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pressure cookers

Paul's picture

My wife would like a pressure cooker, any recommendations on brands? How much use does one get? Anyone carry a selection? any problems with pressure cookers?

Jeff_'s picture

(post #53608, reply #1 of 16)

A spinoff of Paul's request for information. . .

I'd like to hear some informed opinions about the general usefullness of a pressure cooker. I do not currently own one but have been considering a purchase for some time. I realize a pressure cooker can greatly reduce cooking time, but do flavor, texture, etc suffer? Or does pressure cookery actually help to infuse flavors more quickly than conventional cookery?


marycatherine_'s picture

(post #53608, reply #2 of 16)

I too am interested in presssure cooking. My nana was a terrific cook and made many dishes using one, but I do remember the terror in the kitchen; sometimes the gauge flying off-what a scene that was. Are any of the newer models easier/safer to use, any recommendations? thanks

MEAN_CHEF's picture

(post #53608, reply #3 of 16)

I would put the pressure cooker on the list of expendable or useless appliances. I'M sure some SGEH will point out the virtues of cooking beans in a pressure cooker. Big deal. Just like a rice cooker - takes up valuable cupboard space.
My motto is if you can do it just as well with traditional cookware, why buy a gadget to do the same thing. There are a few things like a cast iron fry pan for which there is no substitute.

Carolina's picture

(post #53608, reply #4 of 16)

Since I'm the one you called a SGEH (whatever the heck that means): let it be said, I have never used, nor do I intend to use, a pressure cooker. MC, you want to explain?

Donna's picture

(post #53608, reply #5 of 16)

With a few minor modifications, a pressure cooker can make an excellent device to make homemade moonshine in!

jill's picture

(post #53608, reply #6 of 16)

I grew up with a mum who worked fulltime as well as looking after us kids, she often used her pressure cooker for making stews and soups. It is mainly a time saving devise and if food is your love but work pays the bills I say use such appliances as pressure cookers. The quality or texture does'nt change either, if you use a pressure cooker. I won't reccommend a brand as I'm in Australia and brands are usually different here.

Rebecca's picture

(post #53608, reply #7 of 16)

I've wanted a pressure cooker for a while so that I can cook a variety of meals in a short time w/out advance planning. I've read that risotto is very easy to make in a pc & we like bean soups & other stews a lot & these are good in a pc. I could make these at 6 pm if I forgot to get started earlier in the day. My name is Rebecca & I'm an appliance-liker.

Cook's Illustrated did an article on pc's (#21, July/August '96) which addressed what to cook in them, gave some recipes, and made brand recommendations. Top-rated was Magefesa telephone (800)923-8700 (mail-order only). I've read that a 6- or 8-qt size should be good for most things (good size to start with). Second best rated was Kuhn-Rikon Duromatic, more expensive than Magefesa. Not recommended are Fagor Multirapid and Monix Vitralia Press. Basically, you want a spring-valve model, an improvement over "jiggle-top" models.

BTW, thanks to Mean Chef for the rice-cooking info. (start on the stove & finished in oven). It was great - so easy, too!!

Karen's picture

(post #53608, reply #8 of 16)

I would have to disagree with Mean Chef on this one.(Although I will go along with him on the rice cooker, unless you do a lot of rice and need to keep it warm for long periods after coooking. )
I have two pressure cookers (not counting my canning cooker) and use them constantly, as does my mother, and as did my grandmother. The general rule of thumb is that you can cut your cooking time by about 2/3 by using one. They also do the best job for beans and brown rice -- both in texture and digestibility. And you can't beat being able to put together a quick chicken stock or soup in about 30 minutes -- with great flavor. The new ones are absolutely safe as well. Additionally, the quick cooking is supposed to preserve more vitamins - not having an analytical lab handy, I'll just have to say that things taste good and the theory makes sense.

I would recommend going with a Kuhn-Rikon, Fagor, or Magefesa. These three have consistently rated as the top three, with various magazines liking one over the other at diffferent times, but it's always these 3 at the top. (I have a Fagor, but my decision was based on price at the time of purchase -- I would have bought any of the top 3.) Sitram also makes one, and if it's as good as their cookware, it might be worth a shot. I know Zabar's in NY carries the Sitram, Fagor and Kuhn-Rikon models. And, of all places,the Seeds of Change catalog carries the Magefesa. I would also check with the Professional Cutlery Direct and "a cook's wares" catalogs. In terms of size, I would suggest a 4 or 6 qt one to start. Keep in mind that, the bigger the cooker, the longer it takes to heat up to high pressure. I usually use my 4qt for after work meals and my 6 qt for larger amounts of stocks, stews or soups.

