With a pressure cooker you will be able to use cuts of beef that are not considered tender. Just last night we had a delicious beef stew for supper.
When you decide on what brand of PC you want to buy...purchase their cookbooks too.
Also a new PC will come with lots of good suggestions, free recipes, and tips on "how to use" from the maker. There are cook books available that are devoted to recipes for the PC. Lots of information and recipes on the web, too.
A speedy, healthy, and thrifty way of cooking meals for a busy family. When my hubby has to do the cooking, he prefers using our pressure cooker.
My pressure cooker is at least twenty years old, so I can't recommend the make. However, I'm delighted that I decided to bring it when we moved from England to Finland, as they don't seem to use them here. I can make real English puddings like jam roly-poly, treacle pudding, and spotted dick; not to mention proper Christmas pudding!
They seem like very handy things. Growing up they were objects of dread because everyone knew of people who had had them blow up on them, but I assume that the newer ones are considerably safer. What size is yours? I'm thinking that a 7 - 8 qt model would be a useful size.
greenhouse_gal wrote:They seem like very handy things. Growing up they were objects of dread because everyone knew of people who had had them blow up on them, but I assume that the newer ones are considerably safer.
That's what people (like my mom) keep telling me, but I had a fear of pressure cookers hammered into me as a child, and I get a nervous twitch just thinking about them. I know they are wonderful (I have seen and eaten the results), but I have a near-phobia about them that I'm not sure I'll ever overcome. (It's why I don't own a pressure canner, either. if I can't safely preserve it by boiling bath or freezing, it doesn't get put up around here.)
I don't use a pressure canner and don't plan to; I prefer foods frozen anyway. But I've been reading about pressure cookers and they seem to be almost fool-proof these days. If I didn't have a bunch of free-range geese and old hens in the freezer I probably wouldn't be thinking about getting one, because I have enough other pots and pans, heaven knows! But it would be nice to be able to serve them up more palatably and pressure cookers apparently also shorten the time on things like stews and soups, which we love. So I'm willing to try one - if I can decide on brand and size!
The stories about "exploding" pressure cookers came out of WWII and just after. During the Victory Garden era many people who were using pressure cookers/canners had no experience with them and didn't follow basic safety procedures.
Also, after WWII many munitions companies re-tooled to make pressure cookers. There were many many brands and a number of them were badly designed and unsafe. That's no longer the case.
Pressure cookers/canners today have "levels" of safety, so there are back-ups for the back-ups, so to speak. That doesn't mean you should just wander off and forget about it, but the lid isn't going to blow off. On today's pc's there's an over-pressure plug that would pop, releasing the pressure if necessary.
When determining size, be aware that with some foods like dried beans you have to allow for expansion, so if you have a 6-quart pressure cooker, you have roughly 4-quarts of useful capacity.
Kuhn-Rikon is the top brand (with a price to match) but Fagor runs a close second and is much more affordable.
Anyone interested in pressure cooking should bookmark this site; if you look to the left on the page, you'll see a link to recommendations:
I learned to use a 4 qt. pressure cooker back in the 60's. I, too had to get over my "fear" of them! Mine was either Mirro, or Presto (?) and without them I would never have had long cooking things (meatloaf) ore roasts without it. I worked and had to have dinner ready in a short time. I cooked veggies in it, too, Green beans are great cooked this way!
I've checked out Miss Vickie's site, too; she has some great ideas and information on there.
I was trying to decide between the Kuhn Rikon and the Fagor, but the Fagor I saw in the store this morning was made in China, and that's somewhat of a turnoff for me considering their track record the last few years. I have heard of people who said that theirs was made in Spain, which would have been much more appealing to me.
I am tending toward a 7+ Kuhn Rikon right now. I usually make enough of whatever for from 4 to 6 people; does that seem large enough?
I did notice on http://www.cooking.com/products/shprodde.asp?SKU=126852 that the Futuro pressure cooker set is listed as being made in Spain, but all the other models appear to have been made in China. (I didn't investigate Fagor's marine and RV pressure cookers, only the standard lines.)
