Pressure Cooker Cooking - The Right And Wrong Ways - Pressure Cooker Cooking Blog at - 250082

Pressure Cooker Cooking

Pressure Cooker Cooking - the right and wrong ways 
Sep. 14, 2011 10:54 am 
Updated: Sep. 16, 2011 9:40 pm
I finally received two Lorna Sass pressure cooker (PC) cookbooks and have compared her advice on troubleshooting with my experiences. Here's what I've learned:

Problem bringing the PC up to pressure (it's taking too long):

Lid isn't locked: As a new PC cook, I frequently forgot to do this. I've also forgotten to turn the pressure gage to the proper setting. In my case, I accidentally pushed the gage off of the start position by brushing the lid against another object.
You've started building pressure at too low of heat: Don't use a heat diffuser when you are trying to build up pressure. If you need to use a diffuser, place it under the PC after it achieves pressure.
Insufficient liquid in the cooker: I experienced this when I tried to re-pressurize rice. All I had to do was just place the lid back on the pot and let the rice sit for a few minutes more.
Cooker is filled beyond the recommended capacity.
TIPS: Heat the liquid (up to boiling!) prior to pressurizing the PC. Do this during the time you are preparing the meal. - Don't put cold things in the pot.
Water drips down the sides of the cooker:
The gasket isn't forming a tight seal: I did not put the lid on correctly the first time I used my PC and didn't know that steam coming out of the sides of the lid was a no-no. I do not know why this happened as I followed instructions (or so I thought), but now I know how securing the lid feels to the touch. It should have significant resistance when closing.
The gasket is no longer pliable: The recommendation is to always oil the gasket after use. I've usually seen Olive Oil recommended, but in one case (for an old style PC) I've seen petroleum jelly recommended. I also wonder if a product like Crisco would work.
 Liquid or foam appears at the pressure vent (the area where you set the pressure):
Immediately turn off the heat. The pressure is too high.
The PC is filled beyond capacity.
Your food is foaming: Rice, beans, and some other foods foam when boiled. Always add oil (usually Olive Oil) to these foods to reduce foaming.
Your PC's pressure indicator doesn't pop up after the pressure gage has been steaming for a while (see picture below):
Shake the PC a bit or lightly tap (jiggle) the indicator with a spoon: This troubles me a bit. I've had some problems with this, but I must admit that the problems happened when I did something wrong. From this point on, I'm going to log my experiences related to the indicator in hopes that everything goes smoothly in the future.
Make sure that the pop up indicator is clean and loose.
After bringing your PC up to pressure, heat was lowered too far causing the pressure and the pop up indicator to drop.
See comments about bringing the PC up to pressure, above.
Food burns on the bottom of the PC:
After bringing your PC up to pressure, place a heat defuser under it.
Place solid food in the steamer pan.
Place a trivet (or balled aluminum) under a secondary pot (such as a casserole dish) to keep it from resting directly on the bottom surface of the PC.
Bring contents to a boil before locking the lid.
If you brown food prior to pressure cooking it, brown it in another pan.
The cookbooks I referenced by Lorna Sass are are Cooking Under Pressure (2009 edition), and Pressure Perfect (2004 edition).  For more information visit her website at Her blogs are at Pressure Cooking with Lorna Sass and Lorna Sass at Large.
Prior to pressurizing, steam comes out of a relief valve near the pressure gage.
Photo Detail
Sep. 16, 2011 9:40 pm
Thanks for the info! I will work up the courage to get mine up and running one of these days!
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Weehawken, New Jersey, USA

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About Me
My name is Karen Little. I'm a travel writer (see and adult kick scooter evangelist ( My current love is going sightseeing around the USA on my trusty kick scooter and encouraging others to do the same!
My favorite things to cook
I became a vegan (vegetarian) in January 2011, then switched to being a modified vegetarian in August. While I still primarily eat vegetarian meals, I now eat meat a few times a week. That said, I enjoy vegetable and grain-based meals very much. They are great on the tummy as well as the budget.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My mom's favorite dishes included hotdogs, baloney, and undercooked chicken. My mother-in-law's favorite dish was pot roast. As I grew older, my favorite foods were all served in fast-food restaurants. I now live somewhat near "Carlos Bakery" (owned by "The Cake Boss") in Hoboken, NJ. I would regularly buy Bear Claws there, but can't because of all the tourists vying to get in front of me. TIP: If you can actually get in Carlos Bakery, make sure you leave with a box full of fresh Bear Claws.
My cooking triumphs
I am currently excited about using a pressure cooker.
My cooking tragedies
Happily, I don't have any tragedies, but you never know what Anthony Bourdain would say about my culinary skills. Then again, considering the types of things he eats from street vendors, maybe he'd be really pleased.
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