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Pressure Cookers

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I am in the market for a HIGH quality pressure cooker. It should have the requiste "bells & whistles".

It should have a minimum capacity of 7-quarts and a maximum capacity of 12-quarts.

While money is NOT an obstacle, I do want value for my dollar.

Do you folks have any recommendations?

Thaks in advance.
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post #2 of 16
I don't think I've ever seen one of that size. Sounds like you need a more commercial strength model than a home model.

Phil
post #3 of 16
At the present time I own three stainless steel Presto pressure cookers..4, 5, & 8 qt capacity.

If you are not familiar with pressure cookers, you need to know this important information: The stated capacity of the cooker is to the brim of the pot. However, because of the need to generate steam in order to cook under pressure, and to prevent steam-born foods from interfering with the pressure regulator and safety features, food should never exceed the 3/4 full level, and in some cases, not more than 1/2 full. Foods that foam, such as beans, rice, chicken, to name a few, are in the latter catagory. And some are not recommeded at all for pressure cooking, (although there is a way around that).

Therefore, if a pressure cooker is rated with an 8qt capacity, the most you can ever cook under pressure would be 6 quarts.

As for types, as I said, I have Presto cookers. This is because I am of a practical mind, and want the most for my money while still getting quality. However, there are now on the market, pressure cookers called "new generation" cookers. Instead of the traditional 'jiggler' type weighted pressure regulator, the pressure in these is controlled by a spring-loaded pressure regulator. They are regarded as 'easier to use'. All pressure cookers on the market today are equipped with multiple safety features, so even the 'budget' ones pose no danger, if used correctly. 8qt is the largest stainless cooker produced by Presto, although they do produce larger aluminum pressure appliance for home canning. You may find larger stainless PC's from Fagor or Kuhn-Rikon, although you may be hard-pressed to find any stainless cookers larger than 10qt. Fagor, a Spanish company, produces fine cookers in the middle price range, and with many fine accessories. On the high end, there is the Kuhn-Rikon pressure cooker. This is the brand you see most often in use on the Iron Chef America show.

Whichever one you choose, be sure to do your homework regarding availablilty of parts and warrantee. Also ask about the maximum psi (pounds per square inch). Most pressure cooker recipe books are written for cookers with 15 psi, so with cookers with lower maximums, it becomes necessary to adjust cooking times. Some cookers do have adjustable pressure from 10 t0 15 psi. When you are researching, do not accept the sales person's say-so on any of these questions. Often they don't know, but instead of admitting it, they just say what they think you want to hear. With internet and toll-free numbers, you can go directly to the source for your information. I hope this has been of some help?

If you need a really good referrence resource and recipe book, check out Miss Vickie's Big Book of Pressure Cooker Recipes, by Vickie Smith. She also has a website where you can get many of your questions answered. :lips:

PS DO NOT purchase a pressure cooker with the intention of using it also for home canning. Canning is a whole other science, requiring specific equipment, and accurate timing. Unfortunately, some retailers continue to market pressure cookers as dual function appliances, advertising that they can also be used for canning.

update: I looked at the Kuhn-Rikon website. They do offer a "12 qt (actual capacity for pressure cooking=9 qt max) stainless family stockpot" for $450. I have no doubt that it's worth every penny. Here is my opinion: This would be a life-time investment (providing the gaskets will always be available). However, unless you know that you will be using this size cooker at least once a week, you might consider purchasing two 8 qt cookers instead. Then, for large batch cooking, use them both.

Expect to see that some of these pressure cookers have been outsourced to China, or some other country. Even so, they still must meet the safety standards set by the USDA.
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post #4 of 16
Nothing to add to amazingrace's post. Just wanted to say it was very informative and well written.

Thanks,
BDL
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http://www.cookfoodgood.com
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post #5 of 16
Nice post ...

Question: When cooking beans in a sauce pan or stock pot, there is often a foam or scum that has to be skimmed. How do you deal with that in a pressure cooker? How does the crud that's usually skimmed (and may not be) effect the taste/texture of the final product?
post #6 of 16
Typically, beans need to be soaked, then drained and covered again with fresh water. Instead of soaking overnight, I use the 'speed soak' method, which is to bring the beans to boiling, then time for 2 minutes. Cut the heat, cover and let stand for an hour or two. This step can be done right in the pressure cooker.

