The new, spring-valve designs are so much
easier to use and so much more precise than
the older designs. Introduced by Kuhn Rikon
in Switzerland in 1949 but only available in
the United States since 1990, this brand uses
a precision spring inside the valve to set pressure.
Pressure is indicated by a pop-up pin
or rod. As the pressure builds, the rod rises.
Marks on the rod indicate the pressure that
is being reached. These new, 2nd generation
pressure cooker are a "closed system"
and very little steam is released. As a result
these cookers are much quieter than those with
weight valves. They also need less cooking liquid
and fewer heat adjustments.
pop-up pressure indicator, shown here on the
Kuhn-Rikon Duromatic pressure cooker, is also
the Quick Release button. Although you can use
your finger to push the button sown to release
steam, I found it easier to use a wooden
spoon. Its not only easier on my hand but it
keeps you well away from any hot steam.
Their new design makes these new spring valve
cookers more precise than the classic jiggle-top
models; bottom construction and steam-release
features are also important. Although pressure
cookers have been marketed for home cooking
in the United States since before World War
II, the recent arrival of second-generation
spring-valve designs from European makers has
revived enthusiasm for this timesaving kitchen
The newer models are also much quieter when
cooking and hardly make any sounds. Unlike the
older style, first
generation, jiggle tops, very little steam
escapes. The new models come to pressure very
fast, and they also hold heat for a long time
even after you remove it from the stove.
The less water used in cooking the less
nutrients are lost. If a pressure cooker
is perfectly sealed; less steam is released
during cooking so you will need less liquids
to cook the recipe, and the flavors become more
concentrated in stews and risottos. In testing
the spring-valve cookers against the "jiggle
top" model I measured to see how much water
had evaporated. The test was simple, I added
1 quart of tap water to the cooker and brought
it to high pressure, reduced the heat to maintain
high pressure for five minutes, then let the
pressure release naturally, that is, without
using cold water lost almost 3/4 cup of water.