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Are Pressure Cookers Safe?

The name ‘Pressure Cooker’ first appeared in 1915 but the first pressure cooker for use in the home made its debut in America at the World’s Fair in New York, in 1939.

Many people can remember the delicious stews and pot roasts that their Mother or Grandmother used to make.  It is quite likely that she used a pressure cooker to cook them.  It might have tasted as if she spent all day in the kitchen – but a pressure cooker can cook a beef stew in as little as 15 minutes!

Childhood memories are also unfortunately what have put many people off using a pressure cooker.  Do you remember that the only way to release the pressure, thereby allowing the lid to come off, was to put it into the sink and run cold water over it?

Carrying a heavy, hot steaming pan across the kitchen was bad enough, but all that hissing and steam escaping from that jiggly thing on the lid…scary!  It wasn’t very practical either as it could take as long as 20 minutes under the cold water to release the pressure to lift the lid.

Are They Really Safe Now?

The pressure cooker of today is much safer than its hissing ancestor.  Most models have at least three valves for extra safety.  These valves automatically release pressure if it should start to build too high.

Most pressure cookers now won’t let you take the lid off until the pressure has been completely released.  There are two main ways of doing this:

Natural Release.

In this method, you simply remove the pressure cooker from the heat and leave it.  As the temperature of the pot goes down, the pressure slowly releases.  This is the usual method for soups and stews.  Tough cuts of meat become even more tender during this extra pressure release time.

Quick Release.

Some pressure cookers have a built-in automatic pressure release – but not all do, so check before you buy. 

Further Reading

Read our review for the best pressure cooker/canner...


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