One thing I like about Kuhn-Rikon is that it is a very socially conscious company. There's a cool article about the company and their pressure cookers here:
Carol, what can you tell me about the difference between the two, then? I don't mind spending the extra money if there's a reason for it, and making sure that the product wasn't made in China might be good enough. But is there a difference in how well they're made or how well they work or how easily they operate? And why did you get both, pray tell?
I'm way beyond two pressure cookers, LOL. I also have an All-American and a Presto pressure canner and then when a neighbor moved she gave me an unused Mirro 12-quart canner. So I think I'm pretty well covered in the pressure cooker/canner department.
I got the larger Kuhn Rikon originally but when I found a super deal on a Fagor two-piece set (slightly smaller) I couldn't resist.
Frankly, I think a lot of the price difference between the two is a reflection of place of manufacture and the economies of scale. Fagor is one of the biggest manufacturers of pressure cookers in the world and has factories on multiple continents. The smaller Kuhn Rikon company manufactures in Switzerland and there's no way they're going to meet Fagor's price point.
Both companies meet my criteria for a pressure cooker (in random order):
1. Long-term availability of parts with wide-spread distribution by a company that's likely to stay in business
2. Strength of warranty
3. Stainless body (teflon doesn't hold up and I don't like aluminum)
4. Multiple levels of safety mechanisms
5. Ease of use
6. A full 15 pounds of pressure (T-Fal and some others are not a full 15 psi)
So when I think of a Kuhn-Rikon and a Fagor I think Rolls Royce v.s. Lexus. Both will get you where you want to go, but really the differences are more a matter of style. Kuhn-Rikon is heavier, but it's not critical. In all essentials both are great.
If possible, it's nice to be somewhere where the two brands are on display. The mechanisms are a bit different and you may find one style of handle more comfortable than another.
The same is true of who you buy from. You can buy from the biggest cheapest seller or go for someone like this company, known for their service. (Call them and you'll talk to a real person in Nebraska who can answer any question.)
If I were looking for the very most economical, I'd go for a stainless Presto. The company's been in business forever, gaskets are available nearly everywhere. The mechanism isn't as sophisticated (perfectly safe but with fewer back-ups) and it will be noisier and will use more water it's very good value.
I wouldn't buy a Mirro because the company's gone through several changes of ownership and personally I don't trust that parts will continue to be available over the long-term.
I had checked out Pleasant Hill Grain already. The only advantage I see to them over Amazon for the Kuhn Rikon is that Amazon doesn't seem to have them for immediate shipment and Pleasant Hill Grain does; the price is the same, though.
Whatever do you do with all those pressure cookers? You do have a lot!
Well, I can a lot in the summer and meat and fish other seasons. Though the Mirro just sits there until I can find a nice home for it. I was gifted it by a widow neighbor who was moving. Otherwise I wouldn't have it.
But I come from a canning family and when you're doing big batches of something like tuna, it's nice to have two canners because the processing time is so long. It just speeds things up.
As far as the Kuhn-Rikon and the Fagor are concerned, two pc's are not that many for me. (The Fagor has one pc lid with two different bodies.) I can use one for meals and one for desserts, though of course I don't do that all the time. Or one to cook a batch of beans for the freezer and one for pot roast for dinner. It's efficient, like any big-batch cooking.
I really like having a lower pressure as well as the full 15 psi because I can use it in the winter for steamed puddings, cakes, brown breads and other more delicate foods. I have an old pressure cooker cookbook which has quite a few recipes which call for reduced pressure.
Another factor is just that I'm older and one does tend to accumulate things, not just purchases but gifts.
We freeze rather than can; we have two full-sized freezers and one chest freezer filled with garden produce, deer, lamb, chicken and goose. I'm more interested in the pc's for cooking. We are both retired, but we had never thought about using a pc; in fact I had an old one that was my MIL's, I think, and we got rid of it because we didn't trust it, especially after it almost took explosives to get the top off of it! But I've been reading about using them for soups and stews and less expensive cuts of meat and it sounded like a good thing to try.