Once the soaking time is done, drain the beans and cover again with fresh water...usually the ratio is 2cups water to each cup of beans. Add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil to the surface of the water. This helps to prevent foaming. And remember, the total contents of the cooker should not fill the pot more than half.

Re: the need to skim the surface. Depending on the type of bean, you may have this problem, or you may not. [Edit: often this is the result of the beans being cooked too vigorously, causing the skins to slip off some of the beans and float to the top. Pressure cooking is a hotter method of cooking, but at the same time it is also gentler, so this is not as likely to happen.] If there is scum after cooking, once the pressure has returned to zero, and the lid has been lifted, simply skim it off the same as if the beans had been cooked by the regular stovetop method.

Re: the affect of scum or foam. This is more of an esthetic issue, IMO, rather than affecting either taste or texture of the cooked beans. I usually just stir it in.

Never add salt or acidic products to dried beans before cooking.
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post #7 of 16

High End Pressure Cooker

Kuhn Rikon makes the largest cooker at 12 quarts but you pay dearly for that. Fagor makes a 10 quart cooker in both the Futuro (sleek, European styling) and the Duo that work very well. Most of the other higher end brands, Magefesa, WMF, Fissler, offer 8 quart cookers. What size you want will really depend upon what you want to do and why.
I don't use my 10 quart Fagor much because when it's filled with food, it's really heavy. I only use it for canning and when I want to make more than 4 quarts of something.
I teach pressure cooking and I'm happy to answer any questions about cookers and the process.
Jill
post #8 of 16
The OP was not asking specifically about home pressure canners. However, the subject was raised in discussion, and other viewers may be interested in exploring this field. So, here is a useful website for home canning information. Very informative section of FAQ's

National Center for Home Food Preservation | UGA Publications
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post #9 of 16
I like to make stock in a pressure cooker - takes just 30 minutes at 15lbs - and used an ancient Presto 4-qt for years. Got impatient, and found a heavy aluminum 10-qt model at a restaurant supply store. It was about
$60, and has a top secured by screw-down clamps. (What we called "dogs" in the Navy.) There's no name on it, just the number "89".

Or maybe it's "68".

Works fine, I can make about eight quarts of stock for freezing.

Mike
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post #10 of 16
Our canner is very old, at least 30 years. It has a capacity of 6 Qts. The raised platform at the bottom of the canner is removable and has depressions in it for placing qt. jars.

The lid twists on with about a 2"-3" twist, and has a gasket.

The top of the lid has a rubber safety valve, a middle "steam spewer" I call it, and a little poppet valve that when it "pops up" means start timing.

We've used this every year, multiple times a year for 30 some years. Once in a while the gasket leaks a bit, but the poppet stays up, and according to the instruction book, as long as the poppet is up, the pressure is A-OK.

We've never had a problem with it, although I would like to get a new one, they're not as heavy duty as this one obviously is.

I'm trying to find the mfg.s booklet to order some new gaskets. They actually sold us some at the price that was quoted 30 years ago as a coupon in the back page of the instruction manual, when we ordered some about 10 years ago! Free shipping too.

So I am confused between a "pressure cooker" and a "pressure canner". I thought they were both the same thing. All the ads I've seen they pretty much look the same.

Unless you're talking about these little pots that have clamped lids that supposedly cook your food faster. But they're not made for putting jars in with sealing lids and rings. They're just for putting food in and cooking it under some additional pressure created by the special lid. No special gadgets on the lid as I recall. They're really not that big of a pot either.

Am I missing something?

tx,
doc
post #11 of 16
Here are two websites where you can get your questions answered by experts in the pressure cooker/pressure canner field.

National Center for Home Food Preservation | USDA Publications


Pressure Cooker Recipes Forum - Message Board - Yuku

Pressure cookers cook. Pressure canners can. It is possible to cook in a canner, but the reverse is not recommended.

One of the most significant difference between pressure cookers and pressure canners is the size.

Pressure canners must meet certain USDA standards , one of which is the number of quart jars that can be processed. Unfortunately, some retailers continue to advertise pressure cookers as "canners" when technically they are no longer recommended for food preservation because of the smaller size.
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post #12 of 16
After using EVOO to oil the gasket, I looked real closely at the label on the handles. Its a Presto Cooker Canner.

