Older pressure cooker models, with their hissing sounds and stories about the lid blasting off, have created a fear among cooks especially amateur ones. You might be familiar with such stories from your parents’ or grandparents’ times. Well, the good news is that these stories have not made their way into the reality of the technological world of today. Newer models have multifold safety features to protect the pressure cooker, food, kitchen and the user. However you still need to be a little careful to handle it safely and properly. Keep a few safety tips in mind (mentioned below) and you have nothing to worry about. Electric pressure cookers are so safe that even amateurs can operate it, no expertise is needed.
Here are some tips you need to follow to ensure safe and proper use of your pressure cooker:
Invest in a good quality pressure cooker:
Avoid buying older models of pressure cookers from a flea store. These older models will not have as much safety features and they might be damaged. The damage might even go unnoticed before you bring it home only to regret your decision. The lid might be cracked or the gasket may be loose all of which will cause more trouble than spending a little extra to get a good quality newer model of pressure cooker. These newer models have multiple safety features to prevent any mishap for example the lids come with automatic locks which only open when the pressure inside the cooker has subsided.
Maintain the gasket:
For pressure cooker to work correctly, you need to make sure that the gasket is clean and in good shape. The gasket becomes loose with time. If yours is loose or cracked, you will need to replace it at once. A damaged gasket will not allow pressure build up inside the cooker. This results in the evaporation of all the liquid and burning of food if this faulty gasket goes unnoticed. For best results, buy the replacement gasket from the same manufacturer as the pressure cooker. This will ensure proper sealing.
Check for dried food:
Check carefully to see that there is no dried food stuck to the rim of the pot or inside the pressure weight (of older models). This dried food could break the seal and make the lid come risking your safety and resulting in a big mess. Use a toothpick or a needle to clear the path inside the weight and remove any food residue from it.
Read the instruction manual:
How many times have you dived into the operation of an appliance without reading the instruction manual? Probably every time! Turns out, the instruction manuals are not that useless as you think they are. They are there for your convenience and to guide you how to operate a machine safely and properly. Every pressure cooker is manufactured differently and thus operates differently. Before operating it for the first time, it is always a good idea to read the instruction manual carefully so that you do not damage the cooker or yourself by uneducated handling.
Amount of liquid:
Use adequate amount of liquid. You should know that the cooker functions by creating vapors to build pressure. You should, therefore, add enough liquid to create pressure. If you have added less water and enough steam is not building up, turn it off, open the lid and add more water. However, be careful not to overfill the cooker with liquid. Generally speaking, it is advisable not to fill it more than two-third its capacity. If you fill it with more liquid than this, you might be risking food reaching the vents. For foods that increase in size when cooked like grains, it is advisable not to fill it more than half its capacity.
Don’t use it for frying:
Never use your cooker for frying food. It is manufactured to be used with liquid. If you use more than a little oil inside the cooker, it can cause the gasket and other parts of the cooker to melt.
Release pressure safely:
There are two ways to release pressure:
- Natural Release: Turn off the stove and wait for the pressure to subside
- Quick Release: by running cold water over the closed lid
Make sure to use pot holders to protect yourself from burns, and keep your face and hands away from the vents while using quick release.
Follow these simple tips when using your pressure cooker and you will keep yourself, the cooker and the surroundings from any harm.