How to Release Pressure

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There are three methods for releasing the pressure in your cooker. Recipes will indicate which release method to use at the end of the cooking process.

Cold Water Release Method


Fastest method, used to immediately stop the cooking process by lowering the heat AND the temperature.

If an immediate release of pressure AND temperature is desired, the pot is carried to the sink and cold water run over the lid (but not the valve). Always position the cooker in the sink so that it is tilted at a slight angle. Let the cold stream of water run over top of the lid, but not directly over the vent pipe or valve, letting it rundown the side of the cooker to cool it quickly. If your faucet is too short to allow water to run over the top of the cooker use the sprayer attachment if available, otherwise partially filled with sink with cold water before setting the cooker in it.

This method is mainly used for food with very short cooking times, or where it is essential to stop the cooking process as fast as possible. Use this method for serving fresh, tender-crisp vegetables, or delicate seafoods. Owners of electric pressure cookers do not have the cold water option, and that limits some of the foods and recipes they can cook.

Owners of the old style, first generation cookers must use this method to add ingredients or check for doneness, but it will take longer for the cooled pot to come back to pressure. This may result in certain foods being over cooked.

  1. When using the cold water release method there are a couple of things to keep in mind. The first is safety - carrying any large pot full hot food can be dangerous because it is heavy and hot. All pressure cookers should have two handles for easy lifting and carrying, but it yours doesn't, use an oven mitt for extra support when transporting the pressure cooker to the sink. Always look to see that you have a clear path with nothing on the floor that might trip you, and make sure no children or pets are underfoot. People of small stature, or those with physical limitations, may find it easier to slide the pressure cooker along the countertop from the stove to the sink.
  2. NEVER run water directly over the pressure release vent or valve when using the cold water release method. Direct the water to the outer edge of the lid so that it runs down the side of the pot. A variation on this method is to fill the sink with several inches of cold water and then sit the pressure cooker in the cold water bath.

When the pressure cooker is removed from heat the air molecules inside the pot begin to cool and contract, and if the vent opening is blocked by the stream of water, then no air molecules can get inside to replace the volume. The air inside the cooker rapidly contracts as it cools so there is less air pressure inside the pot than outside. This creates a very powerful vacuum that can actually cause the lid (or the weakest area of the metal) to collapse as the vacuum sucks it down inside the pot. I know from experience that this can happen. I inadvertently allowed water to run straight over the pressure regulator on a stainless steel cooker, and then I heard a loud "POP". When I looked at the cooker the lid was actually concave, with a dished in depression of about 1 inch in its center.

Quick or Touch Release Method

Quick, but not as fast as the cold water release,pressure cookers with this option can vent the pressure without lowering the heat of the food.

People often confuse the quick release with the cold water release, but they are actually two distinctly different methods. there is a special release valve on some new pressure cookers that allows for the rapid release of pressure by just turning a knob or pushing a button. This is a great feature and this method is suggested if you wish to interrupt the cooking process to add some further ingredients or check food for doneness. By releasing the steam this way you can quickly open the pressure cooker without cooling off the pot and stopping the cooking process. When you're finished, the pressure cooker can be returned to pressure very quickly.


Do not use the quick release method for foods that increase in volume, froth or foam, or those that are mostly liquids, like soup or broth because the contents could foam, or boil up and vent through the release valve.

Owners of jiggle top models are cautioned never to tilt, lift or tip the pressure regulator weight in an attempt to lower the pressure more quickly. If the weight accidentally slips or comes off the vent pipe the contents of the cooker can be vented through the opening in the vent pipe.

Natural Release Method


This is the slowest method to gradually drop the pressure and the temperature to finish the cooking process.

A third method of releasing the pressure is to remove the pressure cooker from the heat source and to allow the pressure to subside naturally. If you are cooking beans, potatoes, or other foods which have a skin that you wish to remain intact, this is the preferred method. Use the this release method for foods that increase in volume, froth or foam, or those that are mostly liquids, like soup or broth. Most meats and other long cooking recipes are finished this way to complete the cooking process.

If you own an electric model, keep in mind that the heating element will retain heat and that will prolong the cool down period which may result in foods that are overcooked.

There is no hard and fast rule to determine how long the cooling process will take. Factors such as the construction of the base and the type of metal used, the volume and type of foods being cooked, will affect the amount of time it takes for the pressure to drop. An appropriate length of time would be 15 minutes, but be patient if it takes a bit longer and wait for the pressure to drop. However, if you are in a hurry and can't wait any longer than that, then use the cold water release method to completely drop the remaining pressure.


The food inside the cooker continues to cook throughout this slow cool down process. This method is commonly used for finishing large cuts of meat; foods that foam, froth or expand during cooking; and foods that are mostly liquid, such as stock or broth. The natural release method should not be used for delicate vegetables or fish, or any food or recipe with very short cooking times.







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