Must work ok, as we've never gotten sick. We have had a couple of busted bottles when we opened the canner after depressurizing (surmise that they touched each other during the sterilization process). And we've had some trouble with sealed lids, due usually to small almost imperceptible "dits" on the sealing jar surface.

The worst experience was when the wife wanted me to save some mushroom gravy that I had made an awful lot of from the leftover turkey drippings.

When opened a month or two later, it smelled like Toe Fat.

Yuck!Q@

doc
post #13 of 16
Doc, before you can anything again, get the most current edition of the Ball Blue Book for canning. It has the most recent USDA timing charts and recipes for all sorts of foods. Because of botulism, I am leary of canning anything with mushrooms. I freeze those kinds of foods instead. You are very fortunate it smelled bad.

You should always carefully inspect your jars before canning in them. Look for cracks, and also run a finger gently around the rim to check for any chips. Chipped jars should not be used for canning...ever. Also, the rings can be used over and over, but the lids are one time use only.

When you talk to Presto customer service, ask if this model is still recommended for pressure canning. They will be able to tell you if it is, and if it's not, they can also tell you why. Happy canning.
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post #14 of 16
After 32+ years of canning with this canner, I'm not too concerned if Presto says its not recommended for use anymore. As a former Reliability and Quality Engineer, I think anything that has been tested so extensively for 32+ years, passes the Quality test.

Of course, your advice is great for beginning canners, I'm glad you posted it. Use my experience to demonstrate that no matter how vigilant you think you're being, there can be "almost imperceptible dits" on the sealing surface.

In 32+ years, we've had seals break maybe 5 or 6 times. That's out of literally hundreds of canning jars. Percentage wise, we're experiencing reliability of implantable pacemakers or greater.

The mushroom episode was a 1-time mistake on my part. I wasn't too keen on doing it in the first place.

As far as canning anything with mushrooms, we use mushrooms in many tomato sauces that we can. After cooking them for several hours and then sterilizing them, I'm not too worried about botulism.

UNLESS:

1. The seal doesn't "POP" when you open a canned productd.
2. The contents look particularly different than you're used to seeing.
3. The contents don't smell the way they did when you canned them.

Anyway, the proof for me is that in 32+ years, we've never ever gotten sick off our canned goods. However, I never ever eat anyone else's canned goods, because I don't know if I can trust their technique.

dpc
post #15 of 16
Unfortunately, we only ever hear the success stories. :look:

Actually, what I should have said is "Presto will tell you if the USDA still recommends this cooker for safe home food preservation." So it is not Presto's opinion that matters, but rather the USDA's.

You apparently try to follow all the established guidelines for safe canning. I still recommend that you get the most current Ball Blue Book for Canning. The USDA continually tests and updates their information, recipes and timing charts. There have been many changes in the past few years. What was acceptable 32 years ago may now be old information. Many of these recommendations and changes are based on new data regarding the acid levels of the foods being processed. For instance, many tomato varieties on the market now are significantly less acid than the heirloom varieties...so much so, that the processing times need to be adjusted accordingly. It's a small investment to ensure continued success. Even experienced home canners, engineers included, need to be aware, and keep up with these changes.
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post #16 of 16
Well, actually, as an avid cook following professional guidelines for food safety, I have some of the latest information available on food safety.

Indeed, the Uof MInnesota agricultural extension service is one of my best sources for the latest info and its free too!

One note of caution, don't always believe what is written. USDA told us Margarine was better for us than butter, but now we know different. I used Olive oil and some butter for the last 45 years because I'm a maverick in some ways, and do what my body senses it wants me to do. Butter and EVOO just tasted better. Now I'm near 60 and have low cholesterol and low blood pressure even though I'm 6'2" tall and way overweight by conventional standards.

Also, FDA is saying that a certain chemical in food packaging is ok for you, but there is a raging conflict as I speak going on right now about that.

Plasticizers, known as pthtalates, are everywhere especially in PVC containers. It is been recognized as ok for contact with food, but this stuff leaches out very easily, and it permeates everything these days. YOu and I are full of it!

Anyway, this was a fun exchange of ideas. Thanks!

doc
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