Lorna Sass is the goddess of pressure cooker cookbook authors, and has several in print. Lalacamita has also done a good book as well. And Michelle Urvater has a few recipes in her original Monday to Friday book. You can convert just about any recipe to a pressure cooker -- the newer ones don't require very much liquid because they don't release as much steam during cooking -- so you aren't limited to soups and stews and potroasts.

Rebecca's picture

(post #53608, reply #9 of 16)

Karen, which Lorna Sass books do you recommend? I have one of her books & like it a lot. I've seen Veg. Cooking Under Pressure. Any particular recipe favorites that I should make right away when I get started?

Thanks, Rebecca

Chiffonade_'s picture

(post #53608, reply #10 of 16)

If your wife would like a pressure cooker, it is probably to save time. Tough cuts of meat, artichokes, and other dense long-cooking items benefit greatly by the use of a pressure cooker.

True, if a person has the time, any food cooked in a pressure cooker can be prepared using traditional cookware. However, your needs will dictate whether this is a "frivilous purchase" or "wise investment."

Re: Problems with pressure cookers...the newer, more modern ones sold today have far fewer problems than those of yesteryear. There is a TV commercial for paper towels where they show a pressure cooker blowing up - this is staged. As a matter of fact, the paper towel company was forced by the makers of pressure cookers to display a disclaimer at the bottom of the screen that said, "If used as per directions, there is no danger associated with the use of pressure cookers."

Cook's Illustrated did a test of pressure cookers in their August 1996 issue. The top rated cooker was called Magefesa (it was a spring-valve cooker). The test was done on a model called Super Rapida - and it retailed for $99. The top rated Developed Weight Valve cooker tested and rated highest was by Sitram, the model was Prima and it retailed for $140.

I remember many meals prepared by my mother in a pressure cooker. The little petcock dancing on top of the pot meant that something savory and deeply flavored was destined for the table in short order. Talk about Pavlovian response!

I suggest your wife do some homework and figure out the type, capacity, and price range in which she is interested. She should also determine whether or not the cooker will be used enough to warrant purchasing one.

Paul's picture

(post #53608, reply #11 of 16)

I appreciate the response to my original inguiry, I have been checking around with the major department stores and home stores, no one except Williams Sonoma carry the high end pressure cookers. I see from the postings that Magefesa Super Rapida was top rated by one magazine, I found on the internet the Magefesa is now called Rapid II, and the posting indicated the Fagor Multirapid was not recommended, and on the internet I found the Fagor Classic. I wonder if there were any substantial changes to either of these 2 models, or basically was there a minor change to change the name. Why was the Fagor not recommended? I called the local Williams Sonoma and they have Fagor, yet their catalog carries Ruhn Rikon no model name. I suppose we can't go wrong with any of the top names mentioned, but confused about the postings pro and con about Fagor, did the model that was not recommended get discontinued or did they make some minor changes and renamed it with no substantial improvement, or is this a substantially different model?

Karen_Koch's picture

(post #53608, reply #12 of 16)

Her Veggie Cooking under Pressure is my standard reference, but she also has one that includes meats and is, I beleive, entitled "Cooking under Pressure". Her other book, which is not just pressure cooker,also has some pressure cooker recipes -- the title starts as "Recipes for an ecological ____" I can't remember the rest of the title. (It might end with Kitchen) Her new "Shortcut Vegetarian" also has some recipes,although the main premise of that book is that good quality organic ingredients such as canned beans are quite good in a pinch.

I also misspoke on the author of one of the books - it is lacalamita not lalacamita.

There is an absolutely wonderful tomato soup recipe in the lorna sass book that we just made the other weekend when it was 20 below here in MN with tomatoes frozen this summer. There's also a garlicy lentil soup that even converted some lentil-haters.
I'll take a look at it tonight and send on a few suggestions.

Now that I think about it, Rebecca Wood's "Splendid Grains" also has some good pressure cooker recipes. She swears its the only way to cook brown rice.

KarenK's picture

(post #53608, reply #13 of 16)

I rummaged thru a few of my books last night, and I can't believe I almost forgot about Pat Dailey's "The Best Pressure Cookbook Ever". She also has a book entitled "One Pot Sunday Suppers" that is excellent, and a lot of the recipes are perfect for pressure cookers as well.