I looked at that Elite at HSN and on other sites. An electric pc can be appealing, but anytime you buy an electric digital appliance there are just that many more things to go wrong.
It took me forever to search out the manual online to get more specifics on the Elite, but I did finally find one. There's a 1-year limited warranty. You have to keep the receipt and ship it back to HSN.
It has a non-stick interior, which won't wear well in a pc and it only goes to 12 pounds pressure, which means recipes in standard pc cookbooks will have to be adjusted for time.
HSN does appear to have a good price for anyone who is interested, though there's also shipping.
I ended up getting the seven-quart Kuhn Rikon; in fact it came today. What kind do you have, Arlene? And any idea where I could find out what cooking times to use for older chickens? The Kuhn Rikon cookbook has a Poulet en Cocotte à la Grandmère, or something like that, but although grandmère would doubtless have used a poule (old hen) rather than a poulet (broiler or fryer) I doubt if that's what the Kuhn Rikon people had in mind.
Brand doesn't really matter to me; I have another one here still in the box that was on sale and I bought it for a back-up.
I've been cooking with a pressure cooker all my life so I don't have a cookbook to go by for timing; 15-20 minutes after up to pressure will cook the most non - tender cuts.
Favs . . Stewing beef . .stewed chicken . . but anything you want done in a hurry . . this will speed it up
For vegetable Beef Soup, I would put the canned tomatoes, onion, celery, cabbage, and pearl barley as well as the stew beef and 20 minutes later . . ready for the vegies - after up to pressure, about 3 minutes on the veggies. . . but I don't even bother to pressure cook vegies.
Most pots should come with a recipe book . . when my mother got her first new pressure cooker. . I believe she went through the entire recipe book and had fun making different things. . of course we didn't have microwaves then. It brings to mind porcupine meatballs . . .and I haven't made those in a good long while . . the rice cooks perfectly in the pressure cooker.
The Kuhn Rikon does come with a cookbook; it has that Poulet en Cocotte à la Grandmère recipe. But I would assume that they're using a broiler or a fryer there, and I'd like to know how long to cook it with an older hen. Do you know what the difference in times would be?
I once cooked a roasting hen (no pressure cooker), and that thing never DID get tender - we're talking HOURS of stewing time.
I don't know if my mom is watching this thread, but if she is, I bet she's thinking of that same incident, since they were visiting at the time - we have laughed about it ever since and speculated on just how ancient that bird must have been.
At the time, I was so frustrated I wrote to the poultry company and they sent me a coupon for another hen. The next one cooked up fine ;o)
Low-Pressure (3-5 psi) 50 minutes (preferred for best results)\
Standard-Pressure (15 psi) 40 minutes
4 lb. stewing-chicken, disjointed
2 cups water
2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 T. parsley, minced
1 cup celery, diced
1 medium onion, sliced
3 whole cloves
Wash chicken and place in cooker. Add all other ingredients. Pressure cook, using low pressure for 40 - 50 minutes, depending upon age of chicken.
Reduce pressure with cool water. Drop dumplings from a spoon onto hot chicken and vegetables. Cover and steam 5 minutes without pressure. (Use lid of cooker but no pressure control.) Serves 6.
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4 T. shortening [meaning any suitable fat]
1 cup milk
Sift dry ingredients together. Cut shortening into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture is the consistency of cornmeal. Stir in milk to make a soft dough. Drop each dumpling onto a piece of chicken or vegetable, so it will not be immersed in the liquid. For a variation add 3 tablespoons minced parsley or watercress to the dry ingredients.
from Pressure Cookery for Every Meal by Ruth Berolzheimer, 1949
I have been re-working my pressure cooker recipes; I actually never wrote them down and am now doing it for my children.
I have never had a PC fail; but I did today. Nothing exploded; they don't do that these days as far as I know. But it did make a mess; it was a T-fal; I've had it for years and the seal is still flexible and in good shape. But moisture was seeping everywhere.
