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Viva the Difference - A New Generation in Modern Pressure Cookery

There are many improvements and safety features in the new, modern pressure cookers that make them 100% safe and a joy to use. While features may vary slightly between brands and models, here are some things that make 2nd generation pressure cookers so different than the old style, 1st generation pressure cookers.

A Closer Look at the Features of a Modern Pressure Cooker

Safety Locks

Stainless Steel

Improved Pressure Valves

Accurate Pressure Indicators

New Pressure Release Methods

Heavy 3 Ply Base

Feature

Benefits

Heavy Gauge, 18/10 Stainless Steel Construction Throughout

Stainless steel will not react to foods the way aluminum will; it will withstand the rigorous conditions of pressure cooking; it's strong, durable and impervious to common kitchen utensils, withstands almost any heat source; the pot can be cleaned in the dishwater.

A Spring Valve Pressure Regulator

Unlike the original design of the old-fashioned movable or fixed weight pressure regulators, these new spring-loaded valves make modern pressure cookers a closed system with very little loss of moisture. This translates into a real benefit as only a very small amount (1/2 cup) of liquid is needed to pressurize the cooker, per serving the most nutrients by shortening the time foods are exposed to heat and water. This also means an even shorter time before your dinner is on the table, and minimizes the possibility of scorching.

A Heavy, Encapsulated, Three Ply Base

The heavy, encapsulated, three ply base allows modern pressure cookers to heat evenly without developing hotspots. This feature allows the cooker to heat up rapidly, and requires a much lower heat source to maintain even pressure throughout the length of the cooking period -- without constantly fiddling with the stove to adjust the heat. The 3 ply base helps to avoid burning food, or scorching foods that are in direct content with the bottom of the pot.

A Quick Release Mechanism

A quick release feature allows steam to be safely expelled without losing heat. This method should not be confused with the cold water release method which not only drops the pressure but lowers the heat, but immediately stops the cooking process. The quick release method allows cooks to interrupt the cooking process to add other ingredients, or check for doneness, without significantly lowering the temperature of the cooker. Cooking can be resumed very quickly again when the lid is closed and the heat turned back up.

An Advanced Safety System

The modern pressure cookers are 100% safe. They have redundant safety features that make pressure cooking practically foolproof.  A series of five or more pressure release mechanisms are designed to safely vent off steam in the event of an over-pressure.

Long-term Warranties

A modern pressure cooker can be expected to last 25 years. Look for at least a ten year warranty to protect your investment. Read carefully, some manufacturers place unreasonable limits or restrictions on what they cover.

Standard 15psi Pressure Setting

While some high-end pressure cookers offer a choice of pressure settings, it's an absolute necessity to choose a brand capable of 15psi because the vast majority of pressure cooker recipes -- including the ones in my upcoming cookbook -- will use this setting.

Accurate Pressure Indicator

The new modern cookers offer a clear visual indicator showing exactly what pressure is in the cooker. This takes the guess work out of pressure cooking so you know exactly when the pot is pressurized, make the heat adjustment and when the pot is depressurized and it is safe to open the lid.

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Features of a Modern Pressure Cooker Explained

Safety Locks

FagorAn option on some brands is an additional safety "lid lock". This extra reminder requires users to push the lock closed to build pressure, and then release it after the pressure drops before opening the lid.

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Never attempt to force the lid open, if the lid appears to the sticky when opening or closing, try adding a bit of oil over the rim of the bottom before cooking the next time. Be sure to oil your gasket after every cleaning to keep it soft and pliable. Often a hard to close or open lid is the first sign that you need to replace the gasket.

Accurate Pressure Indicators

 Kuhn Rikonthe new modern cookers offer a choice of preset pressure levels with a clear visual indicator showing exactly what pressure is in the cooker. The Kuhn Rikon pictured here, shows which pressure is used with marked color bands, with the upper mark indicating 10PSI and the bottom mark 15PSI.

The Faqor brand uses a convenient dial to establish the pressure setting and release pressure. Pressure is indicated by the small yellow pop up below the dial.

spring_1.jpgThe WMF brand has a large pop up with bands of different colors that show which pressure This indicator is placed on the handle.

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In the simplest design, as shown in this Leyse brand, shows a single pressure level as indicated by a colored popup.

New Pressure Release Methods

A quick release feature allows steam to be safely expelled without losing heat. This method should not be confused with the cold water release method which not only drops the pressure but lowers the heat, but immediately stops the cooking process. The quick release method allows cooks to interrupt the cooking process to add other ingredients, or check for doneness, without significantly lowering the temperature of the cooker. Cooking can be resumed very quickly again when the lid is closed and the heat turned back up.

Kuhn RikonIn this Kuhn Rikon model, the pressure valve must be pushed down to release pressure.  It is recommended to use a wooden spoon to keep your hand well away from venting steam.

in contrast, this WMF model uses a slider located on the large, ergonomically designed handle to release pressure in varying amounts that can be controlled by the user.

 

Improved Pressure Valves

The new, modern pressure cookers are 100% safe, and these added safety measures make pressure cooking almost foolproof. No more noisy, rattling, hissing, spitting, jiggling pressure regulators! No more dangerous, unpredictable over-pressure plug that can explode and spray the contents all over your kitchen!

New modern pressure cookers are a closed system, and unlike the weighted, jiggle top models, very little moisture escapes. The modern pressure valves are spring loaded and may be in the form of a rising valve stem or a movable dial.

The new, second generation pressure cookers use a series of safety mechanisms design to release pressure in the event of an over-pressure. If there is a buildup of pressure the excess steam is safely vented through a series of secondary valve systems

Fig1 - The first sign of too much pressure is an audible hissing from the valve stem and the appearance of venting steam.

Fig2 - Over-pressuring releases excess steam from escape holes at the base of the valve stem.

Fig3 - Should excess pressure continue, of the valve become clogged then steam is vented through safety holes in the rim of the lid.

Fig4 - Finally high pressure will force the gasket out between the flanges under the rim of the lid.

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Copy of safety-gasket_1.gifIn the worse case scenario the gasket will be pushed out from an open slot in the rim of the lid allowing built-up steam to escape safely.

Heavy 3 Ply Base Minimizes Burning

 PressureCooker_1.jpg

core.jpgThe heavy, encapsulated, three ply base allows modern pressure cookers to heat evenly without developing hotspots. This feature allows cooks to use a much lower heat source to maintain even pressure without constantly fiddling with the stove. The 3 ply base helps to avoid burning food, or scorching foods that are in direct content with the bottom of the pot. This added feature also adds considerable weight, which may be a problem for some people who have physical disabilities and have difficulty lifting or carrying heavy items.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel with a label of 18/10 (chromium steel/nickel steel) is best, and it can be used on all types of stoves. This includes induction hobs, and in an emergency, disaster or power outage you can use stainless steel cookers on any heat source from wood or coal fires, camp stoves and even outdoor BBQ grills. The base of stainless steel cookers can be washed in the dishwasher. Stainless steel does not react to foods, it will not pit or get those dark, ugly discolorations so common in aluminum. You can also use any kind of cooking utensils without worrying about scratching the surface. Use any accessory in stainless steel cookers. Expand the usefulness of your cooker cook many more recipes than you ever thought possible.

Check The Warranty

The many safety systems and added features found in second-generation features make them a good choice for any cook. Experienced pressure cooker users will enjoy the added benefits, and novices will find them much easier to use. A quality pressure cooker should last 25 years. Look for at least a ten year warranty to protect your investment. read carefully, some manufacturers place limits or restrictions on what they cover.