Pressure Cooker suggestions?

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CMD CMD
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Pressure Cooker suggestions?

I would like to invest in a pressure cooker, but the options seem endless and reviews are all over the place. Having no experience with pressure cookers, I cannot decide which is a best bet. Any suggestions?
Marrena Lindberg Marrena Lindberg
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I love my Fagor.  Very expensive but I don't regret spending the money.  Very high quality and a thick bottom so you can saute first if you like.  Make sure to get a steamer rack with it, and I would recommend buying as large as you think you will need.  Making soup stock, for example, you can't fill it too full for safety reasons.
CMD CMD
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So I finally bought a 10qt Fagor. It looks like a space ship landed on my stovetop. Wonder if it's too big? Bought it with the idea of doing some canning in small batches, rather than buying a separate pot for canning. But wow, it's kind of intimidating looking to me. Some serious instructions and DVD on use. Husband is diggin' it, though. He's excited about having near-instant beans (we use so much canned beans and we both don't like that. Not only the "waste," even if recyclable, but eliminating BPA-lined packaging). Got it at Target online, so if it doesn't work out...easy to return.


Jay Jay
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In reply to this post by CMD
I have a 10 year old Fagor and love it. Still going strong, original gasket. Really easy to clean, safe.... Never used it for canning, so can't help with that.
Sandra Sandra
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Which Fagor model do you all recommend (Duo, Elite, Futuro)? Right now, I'm leaning towards the Futuro because its shorter handles would be easier to stow in my kitchen cabinet. How did you decide on a size (4, 6, 10 qt)? I've been agonizing over this purchasing decision for weeks. I'll have to take a look at the Target website. Thanks for the tip!
Jay Jay
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I have the 6 qt Duo, I *think* because it was the classic size recommended for typical family use. Don't have a steamer basket which would have been nice. I could have handled an 8 qt, 10 would have been overkill for us.
Count on usable volume at no greater than 2/3 the stated size, less with beans which get foamy. Remember, the bigger, the heavier. Maybe try lifting a pot filled with the potential max volume of water, see how it works for you.
Short handles sound practical, but have no experience with them. I do like a long handle for carrying, but if I had a bigger pot it'd have to have shorter handles for storage, too.
Don't forget to check Amazon, if you have no objection to them as a merchant. Excellent return policy there, also (via UPS). You will pay some of the return S&H if you state you simply changed your mind as reason for returning.

**EDIT: A little web research tells me that if you want to cook a whole chicken or "large roast" you'll want the 10 qt.

HTH
Sandra Sandra
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Thanks for the info, Jay. Very helpful. Do you happen to know if there a minimum volume of liquid that is required for the pressure cooker to function properly? I'm wondering if I can get away with cooking a small cup of beans in the larger cooker. Seems like the 10 qt is the only size recommended as both a pressure cooker and canner. *Sigh*  Perhaps this whole pressure canning business is more trouble than it's worth.
Jay Jay
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That's a really good question, and unfortunately I don't know. There, of course, is a minimum because as you cook some amount is lost as steam. Timing could be an issue, too, if you get much bigger than recipes call for. Last night I was really tempted by the 10 qt, too, then i started thinking about it: if you look at most pressure canning recipes, they create a volume of more than 4 qts which is what Fagor says the 10 qt [Duo] can hold. I don't know enough about canning to know if you can hold back partial recipes for a second/third canning round though my gut says you lose quality, and doing just 4 qts a session seems wasteful. Definitely can't with jellies, jams (use a HWB)! I've never been terribly tempted to use pressure canning in the past, so am cured for the moment:-))
I'm really curious now, and will be combing the web maze looking for the answer to "minimum volume"!
Jay Jay
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OK, quick research: No matter the size, 'parently 1/2 cup liquid is the minimum, while you can cook any amount solid foods.
 
According to "Miss Vicki", "http://missvickie.com/workshop/buying.html , "While even the largest pressure cooker is capable of cooking the smallest amounts of food, large amounts cannot be cooked in a smaller one." The Miss Vicki website has other really good info. and suggest you scan at least this page.

Also, at http://pressurecookerrecipes22484.yuku.com/topic/1138/8-qt-vs-10-qt-fagor..... "The amount of liquid used isn't dependent on the size of the pressure cooker, but rather the amount of time that it will be under pressure and cooking.", in other words follow recipe.

When I looked at the Fagor website recipes, there was no reference to size, that I could find.