I taught cooking lessons in an upscale cooking store in Orange,CA . . many years ago.
They decided to go out of business and let me buy anything I wanted at their cost. I picked up an extra PC. It works ok but I am not real comfy with it so I suppose I will be shopping for a new one.
Years ago . . the best seem to be Presto. Now days they are all made very differently. Will probably buy a new better one but will use this one that I don't like just to test it . . livin' on the wild side.
What kind is the one you don't like, and why don't you like it? Sometimes you need to replace the rubber gasket. I bought an extra one for my K R because that was recommended. Sounds like that may be what your T-Fal needs.
I used mine last night for the first time, making a beef stew which sounded similar to Boeuf Bourguignon, from the K R cookbook that came with it. The instructions for first time users aren't really very good, especially since I have the newer top and most of the illustrations were for the older one. It was hard to know exactly what was going on and what I was supposed to be looking for. They really need to revamp their book. I wasn't sure whether it was supposed to be hissing at all, but I finally just kept the heat to the level at which both red lines were visible and went from there. I'm glad I tried it out last night because I'm planning to use it tomorrow night to make corned beef and cabbage when the kids come for Sunday dinner. Anyway, after fifteen minutes I had lovely tender deer stew. If I make that again I'll add some fattier meat, like bacon strips, because it seemed to need a bit more fat to develop the flavor. But it was excellent even though it was quite lean. The recipe called for lean beef cubes so I felt that deer would work well instead; that's what I use anyway when a recipe calls for beef.
I have to confess, there's part of me that is more intrigued than ever after reading this thread. I'm not ready to take the plunge on my own, though. I might have to go hang out at my mom's house for a week this summer, and get a cooking lesson or two ;o)
Terry, you might want to get one of the new Fagors instead. It's the recent models that are just about fool-proof. And one of the Fagors comes with two pots - I think a 4 qt and a 6 qt - and an extra plain glass top. It looked like a great deal to me; I just wanted a Kuhn Rikon!
I'm about to make soup for lunch in my new pc; I was looking at pc recipes and I just happened to have all the ingredients for this one: kale, leeks, and French Puy lentils. It's rainy and chilly here - a good day for soup!
The Fagor Duo set (8 psi and 15 psi) comes with two bases, a pressure lid and a glass lid. I believe that's an 8-quart and 4-quart set.
Even though it's slightly more expensive, I feel an 8-quart and 4-quart set is more usable. I like having the larger size.
I do agree that the instruction books for both the Fagor and Kuhn-Rikon could be better for beginners. I think some of the issues have to do with translation. The Fagor books gives steps out of sequence and then backtracks. Also I notice some manuals direct the user to oil the seal, which is not necessary or appropriate with the new silicone types.
Presto is "first-generation". Its pressure mechanism is the old bobble type and is less sophisticated than the Fagor or Kuhn-Rikon. However the stainless Presto is good value for the money and parts are widely available.
There are other excellent pressure cooker brands, like the Magefesa. However, parts availability is more of an issue.
You can see the mess it made on the back of my stove . . splatter . . chicken broth
Now this 0 is the one that has been sitting in the box for 10 years. Washed it and used it first time around for a Cajun style BBQ ribs. The seal was good but the whole pressure regulator seems flimsy. It cooked fine but I watched it . . first time use . . ya know.
So . .after . . using I did a web search on it
Growing up and as a young mother I always had Presto and so did my mother.
Living Quarters Model 29441 - info on front of recipe book
25 year limited warranty
Designed in USA Made in Malaysia
Exclusively for PROFFITTS inc, Birmingham, AL - info on back of recipe book
Well after a half hour of searching and reading; some say the company is in MN; they are out of business and a few reviews I read tell horror stories about it.
I'm not throwing it away but for my regular heavy duty pressure cooking I need something I can trust a bit better than this.
I don't know that I'd want to use that new one you've got, with the horror stories attached to it!
