HOW TO BUY | how
to use | whole
frequently asked questions | recipe
How to Buy a Pressure Cooker...
If you don't own a pressure cooker or if you are considering upgrading
to a newer model, you'll be faced with a variety of choices when you go shopping.
To help with your decision making, we've prepared this buyer's guide to show
you what to look for and to help you find the model just right for you.
to Select the Right Model For Your Needs...
Should you buy an aluminum or a stainless steel pressure
Aluminum cookers are lighter in weight and significantly less expensive
than stainless steel models. Aluminum is also a good conductor of heat which
will provide excellent cooking performance. Unlike most aluminum cookware, however,
you won't find pressure cookers with nonstick coatings because those finishes
don't stand up well in a pressure cooking environment.
Stainless steel models provide the same lustrous, long lasting finish common
to most stainless steel cookware. Stainless steel pressure cookers are heavier
and more expensive than aluminum models. To maximize cooking performance, however,
you should select a model with a bimetal base since stainless steel is a poor
conductor of heat. These bases usually consist of a disc of aluminum welded
to the outside bottom of the pan.
- Economy is the main reason to choose an aluminum pressure cooker.
- The long lasting, high lustre finish is the main reason to choose a stainless
What size pressure cooker is right for you?
Most pressure cookers are sold by the size of their total liquid capacity
even though their actual usable capacity is one half to two thirds of their
liquid capacity, depending upon the food being cooked. Pressure cookers with
4-quart, 6-quart, and 8-quart liquid capacities are the most popular sizes.
4-QUART: A good size for singles or couples; or for making one course
for a family, such as potatoes or vegetables. Whole meal recipes for one or
two persons can usually be accommodated in a 4-quart pressure cooker.
6-QUART: The most popular size for many families with two or more persons.
8-QUART: Popular for larger families.
NOTE: Large size pressure cooker/canners (17- and 22-quart models, for example)
are also available and are mostly used for pressure canning meats, vegetables,
and low-acid foods in pint and quart jars. For pressure cooking, they are usually
suitable only if you are cooking for a very large group.
What is the best brand of pressure cooker for your needs?
Over the course of time, many different companies have manufactured
pressure cookers. Because the pressure cooker you purchase today should be expected
to provide many years of service, it is important to select a brand that will
allow you to get the most from your investment. Therefore, these guidelines
should be considered when making your selection...
- Choose a brand from a company that has been in business for a number of
years and has a stable financial track record. To keep your pressure cooker
operating properly and safely for many years, you will have to periodically
replace a few inexpensive parts (like tires and fan belts on your car) and
you need to be confident that the brand you purchase today will be from a
company that will be in business for years to come in order to assure a supply
of the proper parts. Parts are not interchangeable from one brand to another,
so don't select a "brand X" model simply because it is less expensive.
- Buy a brand handled by a reputable retailer. This could be a local branch
of a national chain, a department store, catalog showroom or your local hardware
dealer. For maximum convenience, you may want to select a retailer that also
stocks the replacement parts you will eventually need.
- Select a brand that has been listed or approved by an independent testing
organization. This will ensure that your pressure cooker meets or exceeds
certain quality and performance standards that have been independently verified.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is probably the testing organization familiar
to most Americans.
Which pressure cooker features are right for you?
NOTE: If you have not done so already, it is probably best to review
the How To Select The Right Model For Your Needs section
to determine the type and size of pressure cooker you want before studying these
specific features. If you are not familiar with pressure cooking, you may also
want to check out the How To Use section
which provides a detailed explanation of how a pressure cooker works.
- PRESSURE REGULATOR: Every pressure cooker must have a means of controlling
the cooking pressure and, over the years, many types of pressure regulators
have been designed to perform this function. Normally the pressure regulator
is placed on top of a vent pipe which is a small opening in the cover designed
to allow excess steam to escape during cooking. Always select a pressure cooker
that has a removable pressure regulator. This is important because you will
want to examine the vent pipe before each use to be sure it is not clogged
and clean it if necessary. Some regulators jiggle and allow steam to escape
almost constantly. Others do not jiggle but intermittently release excess
steam in short bursts. Either type works well but the jiggling type provides
a continuous audible signal that the pressure cooker is operating properly
and maintaining the proper cooking pressure. Select a regulator that has a
maximum operating pressure of 15 pounds (p.s.i.) pressure. If the operating
pressure is lower than 15 pounds, you will not realize as much time savings
when cooking in your pressure cooker.
- COVER INTERLOCK: Choose only a pressure cooker that has a cover locking
system. This important device prevents the cover from being removed when there
is pressure inside the cooker. Any cooker with a UL listing will have a cover
lock. Some pressure cookers, including all current Presto® models, have an additional feature that prevents pressure from building inside
the cooker if the cover is not properly closed.
- COOKING RACK: Select a pressure cooker that comes with a cooking
rack or a basket. This will allow you to cook certain foods above the cooking
liquid. This way, several foods can be cooked at the same time because, when
cooked in this purely steam environment, the various flavors and odors of
the foods will not intermingle.
- HANDLES: Pick up any pressure cooker you are considering and handle
it as you would expect to at home. Make sure the handles feel comfortable
and secure. Better models of pressure cookers have ergonomically designed
handles for comfort and ease of handing. A 6-quart or larger pressure cooker
should have handles on both sides of the body to aid in lifting the unit.
Many times one side will have a smaller "assist" or "helper"
handle for this purpose.
- INSTRUCTION/RECIPE BOOK: Examine the instruction book that is provided
with the pressure cooker. It should have both clear, detailed operating instructions
and a good selection of basic pressure cooking recipes.
- INDEPENDENT TEST APPROVAL: Buy only a pressure cooker that has been
tested and bears the seal of an independent testing laboratory or organization.
If you live in the United States, this is most often Underwriters Laboratories
- STAINLESS STEEL: If you plan to purchase a stainless steel pressure
cooker, it's best to select a model with a bimetal clad base. Usually this
is an aluminum disc welded to the exterior bottom of the cooker. This will
greatly improve the heating characteristics and performance of the pressure
cooker by eliminating "hot spots" that are common with regular stainless