I think I would just look at physical size and get biggest I would be comfortable handling and would use OFTEN. Vague enough? Even if I ultimately order online, I would *try* to look at and physically handle a major purchase such as this. Otherwise, retain packaging until you're sure about it!
Sandra Sandra
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Thanks so much, Jay! I'll keep this info in mind the next time I stop by Williams Sonoma to look at their selection of Fagor pressure cookers.
Jay Jay
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Hope you find one you love! Let us know.
kiyomi kiyomi
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In reply to this post by Sandra
I have 4qt and 6qt Fagors. If you want to do with 1, then you probably want at least 6qt. I first got 6qt and I fell in love with it. I use it to cook mostly entre dishes (meats and things like curry, stew, etc.). I later bought 4qt one so that I can cook rice at the same time. Cooking rice with pressure cooker is so fast and so good. I use 6qt more than 4qt. 4qt is pretty much reserved for rice.
Hope this helps.
Sandra Sandra
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Kiyomi, could you tell us more about how you cook rice in the pressure cooker? What's the proper rice-to-water ratio? How long does it take to cook? I love short grain rice but make it only on occasion because it takes (what seems like) forever to cook.
Andrea Andrea
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In reply to this post by Sandra
I was having the same dilemma about what size (and whether I even needed to have another pot in my kitchen) pressure cooker to buy.  Since I do a lot of canning I figured the best was to buy a 10 qt because they say that's the minimum size for canning purposes.  So I waited for a good sale and got mine at Macy's.  It's a 10 qt stainless steel Fagor Elite at a very affordable price if you compare with the rest.  I've been using it almost every day and it's been great!  Very easy to use, and although the size sounds like overkill, It gets filled quickly, especially if you like to cook enough to have left overs, which is my regular practice.  If you'd like to boil a chicken or make stock, this would probably be just large enough.  I'm not sure you'd be able to do it with a smaller pot since the instructions it came with say that it shouldn't be more than 2/3 full.  Hope this helps!  I do not regret at all buying mine, and it has been a life saver here.  I live in California (very hot summers) and it's saved me a lot of sweat in the kitchen.  Made awesome baked beans last Sunday in less than 1 hr.
kiyomi kiyomi
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In reply to this post by Sandra
Hi Sandra,

I use my pressure cooker for long-grain rice (either basmati or jasmine). I use my electric rice cooker for short-grain rice just out of habit. I'm sure you can use the pressure cooker the same way.

My ratio is 1 1/2 cups of water for 1 cup of rice. I normally cook 2 cups of rice with 3 cups of water. We are family of three and this amount gives us one dinner and enough left over for my lunch couple of times.
I always add about 1 Tbs of olive oil to prevent excess foaming (foam could clog up the steam vent). You can add salt if you like. I like to add a bit of turmeric to make yellow rice. Yum!

Cook 3 minutes at high pressure, turn off the heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally for 7 minutes, then quick-release any remaining pressure.

I got this from "Pressure Perfect" by Lorna Sass. I've enjoyed many recipes from this book. The book is also a good reference book.

Hope this helps!
Sandra Sandra
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In reply to this post by Andrea
Thanks, Andrea, for your advice on sizes! I was leaning towards getting the 10 qt Fagor, and what you're saying has convinced me to get the larger size. I'd love to hear more on how you've been canning with the pressure cooker. Any tips for someone who has never pressure canned before?
Sandra Sandra
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In reply to this post by kiyomi
Great tips on how to make rice in the pressure cooker. Thanks so much, Kiyomi! I really like the trick of using a bit of olive oil to prevent excess foaming. I will definitely check out the book you recommended. Thanks again!
kiyomi kiyomi
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Re: Pressure Cooker suggestions?

I forgot to add that most recipes in "Pressure Perfect" call for 6qt or larger size for 4-6 serving dishes. I did 4 lb ribs in my 6qt cooker and they were great!  

I added 4qt cooker only because I wanted to do rice in small quantities and I felt that larger will be wasteful. I think it takes longer to get pressure up for larger cooker, meaning using more electricity than needed. I like to cook rice fresh for each dinner, but if you don't mind cooking more and freezing them for later use, this doesn't apply. I also didn't want to be wrestling with large pots when cleaning. If you are going to be using them frequently, it's a consideration.

I use my 6qt cooker frequently; I'd say at least twice a week, many times 4-5 times a week. It's not unusual that I have both 4qt and 6qt going for the same dinner.

I might add 10qt cooker at some point for canning and cooking the whole chicken. For most any other things, I feel 6qt is a perfect size for a family of 3-5.

I am glad that you are buying a pressure cooker. I really think every household should have one !!
Jay Jay
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In reply to this post by Sandra
Lorna Sass has some GREAT cookbooks. Most libraries will carry some/all of them.
Andrea Andrea
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In reply to this post by Sandra
I haven't canned with mine yet, but I saw the DVD that came with the cooker and it looked pretty simple.  After having used it quite a few times I think it shouldn't be more trouble than regular canning.  The only thing is mine didn't come with a canning rack and I don't feel like splurging for a canning set since I already have everything I need except for the rack.  I read somewhere that you can use mason jar rings upside down on the base of the pot instead to keep the bottoms of the jars from having direct contact with the heat source and I think I'll just try that.  I'm really itching to get canning, might just try it the next few days!  By the way, the first dish I tried with my cooker was risotto and it got done in 15 minutes!  It was very reassuring after seeing how simple it was to make.
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