Move over, slow cooker. The electric pressure cooker has taken center stage when it comes to favorite time-saving kitchen gadgets. With its ability to stew, braise, simmer and steam mouthwatering meals in just minutes, this device has become a beloved staple in many homes for weeknight meals.
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How Do Pressure Cookers Work?
Electric pressure cookers literally cook food under pressure. As the unit heats up, pressure builds until the appliance is fully pressurized, which can take anywhere from five to 40 minutes (cooking times vary depending on the recipe). Once cooking is complete, pressure is released either manually or naturally, depending on the recipe's instructions, before you can remove the lid. With pressure cooking, your time and energy used are reduced by as much as 70 percent.
How Much Are Pressure Cookers?
These cookers offer numerous settings, and depending on the cooker, there are specific buttons to perfectly cook soups, stews, meat, poultry, rice, porridge and even baby food. Many also feature settings for browning and slow cooking. These appliances range in price with brands such as T-fal, Farberware and Black & Decker offering options for under $100. For about $100, pressure cookers from Instant Pot, Cuisinart and Gourmia provide better results, especially for hard-to-cook foods like rice. At $250, Breville's appliance comes with numerous ways to customize your cooking settings and a detailed list of food options.
Trouble Shooting Seal Issues
Regardless of the cooker you choose, if steam continues to release during pressurized cooking or the lid won't close, then your cooker isn't sealing and your food won't cook properly. There are a variety of reasons your pressure cooker may not seal.
Check the Lid
Is it closed properly? Pressure cookers will only begin pressurizing once the lid is fully closed and locked into place. Once closed, the lid will not open if the appliance is filled with pressure.
Examine the Sealing Ring
The sealing ring is a large, silicone ring designed to seal the gap between the lid and the inner pot. First, check for damage. If the ring is removed with too much force, it may become deformed or damaged. Check carefully for cracks, cuts or deterioration. Misshapen, deteriorating or damaged rings will cause gaps between the lid and the pot, allowing steam to escape. Pressure will not build properly if steam can escape. In this case, you will need to replace the ring.
Next, make sure the lid and ring are properly installed. The lid will not seal if the ring isn't fully locked into place. Check by pressing the ring firmly around the entire lid, ensuring each segment is entirely secured in its rack.
The Steam Release Valve Isn’t in the Proper Position
The steam release valve (also called the pressure limit valve) must be secured in the "sealing" position in order to begin the cooking process. The cooker will not fully seal for pressure cooking until the valve is set in this position.
Examine the Valve
The steam release valve has its own silicone ring. This ring can wear out over time. If steam regularly leaks from the valve once it is secured in place and cooking begins, then the ring may need to be replaced.
Is It Clean?
All pieces of your pressure cooker should be cleaned after each use. Food debris in the sealing ring or a dirty valve could be the culprit. When cleaning these pieces, simply rinse with water and then dry with a soft cloth.
It May Be Too Hot
If you just used the browning function, your pressure cooker may be too hot to begin pressurizing. It will turn off for a few minutes to cool down before pressurized cooking can begin. For some pressure cookers, you may need to wait two or three minutes after browning before you can begin pressurized cooking.