From the Dailey Pressure Cooker book: (another favorite other than this recipe is the Malay Curried Pork and Potatoes on page 88)

"Pot Roast with Farm Vegetables"

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast

2 onions, one large and one small

3 celery ribs, bias-cut in 1 inch pieces

3 carrots, peeled, bias-cut in 1 inch pieces

1 parsnip (I've made with and without this -- both good)

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 cup diced tomatoes, fresh or canned

3/4 cup Beef Stock(page 26) or canned broth

2 medium red potatoes cut into wedges

1. Heat oil in pressure cooker over medium high heat. Add the roast and cook uncovered, turning until brown, 6-8 minutes. Chop the small onion and add to the cooker along with 1 cleery rib, 1 carrot, the parsnip, bay leaves, paprika, salt and pepper.
2. Cover and bring up o high pressure. Reduce heat to stabilize and cook for 25 minutes. Release pressure; remove meat ans set aside, covered to keep warm. Skim the fat from the pan juices and remove the bay leaves. Puree the juices and vooked veggies.
3. Return puree to cooker if you did in a belnder or food processor, cut the remaining onion into wedges and add to the pan along with veggies that were set aside earlier. Cover and bring up to high pressure again - reduce heat to stabilize and cook 6 minutes. Release pressure and serve.

NOTE: When in a hurry I've just thrown everything in together and cooked for 25 minutes. The veggies are a little soft, but, they are in a pot-roast cooked in the oven too.

For the Lorna Sass "Veggies Under Pressure" book, they are a number of recipes that are good in there, including the Garlic Lovers Lentil soup on page 37 and ; Winter Vegetable Ragout on page 103; and Risotto with Porcini on page 154. Here's the recipe for the tomato soup I mentioned yesterday:

"Intensely Tomato-Roasted Pepper Soup"

1/2 cup water

3 pounds beefsteak tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks

2 large red bell peppers, roasted, seeded and cut into eighths

1 cup coarsely chopped onions

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 large bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads (optional but highly recc'd)

salt to taste

1/3 cup fresh basil or dill

1. Bring the water to a boil in the cooker as you prepare, and add the tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic, bay leaves, saffron, and salt.

2. Lock the lid in place and bring to high pressure over high heat. (Use a flame tamer if thin cooker) Lower the heat to just maintain high pressure and cook for 3 minutes. Allow pressure to come down naturally or quick release by placing cooker under cold running water.

3. Remove lid. Puree the soup -- a food mill works best, but food processor or regular or immersion blender is fine.(Unless you used whole and/or unseeded tomatoes-- see note) Return puree to pot and reheat.

4. Garnish with basil or dill before serving.

NOTE: I used dried dill or basil -- wasn't about to make a run to the store in a 20 below afternoon. I also just tossed whole unpeeled and frozen tomatoes and frozen halves of roasted peppers into the pot with about another 2 tablespoons of water and added 2 minutes to the cooking time for thawing. Running the soup thru the food mill removed seeds and skins.

Rebecca's picture

(post #53608, reply #14 of 16)

Thanks so much for the recipes, Karen! They sound great.. just the sort of stuff I like. Rebecca

Barbara_Huguenin's picture

(post #53608, reply #15 of 16)

I bought two Fagor Multi Rapid pressure cookers--one for me & one for my daughter for her birthday. The price was right! We've both been using our pressure cookers since November '98 & we're both very pleased with the results. They do a great job, & they're very quiet compared to the old jiggle tops.

I've been pressure cooking for 30+ years & my mother used pressure cookers long before I was born. I only know of one instance where Mom had a problem with her cooker & that was in the '50s. I've never had a problem with any pressure cooker. Anyone who wants to get started pressure cooking should not worry about all the old horror stories. Read & follow the use & care directions & your cooker should last for MANY years.

Mark_'s picture

(post #53608, reply #16 of 16)

Hi I dont know if you heared about Greenpot?
Greenpot is a new generation of cooking pots.
It works on the principle of self-maintaining heat.
Once you bring the ingredients to boil in the inner
pot, switch off the stove. Remove the inner pot from the heat source and place it inside the outer pot. Now you can go to work or take it with you to an outing. The Greenpot will finish its cooking by itself.(remember no more electricity or gas and most important of all, your time, required to finish cooking your meal). After the meal is cooked the Greenpot becomes a food warmer(it will hold the temp.above 170F for 12 hours.It is not a pressure cooker.That why Greenpot guarantees worry-free cooking, never burns food,an energy saver up to 90%
loks in vitamins and nutients for beter nutrition.
I'm using this pot every day and is just wonderfull.
The Greeenpot is available in Canada, but they will deliver. Tell.(416) 490-8094 Fax(416) 490-0157 I'm strongly recomending this pot to all my woodworking frends.