Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fixing My Pressure Cooker

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And of course, once I got the pressure cooker fixed, we ran out of gas.
And the gas company won't deliver until Sunday or Monday.
Fortunately, we have these two spare electric burners...
To say that I really rely on my pressure cooker... would be an understatement.
If you'd send me to a dessert island and would only send 3 kitchen items along with me, I'd definitely pick my pressure cooker as one of the items, along with my cast iron skillet and a metal spatula. Those are probably my three most commonly used kitchen tools.

I use my pressure cooker for many reasons. Firstly, because it takes less time to cook things in the pressure cooker, so I can get more done, since I don't have to wait as long for the food to get cooked. Additionally, it heats my house less because it means the fire isn't on as long, and it also lets off less steam into the air, so the steam doesn't make my kitchen even hotter on hot days. There's also the added benefit that it uses less gas, and therefore saves money. And because it shortens the cooking time on legumes and gizzards and other slow cooking cheap foods, it makes me more encouraged to use cheaper ingredients since I am not worried about needing to be tied down to the kitchen for hours. And when I am really short on time and didn't have supper already made, the pressure cooker helps me have a meal ready, start to finish, in very little time, so I don't feel the need for expensive and unhealthy convenience foods.

Today I had a lot of cooking that I needed to get done. I needed to make veggie scrap broth, cook chicken soup, cook up chicken gizzards, make rice, and boil potatoes. And for each of those items, I intended to use my pressure cooker.

I had already mentally prepared an assembly line. First the gizzards, then the broth, etc... I washed my gizzards, cleaned them off, put them in the pressure cooker, and then after a few minutes of it cooking, I hear a hissing noise, see water spraying out of the top of my pressure cooker, pooling on the cover and dripping over, putting out the flame on the stove.


Take two.

I tried it on another burner, and a repeat happened.

Oh no! My pressure cooker is dead! I need it so much! I would even happily use two! What am I going to do, what am I going to do, what am I going to do? AHHHHHHHHHHHHtHHH!!

Yes. That dramatic. So much emotion over just one little pot.

But it really is a life saver for me.

I called up my husband to vent to my husband, express my sadness over the loss of my beloved pressure cooker.

I mentally started adding up how much it would cost to buy a new pressure cooker, then tried to figure out if it's an expense we could swing right now, or I'd just have to suffer without the pressure cooker for the next while...

I took down my two crock pots, transferred the gizzards into one, and then put the makings of the veggie scrap broth into the other.

And then thought.

Was it really broken? Was there maybe a rubber seal that got loosened, a bit of rubber that I can replace for cheaper than it would cost to replace the entire pressure cooker?

I googled, and a few sites came up with some troubleshooting tips, and said that I should clean around the gaskets, check the rubber to make sure it is solid, etc... So I figured I'd try that.

I checked my pressure cooker- and no rubber gaskets! While there were three holes that let out pressure, the one that the water was spraying out of didn't even have any rubber or any parts to unscrew. Nothing to clean there even- it was just a hole in which a metal piece slid up and down, up when the pot was pressurized, to let off steam, and down when the pot was not pressurized.

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I was a little bummed out- no way to even fix my pressure cooker. Guess it does mean I'll be buying another expensive pressure cooker, I thought to myself.

But then I decided that I'd try something. There were two other parts on the cover of my pressure cooker that could be unscrewed. Why not try opening them and cleaning out whatever gunk is in there- it can't hurt...

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So I did that. The two parts that were able to be unscrewed actually were filled with lots of gross nastiness around the springs in them, so I cleaned it to perfection and then put it back together.

I filled the pot with a little water (to lessen the chance of it exploding out), thought to myself "Here goes nothing", and then turned on the fire, waiting for the hissing and sputtering to start.

It never came.

Maybe the pot just wasn't full enough?

So I filled the pot almost to the top, closed it, and turned it on, waiting for the pressure.

It reached full pressure, and no hissing. No sputtering. No spraying hot liquids out onto the cover and onto the stove.

It works!


No needing to spend money on a new, expensive pressure cooker! Mine works!

I still am not 100% sure why cleaning the other holes on the pressure cooker stopped it from spraying out of a different hole. My guess is that if it was able to release the pressure via the other holes, less pressure would build up and try to come out of that other hole, so no spraying.

I don't know the science behind it, all I know is that it worked and it saved me money.

Because I really came so close to throwing out this valuable tool and spending more money on a new expensive pot, I wanted to share what I learned.

Cleaning the vents on a pressure cooker could make a pressure cooker work again. Even if the vents in question weren't the "problematic" ones to begin with.

And now back to pressure cooking.

(Since I fixed it, I since made chicken soup, brown rice, and potatoes in that "broken" pressure cooker. No sputtering.)

Have you ever used a pressure cooker? Do you rely on yours as much as I rely on mine?
Have you ever had a similar issue with your pressure cooker? Did you manage to fix it? If so, how? 


  1. I hardly use mine. Mainly for chicken soup in winter. Would be happy if you post some recipes or hints.

    1. I always use mine to make rice. It is so much shorter! http://www.pennilessparenting.com/2011/12/pressure-cooker-rice-recipe.html

      I find this chart handy if I want to cook other types of rice.

      I recently read that pasta can also be done in the pressure cooker- bring it to pressure, then cook the pasta half the amount of time it says to on the package, then run the pressure cooker under cold water to release the pressure faster, and then strain. Since I read that, I havent made pasta any other way.

    2. Here are some pressure cooking recipes I make:

      And this is a handy chart that tells you how much time to cook everything in the pressure cooker.

  2. I have had a couple (one really did break and couldn't be salvaged) and used them a lot when I had a family of 4 at home. I particularly oved to make stews with dumplings and casseroles, just like my mother used to make when I was a child.

    Now that there are just 2 of us in the house I only use the pressure cooker in the winter, and freeze the remaining portions to discourage over eating!

  3. Maybe you should take the hint and CLEAN YOUR KITCHEN. It is filthy. Ewwww that burner is making my skin crawl. So much for health of your family, how can they live with burners and walls covered in muck?!?

    1. You're right. They could use a cleaning. I'll get right on to it. Thanks for the suggestion- I really appreciate it! You know how sometimes things just slip by because of business? That was one of them.

    2. Anonymous, how old are you, 5? Your parents must be proud.

  4. I LOVE my pressure cooker! Not sure what I would do without mine too. I originally bought it to cut down on cooking time and energy for beans but have since discovered so many other uses.

  5. I think if we had one, I'd probably be serving a ton more beans than I do. Which, for my carnivorous husband, is not a good thing.

    I'm personally a little terrified of them. But I imagine that the terror fades after you use them for a while.

  6. I got a pressure cooker when I move out of my parents house, but it is not my favourite kitchen tool. I am in my house a lot so I don't actually care long cooking times ;) I love stuff like 3 or 4 hours stews
    > If heat is a problem for you, have you ever considered solar cooking ? I am fascinated by it but there is far not enough sun in here :S It would not heat your kitchen at all and save even more gas ! :P


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