Using a Pressure Cooker Safely
by Lee Wyatt
(last updated February 11, 2019)
Knowing the proper method of using a pressure cooker safely is immensely important if you are going to use one in your kitchen. Simply put, a pressure cooker does its job with the help of heat and pressure, to cook food quickly. When used incorrectly you can easily end up with what amounts to a small bomb in your kitchen. While this may sound a little scary, don't worry. Using a pressure cooker safely is remarkably easy.
- Read the directions. As with anything, you really need to read the directions before you start using it. While these particular directions allow you to use most types of pressure cookers, the instructions from the manufacturer will always trump what you find here.
- Read your recipe. Before you begin putting your pressure cooker together, make sure that you read through your recipe a couple of times. This will allow you to be familiar with the requirements of the recipe, and how long to cook the food for.
- Check the cooker. Look over the pressure cooker to ensure that it is in good useable condition. For example there is usually a rubber seal found around the lip of the pressure cooker or attached to the lid. This seal needs to be flexible, clean, and intact, not dry or cracked Furthermore, you will want to make sure that it is clean and has no food particles stuck on it.
- Check all the parts. Don't forget to check the other parts to the cooker as well. This means that you will need to check the jiggler, and the pressure valve on the lid at a minimum. When you check the jiggler (the weight), make sure that it is the same one that came with the unit. The wrong weight can result in either not enough, or too much steam building up in the cooker (both of which would be very bad). Check to ensure that the pressure valve in the lid is clean, loose, and moves up and down freely.
- Prepare the food. When the cooker is ready to go, begin preparing your food. Follow the directions of your recipe, making sure that you don't skip any steps to ensure a high quality meal.
- Place food. Carefully place the food to be cooked in the pressure cooker, on the rack that is at the bottom of the cooker. With the food in place, begin sealing the cooker up. This is done by putting the lid on, and aligning the handles on the lid and the pot. Align everything properly, and then using the locking mechanism for the unit.
- Use the cooker. Place the now assembled and prepared pressure cooker on the top of your stove. Turn the temperature to medium high, and place the jiggler over the steam vent. As the cooker is working, the valve will pop up, so be careful that you don't knock off or remove the jiggler. Look at the jiggler and ensure that you have what looks like a nice rocking motion. In the event that it is emitting a hissing sound and looks like it will blow up, turn the heat down. If an emergency develops you will need to carefully remove the cooker from the heat source to help alleviate the problem.
- Allow it to cool. Never remove the lid while it the cooker is still hot. Instead, remove the heat and allow it all to cool down on its own. Make sure that you follow the directions of the recipe as written, but do not remove the lid (or the jiggler weight) while the jiggler is still moving or until the valve goes down.
When you have finished cooking your food, make sure that completely remove all of the food from the pressure cooker. Additionally, make sure that you clean the pressure cooker properly. When you have the pressure cooker cleaned properly, dry each of the components and store them properly.