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Pressure Cooker Heaven

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I gave myself a Fagor Splendid 10 qt pressure cooker for Christmas. It took me a while to decide, but I am sure I will have no regrets. Even though there is only me and HubbyDearest in the nest, I still cook in batches, so the larger size suits me very well. I already have Prestos in 4, 6 & 8 qt sizes, and they serve me nicely most of the time. However, there are occasions when I need one larger, or have the need to employ 2 large ones at the same time. Presto doesn't make a stainless steel that large, so I went with the Fagor.

I used it on the 23rd of Dec. to cook an uncooked, but smoked ham shank, and it turned out just wonderful. Tender and juicy, in just 35 minutes after pressurizing, then another 20 minutes for natural pressure release. Delicious!! On Christmas Eve day I used the wonderful bone to make bean soup. Counting the prep time, but not the pre-soak for the beans, the soup was done to perfection in under an hour. :lips:

Fagor makes a very nice line of pressure cookers, and this one is no exception. It is easy to use, and almost idiot-proof, since all pressure cookers on the market today are required to have a number of safety features. (There are ways to over-ride the safety features, but I cannot imagine anyone being foolish enough to do that).

A very nice DVD was included with my PC. I have one comment about that, though. The demonstrators said to begin cooking time when the yellow pin pops up. This is not correct. If you follow this direction, your food will be undercooked, and you will not be happy with the results. The yellow pin only indicates that there is some pressure in the pot, and another safety lock is now engaged. You now will not be able to open the pressure cooker until all pressure is gone and the pin returns to its resting position. However, full pressure is not reached until you can see a steady of stream emitting from the pressure valve. This is when timing begins, and it is also the time to reduce the heat to the lowest setting needed to maintain stable pressure, with just a puff or whisper of steam emitting every 10 or so seconds during the cooking time. On my electric range, this is close to very low heat. I have similar results with the Prestos, however they are not 'new generation' cookers, so instead of a spring-loaded pressure regulator, they use the old-fashioned weighted jigglers.

Anyone who has been avoiding pressure cookers because of a bad past experience can put their fears to rest. Newly manufactured pressure cookers must meet certain standards for safety, including safeguards to prevent accidental openings and/or explosions. One of the safety features is a "window" in the side of the pot rim that will allow the gasket to blow out to release overpressure, instead of the lid blowing off. Another is an over-pressure plug which serves the same purpose. Additionally, they all are equipped with pressure sensitive locks, which prevent the lid from being removed until the pressure is at zero. It is a mistake to label new cookers as "dangerous, or unsafe". Although their fears may be well-founded, based on past experiences with obsolete models, the new appliances are totally safe.
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post #2 of 12
As long as this thread isn't too old, I wonder if anyone has strong opinions about the best pressure cooker units currently on the market, preferably at sane prices? I am particularly interested in large units, say 10qt.

The original poster mentions Fagor, which seems to come in Splendid and Duo, the latter having two pressure levels. Then Presto, which the OP could not find in a large size.

Any others? Opinions? Good/bad? Personally, I don't care much whether they come with canning racks and stuff, as I have these. It's the pressure unit itself I'm interested in.
post #3 of 12
I don't have any real comparison info. Just that I have an Innova that was moderately priced and has lasted well with no sign of wear on the gasket yet. This is a rocker weight model rather than the spring loaded type.

The Kuhn Rikon models I've seen have been gorgeous and priced like gold. And are supposed to be good performers as well.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
[quote=ChrisLehrer;256480]As long as this thread isn't too old, I wonder if anyone has strong opinions about the best pressure cooker units currently on the market, preferably at sane prices? I am particularly interested in large units, say 10qt.

Hi Chris. When I recently decided to get a 10 qt. pressure cooker, I purchased the Fagor Splendid because that was the only stainless steel cooker in my price range. Other than the size, there are other serious considerations. It should have a thick, tri-ply base. That would be a conductive metal encased in stainless. You will want it to reach 15psi, which is the standard for nearly all pressure cooking recipes. There are a few delicate foods, such as fish, and some steamed cakes, but you might only see such a recipe maybe one in a hundred. (fish cooks so quickly, I would not bother putting it into the PC).

The original poster mentions Fagor, which seems to come in Splendid and Duo, the latter having two pressure levels. Then Presto, which the OP could not find in a large size.

