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Frequently Asked Questions

Whether you’re a novice or an experienced pressure cooker user, questions do crop up. This list of answers to the most frequently asked questions will provide you with the skill and confidence necessary to make your pressure cooking experiences successful and rewarding.

Q. How do I convert conventional recipes for use in a pressure cooker?
Q. Won't flavors intermingle when several foods are cooked at the same time in the pressure cooker?
Q. Can cooking liquids other than water be used in a pressure cooker?
Q. What does it mean when a recipe says to cook "0" minutes?
Q. When is it necessary to quick cool the pressure cooker?
Q. What types of cookware can be used in a pressure cooker?
Q. Are there any adjustments that need to be made when pressure cooking at high altitudes?

Q. How do I know when the regulator has achieved a "slow, gentle, rocking motion"?

Q. How do I convert conventional recipes for use in a pressure cooker?
A.
Experience is the best teacher. A good rule of thumb to follow is to decrease the length of cooking time for a conventional recipe by two-thirds. The amount of liquid used may also have to be adjusted because there is very little evaporation from the pressure cooker. Generally, decrease the amount of liquid so there is only about 1/2 cup more than desired in the finished product. Remember, however, there must always be water or some other liquid in the pressure cooker to form the necessary steam.

Q. Won't flavors intermingle when several foods are cooked at the same time in the pressure cooker?
A.
Not if you use the cooking rack properly. Flavors of foods are blended when they are cooked in the same liquid. When using a pressure cooker, however, only a small amount of cooking liquid is required so the cooking rack can be used to hold some or all of the foods out of the liquid. This permits the cooking of several different foods at the same time without the intermingling of flavors. Of course, for foods where you do want flavors to blend, don't use the cooking rack.

Q. Can cooking liquids other than water be used in a pressure cooker?
A.
Yes. You're only limited by your imagination! Wine, beer, bouillion, fruit juices and, of course, water are all excellent cooking liquids for use in the pressure cooker. Just remember that you always need some cooking liquid in order to produce the steam necessary for the pressure cooker to work.

Q. What does it mean when a recipe says to cook "0" minutes?
A.
This is a technique used with delicate foods to prevent overcooking. It indicates that food should be "cooked" only until the pressure regulator begins to rock and then the pressure cooker should be cooled according to recipe instructions. (With Presto Pride® and Presto® Professional units, you should release pressure immediately after pressure cooker reaches cooking pressure.)

Q. When is it necessary to quick cool the pressure cooker?
A.
Quick cooling of the pressure cooker is usually used for delicate foods such as custards and fresh vegetables. To quick cool a pressure cooker, simply place the cooker under cold running water or place in a pan or sink full of cold water. For other foods, like roasts and stews, it is usually recommended that you let the pressure cooker cool of its own accord by setting it aside until the pressure drops.

Q. What types of cookware can be used in a pressure cooker?
A.
Glass, metal and earthenware molds and other small, heat proof items such glass custard cups can be used in the pressure cooker. These types of containers are especially helpful in preparing beautiful desserts and side dishes. Use individual or small molds, glass custard cups, 4-6 ounce metal or tin gelatin molds or earthenware souffle dishes. Fill molds 2/3 full to allow for expansion of food, and fit them loosely into the pressure cooker on the cooking rack.

Q. How do I know when the regulator has achieved a "slow, gentle, rocking motion"?
A. Water boils at 212 degrees and creates steam. In a pressure cooker, this steam is safely locked inside, allowing the temperature to increase higher than the boiling point and resulting in faster than normal cooking. On a basic weighted valve pressure cooker, when the pressure regulator begins to rock, 15 pounds pressure (250 degrees) is reached inside the pot. On ALL kinds of pressure cookers, it’s important to reduce the heat on the stovetop once pressure is reached. If the heat isn’t reduced, too much liquid will be released while the cooker is trying to maintain 15 pounds pressure. On a weighted valve pressure cooker, the regulator should be rocking gently and slowly. Just enough so you can hear that it is doing its job.

Regulator Motion

Watch the animation to the right to get a feel for what a slow, gentle rock should look and sound like. You can easily go about your other cooking tasks while listening to the progress of your pressure-cooked meal. In the unlikely event, it becomes quiet, you will know -- before it is too late -- that it needs your attention. It may be an indication that the heat is too low and the pressure has reduced or it could mean that the pressure cooker did not have enough liquid and it will soon burn on the bottom. It is best to remove the pressure cooker from the heat and cool it at once to troubleshoot.

Q. Are there any adjustments that need to be made when pressure cooking at high altitudes?
A.
When pressure cooking at altitudes over 2000 feet, the cooking time should be increased. Increase cooking times 5% for every 1000 feet above 2000 feet. Increase cooking times as follows:

3000 ft: 5% 4000 ft: 10% 5000 ft: 15%
6000 ft: 20% 7000 ft: 25% 8000 ft: 30%

introduction | how to buy | how to use | whole meal magic
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS | recipe index

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