Safety should be one of your top concerns when it comes to using a pressure cooker. An intense level of pressure is contained within the cooker that cooks your food quickly and thoroughly. If that pressure is not regulated or becomes too high, the cooker could burst open and spew extremely hot food everywhere, potentially burning people that are standing nearby. Pretty much all pressure cookers manufactured nowadays have all of the safety precautions necessary to prevent an incident.
Your pressure cooker bursting is a very rare and unlikely situation; don’t be too worried about it happening, but also, don’t slack on the upkeep of your cooker. The only reason that it might happen is if you never clean the pressure cooker, or if it’s not used in the correct way. Always read through the instruction manual when you buy a new piece of cookware or small appliance.
On the lid of your pressure cooker, no matter what brand of cooker it is, there should be a small opening or knob to the side of the handle. This is the pressure regulator. Not all pressure cookers use the same type of regulator, but most have a weighted valve that acts as a limiter to the level of pressure inside the pressure cooker.
The cooking pressure should stay at a safe and steady level while you’re cooking food, but if it does get too high, this weighted valve will automatically release steam to compensate for the inaccurate psi.
The three most common types of pressure cooker regulator valves are:
A weighted valve is the most common and most simple type of pressure regulator for pressure cookers.
On top of your pressure cooker, there is a small opening or hole that allows steam to release. A standard weight valve acts as a cover to this opening and uses a weight to keep it sealed until the pressure (psi) reaches a certain point. Usually, a weighted valve raises at about 15 psi.
While you’re cooking in the pressure cooker, the weight valve should begin to rock back and forth. This is normal, and it should continue rocking continuously throughout cooking. The only time you should be concerned is if the weight valve stops rocking, as this would be an indicator of a lack of steam or a blockage in the steam release opening. Remove the valve and clean the release opening before using the pressure cooker again.
Modified weight valves are immensely similar to weighted valves. The main difference is that a modified weight valve doesn’t create a rocking motion. It rather lets out short bursts of steam when necessary. These valves are typically found in pricier pressure cookers because they’re more advanced, but they create the same effect as the weighted valve system. Some people prefer a modified weight valve simply because of the constant movement of a weight valve can get annoying.
A spring valve is exactly what it sounds like; it’s a spring-loaded pressure indicator that pops up when the pressure reaches 15psi.
Pressure cooker whistles are another type of weight valve. They’re typically found in Indian Pressure Cookers, like Prestige or Hawkins cookers. This type of valve makes a whistling sound each time the weight valve opens, which is in intervals. Some Indian recipes use these intervals as a way to measure cooking time. For example, a recipe might say to, “let [the food] cook for 3 whistles.” This is a more interesting, and possibly more accurate, way to judge when your food has completed cooking.
Most pressure cooker brands use a different type of pressure regulator from each other; some work better than others. If you need a replacement valve for your pressure cooker, it’s important to pay attention to what exact type of valve fits on that brand.
Here are the pressure regulator valves for sale by brand. If you don’t see the brand of your pressure cooker, it’s possible that the weight valve in it isn’t removable.
Pressure cookers are great for cooking because they’re faster than using a pot on the stove or in the oven. They save you a lot of time and hassle. When you buy a pressure cooker, it’s important to keep it clean. It is especially important to keep food debris out of the steam regulator opening and out of the seal between the lid and the main pot.
If either of these places is blocked or not sealing properly, your food is most likely not going to cook thoroughly or completely. This could be a safety hazard for two reasons; one, the pressure cooker could burst open and burn you or the person cooking the food, and two, if you’re cooking raw meats, you could get food poisoning from the undercooked meat.
Maintenance on a pressure cooker includes replacing the pressure regulator valve if it breaks or no longer functions properly. When you’re buying the replacement part, make sure it is the correct one for your pressure cooker. Some brands use different kinds of weight valves. As long as you keep your pressure cooker clean and up-to-date on parts, it should work well and help you create some delicious and easy dinners.