Fagor produces a number of nice model cookers. Both the Splendid and the Duo are available in the 10qt size. Be aware, however, that while the Duo model does offer 2 pressure settings, it is also coated inside with a non-stick finish. I could have had the Duo on a special purchase program for considerably less than what I paid for the Splendid, but I did not want the non-stick. Presto produces a variety of sizes, however their stainless models are available only in 8qt and smaller. Everything else is aluminum. There may be other brands of stainless cookers this price range, however it is not only the cooker that needs to be considered. Parts do wear out and have to be replaced, especially the gasket. You need to be sure these are easily available when needed. In the lower and mid price ranges, Presto and Fagor outshine the rest. Fagor also makes a model called the "Elite", which appears to be very nice, and might also have two pressure settings. I'm not sure if it is available in the 10 qt model.

Regarding size, I want to mention that while the size of the cooker is given in quarts, that is the liquid capacity of the cooker when filled to the brim, not the amount of food that can actually be cooked in the appliance. With pressure cooking, it is important to leave ample space for the steam to build. Therefore, a 10 qt PC fir instance, is never filled more than 3/4, and for foods that foam, never more than half full.

Presto employs the old-fashioned "jiggler" type pressure regulator like our mothers and grandmothers used. I grew up with this type cooker, and I find the gentle rocking and puffing of the regulator comforting. The Fagor is a "new generation" cooker, with a spring-loaded pressure regulator. It is much quieter, and most people think it's easier to use. If you are new to pressure cooking, this type cooker will probably be the best choice for you, although either type is easy to learn and use.

Any others? Opinions? Good/bad? Personally, I don't care much whether they come with canning racks and stuff, as I have these. It's the pressure unit itself I'm interested in.

On the high end of the price range you will find the Kuhn Rikon. These are priced from around $200 and higher, depending on the size. They are stainless steel with the heavy base, and most of the reviews I have seen for them are positive. By the time you pay for a 10-qt however, you could have purchased all four of my pressure cookers with money left over for a nice dinner out for you and a companion. The K-R is the cooker that is often seen in Kitchen Stadium on Iron Chef. By all accounts, they perform beautifully and certainly are lovely to look at. If I had one, I would keep on the stove top as a status symbol.

Chris, if you are unfamiliar with pressure cooking, there is a website dedicated entirely to pressure cooking. There are forums where you can post all your questions and get them answered by more experienced people than I. Also, "Miss Vickie's Big Book of Pressure Cooker Recipes" is a wonderful resource, not only for recipes, but also for all sorts of PC advice.

this is the website---> www.missvickie.com
check it out

I hope this has been helpful. If you have more questions, I'll be happy to try to answer them. Grace.
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post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
I have no personal experience with the Kuhn Rikon pressure cookers, except to know that they are costly. For a lifetime investment, I'm sure they are worth every penny, and from all I have heard about them, their performance is admirable. Even so IMHO, there is a price point beyond which you are only paying for the name or prestige of the thing, since they all perform the same basic function, and all must meet certain safety standards. I don't have anyone in my circle of friends that would be impressed by a Kuhn Rikon. Even if there were, that is not a good enough reason for me to spend the extra money on it. But, as I said in my response to Chris, if I did have one, I would keep it on the stovetop as a status symbol. :look:
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post #6 of 12
I dug up the product descriptions and manuals for the Fagor lines. So far as I can tell, the sole difference between the Duo and the Splendid is that the Duo has two pressure settings. If it's nonstick, there is no indication of it: the manual says you can dishwash the pot bottom, for example. What confuses me is that the Elite and the Splendid appear to be identical -- there don't seem to be any differences whatsoever.

As to Kuhn Rikon, I am boggled. Why are these things so expensive, when there doesn't seem to be any difference between them and other good products? Unless you received it as a gift, why would you pay this kind of money for a product you can get for 1/3 the price?
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
I learn something new every day---usually it turns out to be how little I know! Today I spent the afternoon with a good friend. During our visit, she showed me her new Fagor Duo pressure cooker. I was very surprised to see that it did not have the teflon-type non-stick finish which I thought all Duo models have. I know that some of the Fagor Duo models DO have that non-stick finish. That is the reason I did not purchase the Duo in the first place. The catalog I would have ordered from described it WITH the non-stick interior. I went for the Splendid model instead. So far it has performed well, and I am very pleased with it.

