that one or more of the parts of the pressure cooker is damaged. 

The most common one to get damaged is the pressure cooker gasket. Also check for damages to the body of the pressure cooker.

6. The whistle of the pressure cooker is sounding different than usual

Are you getting a feeling that your pressure cooker whistle is not sounding as it should? It probably means low pressure steam is escaping the chamber before it has time to build up. When the steam builds to enough pressure, it makes the pressure regulator rock producing that breaking whistle sound. Do remember though that if you are working with a new brand of pressure cooker, it could be that the pressure cooker whistle will sound different due to a different weight, style or make of key components like the pressure cooker regulator. If you feel that the steam is leaking before being build up, check one of the following :

  • If the lid has been closed properly
  • If any of the parts of the pressure cooker are damaged
  • Is the safety gasket is installed properly?

7. The lid is jammed and won't come out

Your pressure cooker lid is most probably jammed due to pressure still being trapped inside. While pressure cooking food, it is most advisable to let the pressure subside naturally. But if you would like to open the lid that you feel is jammed, it is best to release the steam pressure with a fork tugging under the pressure regulator or put the cooker under water for a couple of minutes and removing the pressure valve. Let the pressure cooker cool before you try any of this.

Ideally there isn't any food that cannot be cooked in a pressure cooker. But it is always better not to cook delicate meats, bread or cookies in a pressure cooker. A little bit of common scientific knowledge, awareness and simple checks can ensure that your pressure cooker lasts you a long time without any issues. 

Stahl's safety assured pressure cookers are checked in 18 different ways before they reach you. Buy here