My Pressure Cooker Saga

 photo pressurecookers_zps6a8b0a73.jpgOr- Why you should always use your brain in the kitchen.

Ever do something without thinking, for a split second, and then end up regretting that thoughtlessness for a long time after that?
Welcome to my morning.

I wanted to make some lentil soup for lunch, and the recipe called for chicken broth. I had some water left over from steaming pumpkins, and I figured if I steamed chicken wings (my new favorite way of eating them- steamed, then fried), the liquid would make an amazing broth to use as the base of my soup.-
Easy as pie.

I loaded the chicken wings into the steamer basket of my pressure cooker, and tried putting the cover in. It didn't go in so easily- I assumed because the pressure cooker was a little too full- but I pushed hard and got it in anyhow. When I went to seal the pressure cooker to start the cooking process, I was unable to, and that's when it hit me- I used the wrong cover!
I have two pressure cookers- one taller than the other, but both with approximately the same diameter. Approximately, but not exact.
And I managed to take the slightly bigger pressure cooker cover, and shove it in to the slightly smaller pressure cooker.
And it was stuck.

I tried and tried and tried to remove the pressure cooker's cover, but I had no success whatsoever.

I tried soaping the edges of the cover.

I tried oiling the edges of the cover.

I tried using lots of force.

Nothing worked. That thing was stuck and it was stuck tightly!

Today's pressure cookers have convex covers- you insert them into the slightly smaller pot on an angle, and then move the handle, which flattens out the cover, creating a seal against the pot's upper rim. Removing them works in reverse- you move the handle in reverse, which allows the cover to revert to its concave shape, and then you angle the cover to remove it.

Because of my chicken wings in my steamer basket inside the pot, and because of my stupidly putting the slightly larger cover inside the smaller pot, I wasn't able to get the pot cover to stay concave upon removal- it kept on flattening out when I tried to take it out, and it's impossible to remove a flattened cover from this sort of pressure cooker.

At this point, my stress level was super high. If there's one kitchen tool I "can't live without" it's my pressure cooker. It use it at least once a day, often 4 or 5 times a day. It makes my life so much easier, which is why I bought a second one. Even though they're expensive.

I thought I'd no longer have the use of either of them anymore- 2 pressure cookers and ~$140 down the drain...

I turned to the trusty internet, posted my dilemma on a few Facebook forums, and people had all sorts of ideas, from wedging a knife or crochet hook under the cover, to WD-40, to bringing the pot to a local blacksmith, etc...
I tried the wedging, didn't work.
A whole lot of people suggested to me that I warm the outside pot somehow so it expands and cool the cover so that it contracts, so I filled a basin with boiling water, submerged the pot for a few minutes, then iced the cover...

Nothing doing.

I managed to push down the convex sides of the pot and was able to reach some of the chicken wings within, and with a lot of difficulty, managed to pull some of the wings out of the pot. I thought it might make it easier to remove the cover if I had some extra maneuvering room.

Again, no such luck.

I was kissing those two pots goodbye, bidding farewell to those faithful servants, eating myself up over a momentary lack of using my brain causing such financial loss, not to mention stress and annoyance...
My 7 year old expressed concern that we'd be losing those chicken wings. Me? I didn't care about the chicken wings. At least not compared to the loss of two super useful pots...

But I put the pot in the fridge to wait until my husband got home. Because maybe, maybe, maybe my super handy husband Mike could work his magic on my pot and release the trapped cover...

When Mike arrived, I tried giving him advice on what I thought he should do. He was trying to a few minutes, then asked me to let him figure it out on his own- since I'd already tried, and obviously what I was doing wasn't working... I told him that I was cool with him breaking either the pot, or the cover- so long as I had one usable pressure cooker instead of none.

I turned around for a few minutes, got busy with something else around the house, when Mike calls me over- he freed the pot cover!

My hero!

I asked him how he did it- he looks at me and says "Don't even ask! I couldn't explain it even if I tried."

So, if you're looking for an answer to such a problem, if such a thing ever happened to you- here's all I know about how he fixed it-

He used my kid's belt, a pair of pliers, two screwdrivers, and his entire body weight.
The rest was brute strength and magic.

But hey- I have my two pots back, and that's all that counts, right?

Next time...

I'll check to make sure that I am using the right cover. And if it doesn't go in easily, I won't shove it in- I'll see what the problem is and take care of that. Instead of using brute strength to "solve the problem"...

Anyone else have something similar happen to them? A momentary lapse of judgment causing hours of headache and/or financial loss? Were you able to fix the mistake you made, or was it a lost cause?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Kelly K (@RNCCRN9706)November 25, 2014 at 10:24 PM

    GOOD FOR MIKE!! He saved the DAY!! WOO HOO!!! Nothing wrong with a LOT of man power...LITERALLY!!! Thank you Jesus!! :)

  2. Penny, don't be so hard on yourself! We've all made mistakes. Thank goodness you got a strong hubby and didn't have to lose your pots :)

  3. I think I would color-code the pots and lids with a dab of paint on the handles or something like that to make it easier to get the right lid on the right pot.

  4. If safe, you might want to put some sort of permanent marker marking on one pot and lid to make your life easier down the road. Then you will know to just match up the blue markings (or whatever) before you get cooking.


  5. so happy your hubby was able to save the pots! I have never used a pressure cooker,probably from all the stories I hear about them that you need to be careful, but I know it really saves alot of time ! maybe one day I'll get over my fear!

    1. So am I! Pressure cookers really are amazing and huge time savers. The modern day pressure cookers have safety pressure release valves, so they cant explode and hurt you like the old ones can. You cant even physically open the pressure cooker until the pressure is released.

  6. Penny, be careful with using a pressure cooker that may be damaged... :/
    There must be some safety device allowing the pressure to come out in case it can't escape the normal way (so that it does not explode in the end). On french models, it comes out from both 1, the joint between the pot & the cover AND 2, a special safety valve.

    1. Fortunately, these weren't damaged! The extent of the "damage" is that the pressure release rubber gasket came out, but I put it back in, and it is perfect now.
      This had nothing to do with pressure or safety device valves since I didn't heat the pot up- it didn't become stuck because of pressure- it just became stuck because of being the wrong fit.

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