Carol, it wasn't just poor translation; it should have had instructions showing the newer version top, so you knew what to look for. I really wasn't very sure what I was doing the first time around. The pot was hissing and I didn't know whether that was normal or whether it meant the temp was too high. Now that I've used it twice I think slight hissing is all right, as long as no steam is being emitted.
You gals are reading my mind...I had been thinking of posting a thread regarding electric pressure brands. I just found (don't know how,magically appeared) your thread. I have loved my old presto stove top for years, but alas I burned something in it beyond cleaning or so I thought at the time I through it out. The burn as I recall was undoubtly my fault. Now I really want an electric pressure cooker. I've looked at lots of reviews which left me somewhat more confused at to what brand to buy. DOES ANYONE OUT THERE HAVE AN ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKER they would recommend?
Thanks for your input.
There are many brands of electric pc out there. Cusinart seems to have the best reviews. Reason I want electric is so I can put something in using the timer and go out without having to watch the pot. Randomily talked to someone once who had an electric one and loved it. Reviews on Wolfgang Puck one were bad.
Thanks for your response,
I don't have experience with electric models, so can't speak to that, but a lot of them come with teflon linings. That isn't going to hold up to the high heat of pressure. I don't like seeing black bits in my food.
Leslie, I'm not surprised the K-R manual is out-of-date. I have an older model K-R, so it's not an issue, but I've noticed with the big canners the manuals remain the same year-after-year. Canning recipes are almost never updated, which is why those manuals aren't a good resource for anything beyond the basic instructions. I'm sure the same happens with the smaller pc manuals as well.
You'd think for what we pay for those pots that they'd be able to provide a useful and accurate manual.
I checked the K-R website, but no help there either.
However, totally off-topic, but on their site they have a section called Kinder Kitchen with the cutest cooking tools for children. I love the mouse measuring spoons and the little duck scissors. Too cute.
Wow, that story about the Wolfgang Puck PC is awful. Interesting that people are making a distinction between the stovetop and the electric ones in terms of safety.
I think the lack of up-to-date photos is a real flaw in the packaging of the K-R. There are some photos of the newer top where it talks about how to cool the cooker down, but there's nothing in the section which describes what to look for as the pressure is building up. So you have no idea what you're looking for.
Those Kinder Kitchen products are adorable and I was tempted at first, but I am teaching my granddaughter to cook with adult tools because I feel strongly that proper equipment makes a job easier and helps create a more successful experience.
For her birthday I signed her up for a kids' cooking class at Sur la Table, by the way!
I have the electric one and it is terrific! The surface is non-stick and it really gets nice and hot when you want to brown things first. The food comes out beautiful and I am not afraid of this at all as I was with the old fashioned kind. Very easy to clean and also has a digital read out. I bought at a discount on Ebay and it was money well spent.
So I go to cook my goose in my new pressure cooker and guess what - it won't fit! It's a five-and-a-half pound young goose and I didn't want to cut it up; even if I did it all wouldn't have gone in there. I had been brining it since last night, so I just threw it in my covered roasting pan with the apples, prunes and orange juice and will cook it slowly and see what happens. Maybe the brining will have helped to tenderize it. Even if it doesn't, it's just DH and me for dinner and he'll be happy with it even if it's chewy. He likes to eat the things that we painstakingly raised and butchered and froze, since we have so much effort invested in them!
I guess I'll have to try a smaller goose or one of my stewing hens to see how the PC tenderizes poultry!
Oh, dear, too late! It's all et up! ;-D It was pretty good; still a bit chewy but tasty. I think the brining helped a lot. I'll have to see if I have a smaller goose in the freezer, or else follow one of Carol's recipes that recommended using just part of the goose if you had a larger one, for the pressure cooker.
Usually when I have a goose carcass I make rillettes, but I still have a couple of containers of those in the freezer from last time, so I removed what meat was left and we'll have it for another meal, and we'll give the carcass to the chickens to pick at. If we had had a fire in the woodstove we would have burned it; the ashes go in our compost pile. Everything gets recycled here!