The Kuhn Rikon claims to be superior to other pressure cookers. However I think their desirability is, at least in part, the result of good marketing. Some people claim that the KR is a heavier (therefore supposedly better quality) appliance than the economy priced couterparts. But the extreme cost difference puts it out of range for the average home cook. Presto and Fagor products are good quality without the hefty price tag. Another consideration is the availabilty of replacemets parts. Presto parts are available from a variety of source, including some hardware stores (Ace in particular), and online. Fagor can also be found fairly easily, and inexpensively. But the KR line is very proud of their gaskets. Replace it twice, and you could have a new Presto or Fagor for just a few more dollars. No matter how good the cooker claims to be, the gasket still should be replaced every 12 to 18 months.
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post #8 of 12

Pressure cookers

I love my pressure cookers and use them often. Started using them back when I got married in 1970 and have never been without at least one of them, I remember them being used back when I was a child but they didn't have the safety features that modern ones do. I have stove top and the newer digital types. I have one Innova (not my favorite) a few Fagors and 2 of the digitals, the smallest I have that I actually use is a 4 quart and the largest is the 4 eight quart models I find I use the 8 quart models more than the others....one the afore mentioned Innova, one Fagor and two electric digitals. While I do make meals in them I find I love the stock that comes out of them. Beans are also something where their function shines. Kuhn Rikon PC's are expensive but I know a few who do have them and swear there is a difference in the quality between them and others, the main one that comes to mind is that you don't have to use as much liquid as you do in other brands, something to do with the seal on theirs being better. I have to confess I do not change my gaskets every year and my PC's are working just fine so far, the oldest of them right now (got rid of the ones I bought before 1990) is the Innova that is right at about 16-17 years old right now, the seal on it seems to be rubber but it has no cracks or drying out so I feel safe using it. The Fagors gaskets are silicone and when I bought the first one of them back in about 1995 I also bought a spare gasket for it that is still sitting in the package. I think the digitals are easier to use, you just set them for the time you want and they do all the work, however I don't really like non stick and that is the only way they come right now as far as I know. Around holiday time these cookers really get a workout, I buy turkey parts and make tons of stock for gravy and dressing and now that half the neighbors know they always borrow a pot to do it too. The manuals for the cookers say you can make stock in as little as 15 minutes but I usually let it go for at least and hour and when you open that cooker you are in for a real treat, after you chill the broth it is so gelatinous you can cut it with a knife and the taste is better than when I used to make it for up to 12 hours in a stock pot. I bought one for my youngest son and his wife when they married 5 years ago and it sat in their cabinet since then, she finally tried it last week for some dried beans and I haven't heard about anything else since from her, she is raving about how great they came out in so little time and what great flavor they had. If anyone is wanting to get into PC cooking I reccomend getting a simple Fagor stainless steel, the price won't kill you and they are good cookers, stay away from aluminum cookers if you want to cook with tomatoes or anything else acidic.:lips:
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hi mattie405. It's nice to meet another pressure cooker enthusiast. I think pressure cooking is one of those techniques that a person is either into it totally, or not at all. I use mine so frequently that one is always on the stove. Either it was just used, or waiting to be put into service again. I wonder if we could convince the webmaster to create a forum just for pressure cooker discussions?
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post #10 of 12
Suggest it to Nicko if you'd like but I honestly don't think there is sufficient traffic to support it. Cooking Questions gets the topic occasionally and recipes is right there for more.

However, one productive thing you can do without even needing permission is go tagging. The forum supports tags for various threads. Tags should be topical. Sadly, you only get two tags per thread but if you were to go add pressure cooker tags to past, present and future topics, that would help you and future pressure cooker cooks.

The FAQ says:

I've added the "pressure cooker" tag to this thread. Near the bottom of a thread page, there is a Tags field. And an "Edit Tags" link. Click Edit Tags and start entering tags.

Here is a google search for the pressure cooker term at these forums. This page would be a good place to start a tagging extravaganza.

Pressure Cooker Google Search

There are also social groups here where people of like location or interest form a group to discuss that specialty topic they like. A pressure cooker group could be test run to see if there is sufficient interest for a forum. You get to Social Groups from your user profile. Get to your Profile by clicking "User CP" in the menu bar at the top of any forum page. Social Groups are found in the Networking section on the left of the page. Similarly, there is Group Memberships section in the Your Profile part of the left Navigation column.

Here's where you can see the existing groups and create/join/read as you will. ChefTalk Social Groups

Phil
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks, phatch! The social group has been created under "uncategorized". So far the membership is 1-- me :look:. Is it possible to tag the social group? If so, how would that be done?
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post #12 of 12
I don't know if it can be done. The groups are a fairly low traffic part of the site. You could add a link in your signature though and when someone searches on Pressure Cooker or hits the tag, your posts will turn up in some of those and they'll hopefully see the group link.

Again, you set up an automatic signature in Your Profile.
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